When Feminism Goes Too Far

Women are flourishing in climbing today. Just look around and it’s hard not to admire how incredible and far-reaching the female presence is in our sport. It’s true at every level, too—from the very best female climbers who are pushing the limits all the way down to average female climbers, whose opportunities and support abounds.

Ashima on Horizon (V15). Photo: Brett Lowell / Big Up Productions
Ashima on Horizon (V15). Photo: Brett Lowell / Big Up Productions

Ashima Shiraishi, now 15 years old, is the youngest person, of any gender, to climb V15.

Lynn Hill freed The Nose (5.14a) of El Capitan and then free-climbed it in a single day—two achievements that are still amazing, if not unmatched, more than two decades later.

Beth Rodden climbed the first ascent of Meltdown (5.14c), one of the hardest crack climbs in the world. And it’s still awaiting a second ascent after thwarting strong guys like Tommy Caldwell and Carlo Traversi.

Beth Rodden, Meltdown (5.14c), FA. Photo:  Corey Rich
Beth Rodden, Meltdown (5.14c), FA. Photo: Corey Rich

There are women’s climbing events popping up all over the country, too. There are weekly women’s specific events held at many gyms. Chicks with Picks has multiple events each year. Steph Davis holds a popular women’s crack-climbing clinic in Moab. And Flash Foxy holds a few women’s specific climbing events as well.

The media has produced multiple articles, issues, and magazine covers that highlight women’s achievements in the sport, and discuss women’s-specific issues. There are tons of female-oriented climbing blogs, Facebook groups, and other online outlets for women to connect.

Despite the success, opportunity, and inspiration that I consistently see around the climbing world, I’ve been somewhat confused and disappointed by the recent spate of articles and online commentaries that suggest that women climbers are being held back by a community that is slow to accept their presence. All of which has been launched under the guise of “feminism.”

I’ve read these articles, and I must say: They do not fit the reality I know as a woman and a climber in 2017.

Holly Hansen in Spain. Photo: Tara Kerzner. Instagram  /  Website.
Holly Hansen in Spain. Photo: Tara Kerzhner. Instagram / Website.

What is Feminism?

The concept of feminism has evolved over the years since it was first introduced during the American and French Revolutions in the late 18th Century. But perhaps feminism’s most consistent ideological bedrock is the idea of “equality between the sexes,” a phrase that still appears in just about every dictionary definition of the word.

Shelma Jun is the founder of female/climbing-empowerment website Flash Foxy, as well as the Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival. She’s been a huge force for female empowerment in climbing, and one of the reasons that we women have it so great in climbing today.

But her article “Adapt and Accept,” which recently appeared in Climbing’s “Women’s Issue,” felt off to me. She began her story describing two experiences climbing the same scary boulder problem: The first time it was with male spotters only, and the second time it was with just female spotters. She describes feeling fear in both situations, but says she only felt comfortable verbalizing that fear in front of the group of women.

After explaining how she got into climbing, she returns with the blunt assessment that, “It’s almost as if women can’t just go out and climb in mixed company. There’s a constant pressure to prove ourselves as strong and capable climbers. With more women than ever climbing, and numbers only going up, marginalizing a huge chunk of the climbing populace doesn’t do anyone any good.”

I don’t want this to come off as a personal attack on Shelma—at all. Like I said, she has been a positive and empowering person in our community who we can all admire. But I do question the logic of her article. Mostly, I wonder how Shelma was actually “marginalized” in her anecdote?

Her female friend offered this bit of advice: “You can bail or try the crux, whatever you want to do, I’ve got you.”

Her male friend, meanwhile, said, “You’ll be fine, just do the move.”

To me, both seem like normal, encouraging statements that climbers make without putting too much thought into what they’re saying. But Shelma tries to argue that this is why “women still feel outnumbered, unwelcome, unsupported, or intimidated” in the climbing community.

Her prescription for this problem? “Climbing’s historically mostly straight, white male population is now seeing more women, people of color, and queer folks, and we all must accept and embrace that change.”

In fact, I would argue that if Shelma herself changed and tried voicing her fears openly to her male climbing partners, instead of harboring an internal resentment toward them, she might have found a type of support that she’d never expected.

Emily Harrington. Photo: Tara Kerzner. Instagram  /  Website.
Emily Harrington. Photo: Tara Kerzhner. Instagram / Website.

As a woman, I understand the need for feminism, but this brand of feminism worries me—it does our gender more harm than good, especially in the climbing field we all love.

Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has identified this “complaint feminism” in many fields. “Today’s feminism,” she writes, ”is not merely out of touch with everyday Americans; it’s out of touch with reality. To survive, it’s going to have to come back to planet Earth.”

Dr. Sommers sees complaint-feminism “drowning in myth-information.” It is deeply hyperbolized. It exaggerates slights in order to provide social justice warriors with a blunt, heavy sword that they can use to clobber any behavior, word, or judgment that they don’t like.

Somehow “equality between the sexes” has devolved into silencing those whose opinions differ from your own.

Unfortunately, complaint-feminism seems to have invaded climbing.

Katie Lambert. Photo: Tara Kerzner. Instagram  /  Website.
Katie Lambert. Photo: Tara Kerzhner. Instagram / Website.

Erin Monahan’s article, “I’m Not Your Babe, Bro,” describes a women’s climbing night at the gym where she works. Her male boss wants to call it “Beta Babes.” Erin, however, finds the term deeply offensive, oppressive, and demeaning.

“Babe,” she writes, “literally means a baby. Informally, it means an affectionate form of address, typically for someone with whom one has a sexual, or romantic relationship with. It can also mean a sexually attractive young woman or girl.”

Sure, she’s got a right to that opinion, but please show me the harm in that term. I’ve been called “babe” and experienced no personal or systemic danger. When I don’t like it, I just tell the person I don’t like it.

Ironically, Erin stopped hosting the women’s climbing night at her gym—probably missing out on a bunch of cool experiences in her protest over a rather benign name.

Further, there’s a level of hypocrisy at play in terms of what we women accept, and what we don’t. It’s interesting that “Beta Babes” is somehow more offensive than “Flash Foxy.” Both catchy names hinge on seemingly sexualized terms. The only difference is that a man came up with one name and a woman came up with the other.

(Again, I respect Erin, her right, and everyone else’s right, to express their opinion on this subject. I’m not trying to call out her character—I just have a different point of view on these issues.)

Is this really the kind of “equality between the sexes” that we’ve been fighting for? More than anything, are we really that sensitive?

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Monahan also suggests that women are often demeaned in bouldering when men touch or grab them in a sexualized way while spotting them. In my experience as a woman who boulders a lot, 99 percent of the time that a man (or a woman) has spotted me, it seems to be with the intention of preventing me from falling and landing in a dangerous, injurious way.

Sometimes men or women touch the other sex inappropriately while spotting. Yes these actions are inappropriate, but they are actions by individual people and they do not reflect systematic oppression.

Also, if a woman (or man) feels uncomfortable with a spot, regardless of the intentions of the spotter, couldn’t she/he just ask not to be spotted?

Other articles I’ve read have used the pretense of sexism to describe situations when men hit on women, stare at them, or give them “unwanted beta.” Yet many women, including me, have given male climbers beta—some of it, sometimes, unwanted. And climbing gyms, like all gyms, can be good places to meet romantic interests. I hit on my current boyfriend at the gym, asking him out on our first date after working on a boulder problem together and having a good time.

Beth Rodden portrait. Photo: Corey Rich
Beth Rodden portrait. Photo: Corey Rich

These situations may be uncomfortable for some of us … but demeaning, dangerous, and oppressive? I don’t see it.

Again, in these situations, I do not see sexism. I do not see oppression. But I am seeing more and more women jumping on the bandwagon of “complaint feminism”—to our own detriment.

There’s a certain “tribe” mentality at play. You can see this in the way some of these articles and commentaries are being shared by other women online. Women who might not have thought twice about that piece of beta they received from some dude in the gym earlier that week now suddenly see themselves as victims of a male-dominated sport. Their identities as climbers aren’t tied to the routes and boulders they do, but to their ability to consistently vocalize a feminist agenda that scapegoats a part of the male climbing contingent. The result? Often, a shower of affirmation from all the other women in their online circles.

Why are we trying to come together as women at the expense of our male climbing partners?

By calling so much attention to little slights and our own subjective micro-judgments of other people’s normal actions, aren’t we women acting grossly entitled and self-involved? Even worse, by focusing on “micro-aggressions,” aren’t we inadvertently diminishing examples of true aggression in the world: the sexism, violence, and suffering that truly prevent women’s participation in business and government, or access to education?

Dr. Sommers’ position on this point makes very good sense: “Exaggerated claims and crying wolf discredit good causes and send scarce resources in the wrong direction.”

Lets Share the Blame

I decided I needed to ask my climbing friends, female and male, how they felt. Did the recent articles and commentaries reflect reality as they see it? Or did parts of this discourse bother them, too?

After interviews via phone, email, and in person, I discovered that there were many women and men who were afraid to share opinions that didn’t align with the “complaint feminism” narrative about sexism and oppression in every corner of our sport. They were afraid of scrutiny and wanted to avoid being attacked online.

One male friend told me that if he said any of the things he had heard me say, “I would be called out as a sexist, a woman-hater, and probably alienate a good chunk of my friends.”

I wasn’t able to find a single male friend who would go on record with his thoughts—which is sad, don’t you think?

Nina Caprez and Jonathan Siegrist. Photo: Keith Ladzinski
Nina Caprez and Jonathan Siegrist. Photo: Keith Ladzinski

Fortunately, some of my female friends were willing to speak out publicly and graciously let me quote them here. Each of them told me that the attack-heavy, female-oppressed brand of feminism does not represent them. These friends—all empowered and successful—rejected the idea that our current climbing culture is anything other than extremely supportive of women.

In fact, they pointed out that their “masculine” friends were extremely important to their climbing, both in making them feel uncomfortable when they needed that, and helping them feel comfortable when they needed that, too.

My friend Tessa Jones said, “I have certainly had a few negative experiences with both my female and male climbing partners, but in general they have been very positive. To be perfectly honest I have had more negative experiences with women than men.”

She explained: “Look, every woman has her own experience, but I have climbed with women who did not want me to do well because they were comparing themselves to me, or preferred to be the center of attention. I’ve felt emotionally assaulted by women while climbing, but have never felt intentional negativity from a man.”

Melissa Main, who was the #3 climber in her age group at the World Championships in 2007, told me she felt more judged by women than men. “I’m small and thin and women will say to me, ‘Must be nice to have no body weight.’ In words and tones, they’re telling me I’m not as womanly because I’m not curvy.”

Getting Gritty

The reality is that we’ve forgotten, in our politically correct culture, that men and women are sometimes rude to one another. This type of behavior may be reprehensible, it may make us feel like shit, but it also has little to do with sexism. Further, using feminism as the tool to fix this leaky roof is doing more harm than good.

“We are all impacted by the people around us regardless of sex, but because of the baggage we carry with us, we may be more sensitive to a specific gender regardless of their intentions,” says my friend Tessa.

I worry that complaint-feminism will result in a climbing community in which women are fragile creatures who can’t even handle an errant touch, a word they don’t like; a glance, frown, disagreement, or even a biting comment—and men are to blame for every little slight.

I wrote this essay because I don’t believe that we should be making enemies and villains out of men in response to our own fear of discomfort. This does no one any good. We should be doing more as women to include men as equal partners, as we expect them to do for us.

Life is supposed to be uncomfortable. The psychologist Angela Duckworth makes this point beautifully in her bestseller, Grit. In this story, her father often told her she was not very smart. This was painful for her and there were certainly some dark undertones to his cruel comment. However, she took that discomfort and turned it into a strength. Someone told her she wasn’t smart, and she proved that person wrong and became wildly successful as a result. This was her grit.

Photo: Keith Ladzinski
Photo: Keith Ladzinski

I hear comments from women saying, “He thinks I’m not strong enough to do this climb,” and, “Men assume I’m weak because I’m a woman.” These comments, once again, may be rude, they may hurt, but credit is due where credit is earned. We all must prove we are strong before people assume we are. This goes for everything in life, not just climbing. Show your strengths, have grit, and earn respect.

Likewise, when someone tells you that you’re too short to do a move, or that you’re too weak, or that your beta is all wrong, or that you shouldn’t be afraid in a situation where you are, turn that discomfort into a strength. Prove that naysayer wrong.

What’s interesting, however, is how frequently “that naysayer” is actually just the voice in your own head. So often WE are the ones who are telling ourselves that WE are too short, too weak, and too afraid. It’s time for us to stop blaming that voice on the people around us, and start using it as the grit we need to succeed.

The 65 percent of women, cited in the Flash Foxy survey, who say they’ve felt uncomfortable in the gym (compared to the 29 percent of men) might do well to begin by analyzing themselves first before demanding that everyone around them cater to their every sensitivity.

I don’t deny that real sexism exists in society, but, in climbing, I do not see the same plight. In fact, I see a multitude of opportunities for women to succeed, to continue pushing the sport, and to continue leading by example.

Let’s keep doing that while showing respect to all of our climbing partners.

Author Bio

Davita GurianDavita Gurian, 23, is a University of Washington graduate who lives in Seattle, Washington. Raised in Spokane, she joined a climbing team at 13 but didn’t start climbing seriously until she was 18 and moved to Seattle. She’s been climbing consistently ever since, citing Squamish as her favorite area.

She says: “I credit climbing with giving me confidence that I didn’t know I had, and an amazing community. To all those who supported me in writing this article, and all those I quoted, please accept my gratitude. I also want to thank everyone who gave me feedback on how to improve and edit it.”

You can follow her on Instagram.

  • VK

    Good post, and an important discussion to continue.

    However, I fear that the author is oversimplifying certain elements of “complaint” feminism. I think it’s dangerous to disqualify the experiences of many women (it could be a majority, there’s no conclusive evidence either way) as simply being “too sensitive”. It’s great that you and your friends have not experienced the shitty situations that other women describe, or that you are able to “deal with” them in a way that they don’t bother you. However, I think many others have different experiences that are no less valid than your own.

    The ideal of just treating all of these micro-aggression with “grit” is not necessarily the right one. It’s a traditionally masculine ideal – if something bothers you, just “man up” and get over it. Why not raise your voice and try to change attitudes? Where is the gray line that says this many shitty interactions are ok and you should get over it, but this number of shitty interactions means there’s a bigger problem? If a woman is harassed with unwanted beta or touching once a month, is she being overly sensitive to speak up? What if it’s once a year? Once a day?

    Many of the arguments that the author uses – that these small interactions are to be handled on a case-by-case basis, that life is supposed to be difficult so get over it, that she has had good experiences thus women are doing fine – are the same arguments used against feminism in all parts of society. As the author mentions, sexism still definitely exists in daily life, so why is climbing somehow exempt? I fear that the author is making an argument for maintaining the status quo and for women to adjust themselves to match the male-dominated attitudes of the sport.

    To also quote Jun’s article: “Gender is a social construct, providing roles we are expected to play whether we want to or not. Many of us learned, grew, and thrived in the male-dominated climbing community. Climbers of every gender had to adapt to existing notions of partner dynamics, expectations, and definitions of success. But just because these constructs already existed “before our time” doesn’t mean we have to play along. In fact, we shouldn’t…. We want to re-imagine our relationships with climbing without feeling pressured to conform to masculine social norms, and for some of us, to subvert them.”

    No doubt many interactions are misinterpreted and blown out of proportion, but that does not disqualify the interactions that genuinely make women feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. It’s possible that modern feminism goes too far in some regards, but that should not be used to invalidate it completely. It would be great if every sexist and racist interaction and attitude could be solved by simply “asking the spotter to move”, but that’s not the case. Yes, there are fewer cases of blatant sexism in our lives and in climbing but the conditioned and in-built attitudes remain.

    • Caroline Treadway

      A lot of women (and men) feel uncomfortable in general. Not just at the gym but everywhere. Is that the fault of the other sex? Maybe it just takes a whole lot of courage to truly be comfortable with who we are. I’m not saying sexism doesn’t exist, it does. But overemphasizing it only overemphasizes it. In my opinion.

      • jonathan__c

        You nailed it Caroline…. this isn’t about men or women making each other uncomfortable… this is about humans struggling with their insecurities in an environment that clearly showcases who is good and who is not.

        When I was a beginner climber, as a male, I was so insecure I would pretty much not even climb when there were other people around. It gave me anxiety and panic attacks. In fact, in many cases it was actually women who were assholes to me at the climbing gym… and I ended up kinda hiding out and climbing on my own for almost 2 years.

        Fast forward – climbing at the gym is a totally different experience. I feel the love, support, and community in a huge way. It’s like my tribe… men and women alike.

      • Beestingza

        This. Victim SJW culture also exists, and these ‘uncomfortable’ people flock to it in droves, and judging by the salt in this comment section, it hasn’t waned one bit.

      • karen straughan

        My approach to feeling comfortable was cultivating a deep, inner laziness.

        Sexism is a thing, for sure. If it went away, I think most women wouldn’t be very happy.

        A feminist grad student at the University of Waterloo did her Masters Thesis on perceptions of benevolent and hostile sexism.

        She set up some scenarios where men and women were interacting. In one, the man was treating the woman the way he treated other men. In another, he treated her better than he treated other men. She showed these scenarios to male and female subjects and then asked them how sexist the man was based on certain criteria (how likely do you think he’d be to assault a female partner? How likely do you think he’d be to deny a woman a promotion based on her sex?).

        She found that all the subjects perceived the man who treated the woman equally as sexist, and the man who treated the woman better as not sexist.

        She modified the experiment a bit, making it clear to the subjects that the man treating the woman equally was doing so to further the cause of women’s equality (he was doing it to benefit women, heh). Those men were deemed less sexist than the other guy, but still more sexist than the guy who treated the woman equally.

        It’s my experience that most women don’t spend enough time observing men together to realize how gently most of them treat us compared to how they treat each other.

        • Tee Kay

          there is a difference between equity and equality.
          feminism should be working for equity.
          equality is treating different things the same, equity is treating different things differently.
          its a slippery slope, but this article is dangerous.
          many others, too, are dangerous (on the so-called left).
          our men need compassion as well, a lot of women are too fed up to give what many wont listen to, even if they need it.

          n=1 articles are always dangerous, so are biased survey samples.
          but logic like, women are climbing as hard as men make feminism unnecessary, or it didnt happen to me so its not true, dont work very well.

          having worked in many gyms I’ve seen rampant sexism. its honestly not as bad comparatively in climbing gyms, but it still exists.

          sexism is part of our real world, its gonna carry over to the climbing world.
          if not at the crag, then around the campfire later.

          the problem with our society’s cultural evolution is that its made to pit people against each other, patriarchy hurts men, too.

          • karen straughan

            Equity is an even more ambiguous word than equality.

            Equity, or “substantive equality” was originally designated for things like wheelchair access to public buildings, ASL translators in courtrooms, government funding to teach blind people to read braille.

            Now it means, “the woman has 100% of the choices post-conception, including the choice to opt out of parental responsibility even after a child is born, but the man is financially responsible for his biological offspring even if he was 13 and she was 35 when it was conceived.”

            What kinds of rampant sexism are you seeing? Is it men hitting on women? Would you consider it sexism if women hit on men at the gym?

            Men ogling women? Of course women never ogle men.

            Sexualized comments by men about women? Women certainly have never done that before. In fact, I’ve never heard women suggest a fireman on the job “get his hose out,” or whatever, right to his face. I don’t distinctly remember being at a party once, and the cops knocking on our door due to a noise complaint, and female host giggling and joking right to their faces, “Oh my god, who ordered the strippers!?” (Canadian cops are VERY patient and unflappable, by the way, at least judging by their non-reaction.)

            Ooh, and speaking of strippers, I know at least one male strip company that actively seeks gay establishments even though all their dancers are straight, because men know to keep their hands to themselves, and nightclubs refuse to enforce “no touching” rules on ladies’ nights, arguing no women would show up if they did. And there was that pub in Scotland where the male servers used to wear kilts, but the female patrons were getting too handsy and reaching up to see if the men were “TRUE Scotsmen” (i.e. no underwear). None of those women got into any trouble whatsoever. The solution was to switch the uniform to trousers. Guess when men wear short skirts, they really ARE asking to be sexually assaulted.

            Is it sexism when men do it to women, but not sexism when women do it to men?

            Or are you going to argue about “equity” here. You know, that women should be allowed to do it to men, no harm done, but men be vilified as harassers when they do it to women?

            Because it honestly sounds like these kinds of arguments are little more than special pleading and appeals to female fragility. I hear feminists arguing all the time about how women are sexualized and how this is “sexism”. It’s not, if women do the same to men (and LGB people do it to people of the same sex). I hear feminists argue all the time that women being hit on is about male harassment and sexism, when women do the same to men and somehow that’s not sexism. I hear that when someone is drunk they can’t consent to sex, and in the same breath I hear feminists say a man’s drunken state doesn’t absolve him of rape if he had sex with an equally drunk woman.

            Amy Schumer can talk in her stand-up routine about the “disappointing” sex she had one night, when the guy who was giving her oral kept passing out, and she kept having to shake him awake. So hilarious, no? Not sexual assault at all.

            I’m getting awfully sick of it. Either women are capable of shouldering the same responsibilities as a man, and the same moral agency as a man, or they do not deserve the same rights and freedoms as a man.

            You don’t get to argue that “equity” means being more gentle with women, and more considerate of their feelings, and then say they’re equally capable of running companies or being politicians and that it’s an injustice that they’re underrepresented in positions of power. You don’t get to say women should get paid period leave because they just can’t be expected to go to work when they’re on the rag, and then insist that it’s a travesty we still haven’t had a woman as president of the country.

            And you certainly don’t get to criticize the double standards that favor men when you’re arguing for maintaining all the double standards that favor women, “because equity”.

    • Augusta Ada Byron

      “Gender is a social construct” – it is most assuredly not.

      And funny how those “conditioned and in-built attitudes” come from other females, especially mothers, ain’t it?

  • Caroline Treadway

    Thank you Davita for writing this!!! So refreshing. I think a lot of women perceive their own insecurities as sexism. It’s much easier to blame and complain than to face ourselves and change how we interact in the world.

    • Lilace Mellin Guignard

      Yes, I especially liked that part too. But I agree with Meh that the two stances aren’t that far apart really. The internalized fear and lack of self esteem many women feel are a result of a culture of sexism. Individual women get this in different amounts, and it does not have to be reinforced by abuse or violent acts of sexism by individual males. It can be hard to undo such internalized sexism but climbing (and other outdoor recreation) are great subcultures for women to experience a interactions with many men who are comfortable having strong (physically, emotionally, etc.) women around. But we can’t expect women/girls to enter the subculture without some baggage. Let’s talk together and help each other. Just hearing other perspectives from those around us can ease women out of complaint feminism and men new to the subculture out of mild, internalized sexism they might have internalized without realizing it.

    • Todd Wynn

      Well, said.

    • Melise


  • Michael Gurian

    Davita, I loved your article! It is measured, well researched, and rings true to me as an academic gender researcher. Full disclosure to other readers: I am your father and love you, so of course I’m going to love what you write!

    But still, your woman’s perspective, as I’ve watched it grow over the last 23 years, is invaluable, I believe, to our present day conversation about the human condition. As a baby boomer and feminist for much of my life (raised by your grandparents, both avid feminists), I’ve lived as you know in India, Turkey, the Middle East…these are parts of the world where we can see the deep need for male/masculine attack/complaint feminism. In places of true systematic oppression of girls and women, we can feel the passion to battle for equal rights for women whatever the kind of feminism we need to practice.

    In the U.S. Canada, Europe, and other well developed parts of the world, however, the human condition is changing but feminism, at least as some people practice it, has not evolved–which I think you describe beautifully in your article. Now, approximately 1/4 of Americans will even call themselves feminists, according to Sheryl Sandberg (Lean In). I think this has happened because feminism in the U.S., for instance, is not mainly about equal rights anymore–for many people, it has become as you’ve described it: an attack/complaint ideology that bolsters its own ideological ideas, such as “if a woman is uncomfortable near a man, he has oppressed/harmed her,” “masculinity itself is inherently harmful/not useful,” and “gender is all socialized anyway, there is no genetics/nature involved.” None of these things are true in the aggregate (though for an individual girl/woman, the first two can be true), yet our present day approach to the billions of males worldwide on the gender spectrum is to use ideology above truth.

    The “microaggressions” you mention are a case in point. As you know, I completed a four year meta-study of gender research last year (studying thousands of other studies/data), and discovered that 95% of “microaggressions” are complaints against boys and men. While some males do bad things to women, children, and one another, a 95% number indicates a terribly skewed framework, one that is driving smart young people like you away from “feminism” as a guiding ideology, and that is a shame. Feminism was once not a mantle of entitlement, nor a way to eschew self-awareness for women; it was once a way to help human beings move toward equally empowered humanity.

    Congratulations, Davita, on a wonderful article! I hope it becomes a part of an ongoing conversation in climbing-culture about not just the needs of women and men, but the whole human condition. From you, your sister, and your mother, all of whom are avid climbers, I’ve learned that the world of climbing is a microcosm of much that is good, growing, and evolving in this world. I’m proud to witness all of this through your eyes.

  • Emily Matherly

    Thank you so much. “Complaint feminism” casts blame and hides safely behind a seemingly impermeable shield. You are courageous for tackling this before the rampant tribe mentality drives wedge in the climbing community. Less whining, more crushing, please.

    • Matthew

      There is no “complaint feminism”, that’s all feminism. Never forget that the original suffragettes were protected, wealthy middle class women, who upon the first world war breaking out immediately transformed in to the white feather brigade, without once changing their tactics.

      • Court

        I’m not sure what the critique here is? That they were wealthy and white? Yeah, feminism had some real problems with intersectionality. It still does. But it seems more like you’re suggesting that because they were wealthy they were not oppressed? That women are just a bunch of complainers for wanting things like voting rights, reproductive health care, access to work, options for life outside the home… what a bunch of babies, amirite??? Hope I’m wrong!

        • karen straughan

          You could try googling the white feather brigade. And then think about it.

          The majority of British men who fought in WWI didn’t have the vote. Suffragettes not only campaigned for a military draft (that would apply to men only), they put up posters criticizing the fact that men unfit for military service (showing a man walking with crutches), if they had the vote, were not stripped of it. And they participated in the pinning of white feathers on the lapels of British men in civilian clothes, to publicly shaming them for avoiding their duty to enlist.

          When women were granted suffrage, some 5 million men were granted the franchise in the same act of parliament, the justification being that men had overwhelmingly fought for their country and their sacrifice should be acknowledged.

          Does that sound like the suffragettes were interested in equality between men and women? I mean, sure, in the whole “rights” part, but not in the “obligations” part.

          There were also tax resistance societies promoting women’s suffrage. The slogan was “no vote, no tax”, and indeed, women’s property and income were taxable. The problem was that at the time, women were not responsible for paying it.

          The Married Women’s Property Act had emancipated women’s property and income from their husbands’ control, but had not absolved their husbands from being financially responsible for all the necessaries of the wife and family–including the tax burden owing on her income and property. If she didn’t pay her taxes voluntarily, it came out of his income or he went to prison for tax evasion.

          This same Act also prohibited him from demanding any documentation of her income or property. It was not his right to know how much she earned or what she owned. This was, however, vital information for him to have if he was to calculate the taxes on it.

          One suffragette in 1910, Dr. Elizabeth Wilks (yes, a female physician way back before women were allowed to work or get an education) refused to pay her taxes. Her schoolteacher husband Mark was promptly jailed for tax evasion, despite him pleading that not only did he not have the funds to pay his wealthy wife’s taxes after paying for all of the needs of the household–she had refused to give him the necessary information so that he could calculate how much she owed.

          This eventually caused such an uproar in the press, with his wife giving smug interviews encouraging other suffragettes to “follow suit” while her husband’s health deteriorated in prison, that he was released “on humanitarian grounds. He died a few months later.

          Still think they were all about equality between men and women?

          • Court

            I didn’t need a history lesson because I wasn’t defending suffragettes. They were super problematic for more reasons than listed above (racism being my biggest concern here). But rather I was interrogating the idea that feminism has always been a bunch of “complainers” — when the things most women complained about during this movement were completely valid. The idea that anyone who subscribes to the idea of equality between sexes, i.e. “Feminism,” must also be perfectly aligned with irrelevant movements from nearly 100 years ago is a pretty weird leap. But thanks for the info! Add it to the list of reasons why intersectional, and historically conscious feminism is necessary!

          • Matthew

            “I didn’t need a history lesson”

            Apparently you did: Had you not needed a history lesson, what you would have taken away from my comment wouldn’t have been “I’m not sure what the critique here is? That they were wealthy and white.”

            What you would have taken form it is that there is no such thing as complaint feminism, because that defines all feminism, even from the earliest days of it’s codification as a actual movement.

            See the white feather brigade was the epitome of the hiding behind an impermeable shield, while casting blame that Emily mentioned. They demanded rights, but the second it looked like those rights might put them in harms way they hid behind men & demanded “you need to go die for my rights, because otherwise you aren’t a real man. I’ll be back here where it’s safe.”

            Because being white & wealthy WASN’T a protection against dying in war, many noble families had their family trees denuded by war.

            Also, stop upvoting your own comments, it’s just sad.

          • Court

            Riiiiiiight. So because some people nearly 100 years ago were shitty, that means that feminism (equality between sexes) is inherently tied up in the same project of pinning white feathers on mens hats?

            What is it exactly you think contemporary women are hiding behind?? Im not sure what the actual problem would be if we took 65% of women seriously, and engaged with why they feel uncomfortable, instead of dismissing them through shallow, descontextualizadas anecdotes??

            I’m not going to even dignify the idea that sexism doesn’t exist and that seems to be where this is going so Godspeed 🖖🏼

          • karen straughan

            I will replicate the comment from “Guest”:

            “I didn’t need a history lesson because I wasn’t defending suffragettes. They were super problematic for more reasons than listed above (racism being my biggest concern here).”

            I find their sexism more problematic, given that they were portraying Woman as unjustly oppressed, demeaned and subjugated by Man in all spheres of life, and all of Man’s privileges as unearned.

            What they wanted was “equality” of all the good things men had, and the “status quo” regarding all the negative things men dealt with. Yes to votes, but who wants conscription? Yes to owning my own property, but who wants to give up the entitlement to a husband’s financial support? Yes to automatic mother-custody after divorce, but it’s only fair that dad still have to pay all the bills for the kids’ household, no? Yes to the right to enter into contracts, but if I default I’d rather my husband be held responsible for the debt, just like when I needed his permission.

            “But rather I was interrogating the idea that feminism has always been a bunch of “complainers” — when the things most women complained about during this movement were completely valid.”

            Well, let’s put it this way. Feminists back then were complaining that they needed a husband’s permission to take out a loan. They *weren’t* complaining about how he was the one ultimately responsible for repaying it, so he continued to be responsible for that, in many jurisdictions for more than 75 years. They were complaining about having to hand their property into their husband’s care upon marriage. They *weren’t* complaining about having all their necessaries paid for by their husbands.

            “The idea that anyone who subscribes to the idea of equality between sexes, i.e. “Feminism,” must also be perfectly aligned with irrelevant movements from nearly 100 years ago is a pretty weird leap.”

            “Irrelevant”? Given how much they got done and the massive impact it had on men, children and society (not all of it good), I’d hardly say they were irrelevant.

            At the very least, the idea that anyone who subscribes to the idea of equality between the sexes, i.e. “Feminism,” should actually advocate for equality and not “equality only when it benefits women” should really not be considered a leap at all, let alone a weird one.

            “But thanks for the info! Add it to the list of reasons why intersectional, and historically conscious feminism is necessary!”

            Replace “feminism” with advocacy and you’d be spot on. Unfortunately, feminism today, even the intersectional kind, subscribes to a set of theories that perpetuate the exact gender stereotypes it claims to want to dispel, and that scapegoat men as the source of all injustice. It does little more than discourage and dishearten women, make them feel like victims, and engender resentment of men as the root cause of all of women’s problems.

            Look at it this way. Feminism is so concerned with how language influences people, they demanded back in the 1980s and 90s that fireman be changed to firefighter, policeman to police officer, chairman to chair, councilman to councillor. The impact of such gendered language, they claimed, was so subtly powerful, it could discourage girls and even grown women from aspiring to these positions.

            Yet what gendered words have they consistently insisted on maintaining?

            Patriarchy: the source of all oppression and injustice, the wellspring from which racism, classism, colonialism and all other forms of oppression sprung.

            Feminism: the force for justice and equality, the movement that benefits all people (even men, because Patriarchy hurts men too, dontcha know).

            So they can name oppression basically “men”, and justice after “women”, and that kind of language has no implications at all, apparently. They’re not blaming men. They just named everything bad after them. And apparently, all they really want is equality.

            And as if that isn’t enough, look at all the gendered language they’ve coined recently: mansplaining, manslamming, manterrupting, manspreading. Rude behaviors engaged in by both men and women (some, like interrupting, engaged in more often by women, in my experience), but it’s perfectly fine to masculinize those behaviors and attribute them to maleness, because reasons. And “femicide”, because the killing of a woman is extra tragic, no matter the circumstances, and it has “gendered implications”. Domestic violence? Why, that’s “violence against women” now. Online harassment? That’s now “Cyber violence against women and girls,” and never mind that men receive more of it, and the most at risk group is 19 year old males.

            Yep, we sure need more intersectional feminism. Teach men not to rape. Don’t be that guy. Respect women. Stop violence against women. Billboards that show a little boy, with the caption, “when I grow up, I’m going to beat my wife.” Let’s make middle school boys pledge to never harm a girl or woman, while their female classmates have 50 kinds of “boys are stupid, throw rocks at them” merchandise to choose from. That won’t fuck up their little heads, will it?

            And if men complain, even if they only complain on behalf of boys, we’ll break out the “male tears” coffee mugs and call them “manbabies”, because that’s what’s fashionable among the feminist Twitterati.

            Let’s have more of that, please.

  • lauren

    I agree with you in that I experience less oppression and discrimination in the climbing community than in other facets of life. But as you say, sexism and oppression of women does still exist. The reason I like to climb with other women is because I don’t find myself second-guessing when women give me unwanted beta. When I climb with men I feel more defensive when I get sprayed down, “he thinks I can’t figure it out because I’m a woman…” “oh k, here’s another dude trying to tell me how to live my life…” even if 90% of the time that was not the dude’s intention, he really just wanted to be helpful -it still strikes a nerve. I can’t help but feel defensive about my female independence and experience, in a world that still has deep-rooted assumptions about male superiority.

    As women, we have historically and culturally been sexually objectified by men. It is difficult for me to articulate, because it’s not so direct that when I climb with men I feel objectified (I don’t feel that way…mostly) but more that when I climb with women I absolutely do not have to think about being judged (by women/men) as slutty, vying for men’s (sexual) attention, it just is about our experience, climbing for ourselves, not FOR men.

    I do love to climb with dudes. And I love to climb with ladies. But your statement, “Why are we trying to come together as women at the expense of our male climbing partners?” is just silly. Men are not suffering due to feminism, “complaint-feminism” or other. So maybe men feel the need to be extra careful about their language, so as not to be called “sexist,” …not my problem. Women being independent and climbing with each other, the same way dude’s like to bro-down with their fellow bro-buds is equally beneficial for both sexes.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • calder

      I don’t think that the author intended for that statement to come out as you heard it.. I don’t believe she thinks that it’s wrong to climb with your friends like guys like to climb with their “bro’s”, but that it shouldn’t be with an anti-man foundation.

      • lauren

        what “anti-man” foundation? i mean who is making enemies with men? davita uses erin monahan’s article as an example, but if you read the article, “i’m not your babe, bro” she’s really just investigating these terms that we might use innocently, but have deeper implications. (i don’t happen to fully agree with erin, but i don’t think she’s shaming or blaming men in her article). and also with shelma’s article there is no blame directed towards men, it is simply a fact that many women feel judged and uncomfortable climbing around throngs of bros likely spraying beta in the cave at the gym (and maybe if you were one dude climbing amongst a bunch a burly ladies, making menstrual jokes you might feel uncomfortable too, but usually it’s the first scenario). so, exactly who is it that is making up this “anti-man” feminist brigade in the climbing community? the women’s climbing festival, pretty sure it has nothing to do with shaming/blaming men, the whole point is that it’s a venue for women to learn from and be represented by other bad-ass ladies, right? a privilege that men have had for centuries…

        • calder

          I hear ya Lauren, I didn’t say there was a brigade, and I didn’t mean to make anyone angry. I thought your comment might have been misunderstood. By “foundation”, I meant undertone. Or base. Should have chosen a different word. I apologize for the confusion.

          • lauren

            it’s all good! i got heated re-reading davita’s article and didn’t mean to direct all of that at you!

          • calder

            Don’t worry about it. I regret commenting on any article eventually anyway ha.

    • Kevin Gallagher

      Don’t let anyone give you unwanted beta! Super rude to spray someone without asking.

      • calder

        Maybe if someone told you prior that you didn’t want any help.. but how is it rude to offer advice?

        • Kevin G.

          You shouldn’t assume that someone wants beta unless 1) They have asked for it or 2) You offered and they said yes.

          Part of the process of climbing/bouldering is figuring out a sequence or sequences. Sometimes it is helpful to collaborate with others or to be sprayed down with beta while on or off the rock. Other times figuring it out on your own is enjoyable and educational. If you spray someone down you may deprive them of that experience.

          So, offering unsolicited beta to someone is poor form. It is very simple, just ask:

          “Do you want beta?” or “Would you like beta?” Or “Would you like to know what works for me?” etc.

          That is the polite way to offer and is generally considered good climbing etiquette.

          • calder

            I agree with you. Even offering up advice seems to be something people get angry about. What I don’t understand is people getting offended when people are trying to be friendly in the gym or outside. Some people need to relax a bit, gyms are social places and some people go there more in part for that reason alone.

          • Kevin G.

            No doubt. Some people are a bit surly but that is just the way of it.

    • time waster

      “So maybe men feel the need to be extra careful about their language, so as not to be called “sexist,” …not my problem.”

      HA. More reasons for me to be anti-feminist. If you don’t like the way I say things, you need to toughen up buttercup. I’m not going to change as it doesn’t make me uncomfortable.

      • lauren

        what does being anti-feminist mean exactly to you?

      • Court

        If someone says “Hey, that thing you’re doing is really hurtful” would you respond the same way? Is it really that easy to dehumanize people who are simply telling you that your actions may be offensive, and just downright mean? I wouldn’t consider that form of apathy and disengagement with the experiences of other humans a source of pride.

        • Matthew

          “If someone says ‘Hey, that thing you’re doing is really hurtful’ would you respond the same way?”

          Yes, since the thing being done isn’t actually hurtful, you are just butthurt.

          “Is it really that easy to dehumanize people who are simply telling you that your actions may be offensive, and just downright mean?”

          Yes, since offense can only be taken, it can’t be given.

          For example, I demand you close your disqus account immediately, you having an account is hurtful, offensive & downright mean. If you don’t close your account down immediately then I will consider that to be a form of apathy and disengagement with the experiences of other humans a source of pride.

          So, no more commenting from you, time for you to close your account. Right?

          • Court

            The only point you’re making is that you lack empathy and choose not to listen when people are trying to meaningfully engage with you. But it’s cool, we all gotta feel self righteous sometimes!

          • Augusta Ada Byron

            As soon as I read the word “hurtful”, I know some complete bs is to follow.

    • Beestingza

      Men are suffering a lot more for feminism these days than you admit. Did you hear about Mattress Girl? About the false UVA Rape story? The so-called “rape culture”? These cases are innumerable, and this bizarre, hyper-sensitive victim culture is just bulldozing men in favor of this balmy ‘feminist’ narrative. Men and boys are falling behind in school and work as a consequence of this overzealous and essentially sexist movement. Intersectional feminism is a disaster of epic proportions.

      • lauren

        beestingza, are you a rock climber?

        • bilabus123

          Do you even lift, fake gamer girl?

    • eirik

      You sound like a fun hang.

      “When I climb with men I feel more defensive when I get sprayed down, “he thinks I can’t figure it out because I’m a woman…” “oh k, here’s another dude trying to tell me how to live my life…” even if 90% of the time that was not the dude’s intention, he really just wanted to be helpful -it still strikes a nerve. I can’t help but feel defensive about my female independence and experience, in a world that still has deep-rooted assumptions about male superiority.”

      You articulate your own prejudices against men as something men should be conciderate about. Do you recommend this as a general strategy to handle prejudice? It’s weird you don’t see the bigotry here.

      “As women, we have historically and culturally been sexually objectified by men.”

      Men and women objectify each other, since they, statistically/historically/biologically speaking, want to have sex with each other.

      Thing is, the term “sexually objectified” doesn’t really mean anything in this context, it’s just a radical feminist slogan. It doesn’t make you, or women or men or anyone generally, victims.

    • After climbing for almost 20 years, I’ve never had a negative experience climbing with guys, minus the odd creeper at the gym here and there. But I have definitely had negative experiences climbing with women, even if under the guise of supportive comments.

      • Yuriko

        So you did have negative experiences climbing with guys

        • I’ve never had a negative experience with a male climbing partner. I’ve had a couple creeper dudes I didn’t know give me unwanted beta. But I was not climbing ‘with’ them.

        • 2 somewhat lame encounters with noob dudes in 20 years is a pretty great ratio compared to the non-climbing world!

      • Melise

        That is your personal experience that does not speak for the entire female climbing community. The “I’ve never experienced it so it isn’t a problem” argument is so damaging. What would it cost any one to believe women who have negative experiences (instead of saying it is due to a personal insecurity as you stated above?) Your experiences are valid, but you cannot use them to invalidate other experiences and judge whether or not other women have dealt with sexism in the climbing community.

  • sanford1425

    Did you critically analyze your choice to use Sommers at all? This immediately descredits much of your argument. She’s a failed wannabe philosopher who struggled to get published due to her lack of integrity in actually using evidence to support her analysis, so she got funded by the American Enterprise Institute instead. “Institute” is the emptiest of words in this case. For historical reasons, the AEI calls its public relations content staff “scholars,” just as the Nazis used the word “socialist” in their own title — and about as accurately. AEI has most recently drawn a lot of attention for its attempts to buy scientists to deny climate change and its human causation. The Guardian called it “bribery,” which the AEI indignantly denied: they were grants, for heaven’s sake. Grants which simply required that the scientists deny that human-caused climate change was a problem, or existed at all. Grants, in short, awarded based on the pre-existing bias of the scientists, rather than the quality or potential value of the work to anyone besides Exxon.

    AEI is an heir of the Heritage Foundation, a so-called “think tank” which basically wrote the policy for Ronald Reagan the way the Koch Brothers’ ALEC organization is now trying to write laws for federal, state, and local governments along rigid ultra-conservative lines. **** In fact, the Koch Brothers are the primary funders of AEI. Its goal is to provide the “theoretical” and argumentative base for political policy, as the Heritage Foundation did in a different era.

    Sommers is a “feminist” paid to be the anti-feminist front the way a few “scientists” are paid to be the anti climate-change front. She’s a relatively unimportant pr woman, since feminism is not the greatest threat to billionaires, the way re-evaluating the plunder of the earth’s resources obviously is. But she was hired, and is now paid, to make these videos. AEI sponsors them. It’s reasonable to assume that AEI also provides the technological assistance necessary to get them out there, the marketing assistance to get Sommers’ name in the papers as the face of the anti-feminist movement, and possibly the events arrangers for her to give speeches and otherwise be given credibility as a “national expert.”

    • Pete

      Suppose for a second someone reading this editorial and the comments aren’t steeped in feminism and are rather undecided. (Me)

      How exactly did Davita go wrong? You’ve spent your entire comment explaining why she is wrong, but haven’t actually addressed any of her points or concerns. Isn’t it a bit of putting the cart before the horse?

      • Ryan C

        Left wing debate tactics 101: Don’t address the merit of the ideas, slander the individual who created the idea to the point that you destroy their credibility and silence them.

        • sanford1425

          So… you’re the one using wild sweeping generalizations and derailing. If you want to actually discuss the point you’re supposedly responding to, then respond to that point, but you’re somehow making this about ‘the left’ and making this a platform to wildly attack the entire left wing.
          If you’re going to quote an academic, quote an actual academic. That’s the point I was making. She’s funded by a faux think tank that’s driven by the Koch brothers – It’s clearly not going to produce neutral research.

        • Joan

          Whom is silencing whom here? Criticism of someone’s opinions/research is not the same as censorship; this is the basis of all logical thinking. If an academic has serious conflicts of interest that may bias his/her opinions/evidence, then we as the consumers of that opinion deserve to be informed about it. Simple.

        • jonathan__c

          Left wing tactics? Give me a fucking break. Take your partisan, narrow minded bullshit somewhere else. Preferably as far away from the sport of climbing as possible.

          • nupark

            As someone generally on the liberal left, I try to take the best possible interpretation of these kinds of comments and assume they meant the so-called *regressive* far-left.

            My experience is that engaging in this manner makes the nuance clear to the original commenter, even if they didn’t really mean it that way to begin with.

        • Augusta Ada Byron

          Right out of the SJW syllabus: Use ad hominem attacks against anyone who dares question the “Narrative”.

      • sanford1425

        I actually did – I explained that her only attempt to use any kind of scholarly backing came from a source not considered credible by true academic communities that depend on verifiable research.

        • Pete

          Honestly, when I see someone make an off-the-cuff comparison to the Nazis, I kind of just think they are a blow-hard using hyperbole.

          You, essentially, accuse Davita of being a dupe or a dunce for trusting a “scholar” (whether she deserves the title is debatable, fine); in spite of having an otherwise well reasoned and articulated editorial. So, your main objection boils down to: you disagree with one source. But, then you continue to drive the point home by committing a bunch of ad hominem attacks.

          Again, assuming I was an undecided (I still am). Which side do you think is more attractive at the moment?

          • sanford1425

            I don’t believe Davita’s a dupe. I believe she would like her writing to be taken seriously, and this prevents me, a reader who cares about evidence and neutrally-funded sources, to not take it seriously. If it’s her *only* ‘academic’ source, she might want to make it a good one.
            It’s also not my job to be attractive to you – As someone who cares about actual information informing our arguments, I prioritize adding background that provides full context. If you choose to not consider that context, that’s your choice. I’m not going to avoid providing information or analogies (I compared usage of terms, not an actual person) that clarify just because it makes you uncomfortable.

          • Suddenlysusan23

            You aren’t an intelligent person.

          • sanford1425

            Haha. Solid argument. I really like the complexity and nuance of it. I can tell you were definitely going for a well-informed productive discussion here. Thumbs up!

          • Suddenlysusan23

            It’s no use arguing with people like you.
            I’m just telling you that despite what you clearly think you’re not an intelligent person. I hope for your sake you’re a freshman in college or something.

      • April Goldman-Sims

        Pete, there is honestly so much wrong with Davita’s article that it’s hard to know where to start.

        First, the title. We live in a country where women are paid 80 cents on the dollar to men. Women do not have guaranteed paid maternity leave. Women do not have access to affordable early childcare. If the ACA is repealed, many women will not have access to affordable well-women’s healthcare. The largest demographic of minimum wage workers? Single moms. To run an article called “When feminism goes too far” inside this kind of social climate is pretty ignorant. It tells me that Davita may not have personally struggled with any of these economic realities – or may not have close friends and family members who have. If she did, she would have a better sense of how much further feminism has to go and would have chosen a more appropriate title.

        But what would that title be? “Women shouldn’t complain about harassment unless it constitutes rape” Or how about “Women shouldn’t let you know if you hurt their feelings.” Or “Women should adhere to masculine standards of behavior.” None of those things sound very good – I would argue all are pretty disturbing – but they are all arguments that she seems to be making in her piece.

        I’d be happy to talk more about this with you offline if you are curious.


        • bleeblejeebs

          If you want to argue from stats, a majority of women are also statistically favored over men under western courts of law, exempt from the military draft, given weight over men in a survival scenario across world cultures due to biological factors, live longer on average, statistically are less probable to be at the extremes of smarter/dumber on any measurable intelligence tests, are less prone to mental disease, and suicide. You can’t pick and choose from equality of outcomes. That’s a fact of life.

          I disagree with the article, its premise, and its divisive clickbaity title, but pulling long-discredited statistics like the gender wage gap to try and prove your point gives your point no merit. Your comment also tries to equate this harassment to be equivalent to not getting affordable healthcare, which is patently ridiculous, because last I checked climbers were not responsible for setting medical policy in the United States, and bigotry is not financially profitable or expedient.

          Any company in the world would like to pay men 20% less, too. The gender wage gap therefore doesn’t make sense from a fiscal standpoint. Would you be satisfied if everyone of both genders was paid less?

        • Beestingza

          The wage gap is pure unadulterated bullshit. It is a myth, and has been debunked by many different economists. It is an *earnings* gap, that can be accounted for by different life choices. When you adjust for these choices the “gap” almost disappears. Men and women are different. Full stop. They also have different strengths and weaknesses, and different drives. Stop trying to bring men down to prop women up.

          • karen straughan

            I’ve heard metallurgy is better. Same with underwater welding. Ooh, and if you want to earn like stink without needing a four year degree (and the massive debt that goes with it), industrial radiography.

          • Fred Bastiat

            Exactly right.

            Not electrical engineering, but I have a son doing extremely well as an electrician. HIs employer has openly talked about wanting a female (and minority) electrician. My son is mixed native american, so not the right kind of minority for what the employer wants. Though I supported financially all my children seeking college educations (legitimate degrees), My focus was not school, but skills and knowledge. The first two years of a four year college are a scam and waste, but its part of the cost of government – I don’t see a way around for certain career pursuits.

          • Augusta Ada Byron

            The pay for NYC garbage collectors is very high…funny that no women want that job, ain’t it?

        • Devon

          But what would that title be? “Women shouldn’t complain about harassment unless it constitutes rape” Or how about “Women shouldn’t let you know if you hurt their feelings.” Or “Women should adhere to masculine standards of behavior.”

          Perhaps Davita’s title should suggest that people with your negative world view are your own worst enemy…at least that’s what I read from your response.

          Everyone’s got problems; men included. But this climate of hypersensitivity and manufactured outrage is wearing pretty thin… if you want to keep at it by all means, but please stop pretending that you’re making the world a better place.

        • karen straughan

          “First, the title. We live in a country where women are paid 80 cents on the dollar to men.”

          Please no. I really need to stick a generic response somewhere on my hard drive for every time someone brings this up.

          Women are NOT paid less for the same work as men. That 80 cents and that dollar are what you get when you add up all the earnings of men who work at least 35 hours a week year-round, and all the earnings of women who work at least 35 hours a week year-round, and compare them.

          The average woman works a 38 hour week. The average man works a 41 hour week. That alone cuts the gap almost in half. Men are more willing to work overtime, swing shifts and graveyards, which often pay more. Men are more willing to travel for work, or relocate. Men are more willing to work outdoors. Men have longer average commutes. Men are more likely to work in fields that require constant upgrading of training. Men dominate 9 out of the 10 highest paying jobs (like engineering), while women dominate in 8 of the 10 lowest paying ones (like social work). Men are more likely to waive taxable benefits such as health insurance in exchange for higher pay. Men are more likely to work in lucrative but dangerous vocations such as mining, fishing and logging, leading to a workplace death gap of about 19 deaths out of 20. All of these choices lead to men earning more, on average.

          You want to earn like a man? Make choices like one.

          “Women do not have guaranteed paid maternity leave.”

          If they did, it would only increase that pesky pay gap, since lengthy breaks from one’s career come with a wage penalty (for both men and women).

          “Women do not have access to affordable early childcare.” At whose expense should this be supplied? When my mother had me, in the land of universal health care, milk and honey (Canada), there was no paid maternity leave. Daycare was barely a thing, and not subsidized. Hospital deliveries were covered, but prenatal care was not. My parents managed by engaging in what used to be known back in those misty times of yore, “family planning.” They saved up in advance and had babies when they could afford them. Neat, huh?

          “The largest demographic of minimum wage workers? Single moms.”

          Solution: don’t have babies as a single woman. Get an education, get a relationship, then get kids. (Also, incidentally, when I was divorced, I worked a minimum wage job–but more than 3/4 of my income was in tips. Most servers don’t pay taxes on them, and they don’t get factored into the wage gap you were talking about up there. And incidentally, most servers are women.)

          “To run an article called “When feminism goes too far” inside this kind of social climate is pretty ignorant.”

          Hey, here’s something you might not know: noncustodial parents (mostly dads) are taxed on their full income and their child support is calculated based on their full income, then the child support is taken from their net income after taxes and delivered to mom tax-free. The majority of men penalized for failure to pay child support have incomes of less than $10,000/year. I wonder how many of them CHOSE to be fathers…

          I sure hope you’ve never used the term “deadbeat dad”. It would be pretty ignorant in this kind of legal and economic climate. It would tell me that you may not have personally struggled with such economic realities.

          “Women should adhere to masculine standards of behavior.”

          Boy, I sure hope you aren’t one of those people who think women should be in front-line combat positions if they want to. They’d have to adhere to masculine standards of behavior. Toughness and grit shouldn’t be mandatory, even in combat. Too masculine.

          My grandmother would have told you to stop complaining and find something useful to do.

        • Matthew

          “We live in a country where women are paid 80 cents on the dollar to men.”

          No you don’t. You live in a country where the average amount EARNED by women is lower than the average amount EARNED by men. This average does not represent any man or woman living or dead, nor does it control for any other variable.

    • Ryan C

      Sommers is a widely respected and published author who uses fact based arguments to support rational conclusions.

      Though, like anyone who speaks out against Feminism she has been bombarded with repeated and vicious attacks on her character from the left. Largely because they are unable to effectively debate her ideas. Thats the Left wing SJW method. Don’t debate the idea, attack the source of the idea.

      Go read one of her books, if you disagree with her position, present logical, rational evidence that suggests she is wrong. Don’t sit there and slander her with no bases for your position.

      • sanford1425

        I have – read her books that is – When you say “widely respected” what do you mean? What are your criteria?

        • Ryan C

          She currently has 140,000 followers on twitter, that alone suggest a wide audience that respects her. Most of them are likely conservatives though. She also frequents paced room speaking engagements at educational institutions. Again, suggesting wide respect. Not to be confused with ubiquitous respect though. The left doesn’t like her very much because she challenges their narrative.

          If you have read her books then debate her ideas and prove her false. Show where how her ideas are incorrect. Don’t slander her.

          • sanford1425

            Are you considering 140,000 followers on twitter to means she’s respectable? I follow people I don’t respect. How many followers does Trump have? How many followers do most visible scientologists have?
            I already stated concrete reasons for not agreeing with her – She doesn’t use evidence, and you can’t even argue against something that doesn’t exist. When I see credible randomized control trials with significant sample sizes and confidence intervals, I’ll be interested. But they’re not there. That’s the argument.

          • nupark

            She’s a a published author, a former tenured professor of philosophy, a current research fellow at a think tank, _and_ she has 140,000 Twitter followers.

            I think that’s sufficient to argue that she holds some degree of capability — and deserved respect — in the intellectual sphere.

            As for not using evidence, that’s not true. The evidence exists in abundance, and she does cite it. The problem is that there’s a strong tendency in gender academia to ignore physical evidence that doesn’t fit their own working model of gender roles (patriarchy theory, intersectionality, critical theory et al), and particularly in social psychology and social anthropology, to data-hack their own research to fit the same.

          • karen straughan

            So many feminist myths, and Sommers has tackled so many of them.

            The rule of thumb? Never existed, except in carpentry.

            Wife-battering was acceptable? It was punishable by public flogging, fines and/or jail time as far back as the first colonies in the US.

            Super Bowl domestic violence epidemic? Total bunkum, contradicted by data from several police agencies (who were concerned about it, after reading about it in the newspapers).

            Super Bowl sex trafficking scare? Law enforcement reported no increase in prostitution or trafficking.

            Domestic violence is the leading cause of birth defects? March of Dimes claim they never said that, and no credible data exists to support it.

            Boys get more attention in class than girls? Technically yes, both boys and girls agree boys get more *negative* attention in class.

            Girls being shortchanged in basic education in 1994? Dubious, given they’d achieved parity in university enrolment nearly ten years prior to that.

            Domestic violence being the leading cause of death for black women aged 15 to 39? Not even all homicides lumped together make the number 1 spot. Car accidents and cancer appear to be in the top two. (Also, what an abhorrent thing to falsely imply about black men.)

            Meanwhile, you have math-challenged male feminists claiming that a man has a greater chance of being killed by an asteroid than being falsely accused of rape!!?? If that’s remotely true, I’m building an underground bunker.

            But of course, it’s not. He based his “findings” on a man’s per-sexual encounter risk (which was itself based on an assumed average of 100 sexual encounters per year), and then compared that per-encounter risk against the lifetime risk of being hit by an asteroid. Little did he realize that a man doesn’t need to have had sex with a woman, or even know her, to be falsely accused of sexual assault. Just ask Mark Pearson, who was falsely accused (and prosecuted!) for allegedly sexually penetrating an actress during the second or so they walked past each other in the Waterloo station of London’s Underground. The entire thing was captured on CCTV, and it’s clear he never touched her.

            But yes, feminist abuse of statistics and math knows no bounds. Pearson should probably have built a bunker to protect him from the asteroid. He’d have been safe from a rape accusation in there.

      • Augusta Ada Byron

        I saw Sommers just recently at Columbia. She is intelligent and interesting and, best of all, sane. I had thought that her speech would be disrupted by the usual SJWs, but was disappointed. At the Q&A afterwards, a few of them did try to commandeer the microphone to lecture and scold her on the ‘correct’ ways of thinking (why do SJWs always talk so loudly?).

        Sommers politely allowed them go on for a few minutes and then asked “Is there a question?” That shut them us, as SJWs do not ask questions, as that implies curiously, a willingness to consider alternative points of view, and an interest in learning something new…but you can’t learn anything if you know everything!

    • InBeforeTheLock

      For someone so critical of Sommers, you offer exactly zero counter arguments to her stance. Even worse, you come up with some sort of conspiracy theory about her intentions. And you dare criticize the author? Laughable response.

    • Augusta Ada Byron

      Oh good, was waiting for someone to throw in “Nazis”.

      Godwin’s Law…thanks for that!

  • Ryan C

    Well written article, kudos, one thing that I enjoy about climbing (other than it being a freaking amazing sport) is that it has been much more resistant to the SJW, identity politics bullshit that has exploded into our society over the last few years. It really is disheartening to see it starting to leak into the climbing community as well. Whining based social justice activism and victim based social justice activism is such impediment to everyone. It doesn’t help a single soul while it drags people down left and right. We need to shed it asap or its impact is going to get worse and worse.

    • Beestingza

      I fear that the wave is far from cresting. Trump merely energized the authoritarian-illiberal regressive SJW Marxist left.

  • Frank Minunni

    Thanks for a dose of reality. I’m now 60 and still climbing. I get kidded all the time about being old but see it as a good way to connect with the younger folks. If I took offense every time someone said something that could somehow be construed as ageist, my hair would be a lot grayer than it already is. I can honestly say that on only one occasion did I feel like I was being disrespected by some younger climbers but it was short-lived and they apologized without my asking. If you look for affronts, you’ll find them, regardless of the intention.

    • Court

      Youre totally right that more groups than just women are disrespected and your attitude is seriously awesome. The difference has to do with more than just hurt feelings though. As a woman, I’ve turned down a dude at a climbing gym who not only wouldn’t take no for an answer but actually followed me out to my car. He may have been well intentioned but that’s actually really scary, especially considering the history of violence against women. This is a super extreme example, I just mean to point out that the creepy things that happen to women outside the gym don’t all automatically stop because climbing is happening. It’s possible the discomfort in the climbing world isn’t because some man undermined some woman, but rather climbing is part of the broader world with full people who are more than just climbers who are sometimes total buttheads.

      • bilabus123

        Doesn’t what you say here kind of illustrate the grander problem?

        A guy “followed you out to your car.” You say that “he may have been well-intentioned,” but that you found it scary. Even though your own brain, your thinking, your analysis, says that there’s every chance it was at least harmless, a part of you found it threatening. The reason why:

        “Considering the history of violence against women.”

        That’s a vaguely described history, and it leads to an inescapable question: *What if that’s a false narrative?* What if your 2nd-most-likely-scenario is the correct one, and there was nothing ill-intentioned about this interaction? You filed this incident under “scary,” the evidence being some kind of macro-scale feeling of “scaryness” that is a product of “history.” You add your own story to the big pile of “scary buttheads,” even though you yourself say maybe he was well-intentioned. What if the “history” you use to determine truth is a compilation of other such interactions consisting of ambiguous behavior interpreted in the worst way?

        This is entirely a matter of feelings. It’s a great big avalanche of feelings. It’s confirmation bias upon feelings upon confirmation bias upon feelings.

        • Court

          Blah blah blah I’m not going to indulge this fancy way of getting at #notallmen bullsht when women are sexually assaulted then simultaneously held accountable for their own sexual assault by not being more diligent in preventing it. Women aren’t mean because we don’t know if you’re the type of dude that’s gonna harm us so we take precautions, or minimially feel uneasy. If you want women to stop “unfairly” being afraid of men through supposedly faulty confirmation biases, perhaps get men to stop attacking or being generally shitty to women. Literally no one has time for meninism #notsorry

          • nupark

            If you interpret the world through a hypertrophied sense of fear, then yes, you can fit everything to your oppressed class narrative.

          • Court

            Actually it would be interpreting the world through statistics and probability. It’s not *only* a narrative when 1/6 girls on s college campus are assaulted. But sure, the emotional labor should definitely fall on women to think it’s normal to be stalked. Suspend disbelief for the nice stalkers! Live in whatever world you gotta.

          • nupark

            1/6 girls on college campus are not assaulted — and it’s odd how this number, when cited, always seems to vary randomly between 1 in 3 and 1 in 6.

            The studies used to produce the “1 in X” numbers on college assault were subject to fatal methodology flaws, from extreme selection bias (self-selection of participants reached via mass e-mail, selection of participants at only a few universities), to extreme interpretation bias (classifying events as assault when participants themselves and objective review would not and did not).

            They were meant to produce scary numbers in support of gender academia’s theory of oppression, not to actually inform. From your use of gender theory-derived terms like “emotional labor”, you seem to be a firmly a part of the camp that’s pushing this extremely farcical view of gender relations and a vastly overstated sense of risk that — clearly evidenced by our dialog — negatively impacts women.

          • Lilace Mellin Guignard

            Easy for you to say. Which you demonstrate very well.

          • bilabus123

            Wow, you’re a savage.

          • Court

            Lollll cool cool cool. Thank god i have you to clarify that “I’m not interested” followed by the classic female lie “I have a boyfriend” actually aren’t adequate ways of telling someone no. Especially after saying the word “no [you can’t have my number]” as well. You’ve opened my eyes to the possibility that the man leaning on my car waiting for me was actually just in a “public” space and therefore could do no wrong. Truly, you’ve revolutionized the way I see the world. Next time I’ll invite him into my house and give him my bank account numbers because it’s super mean to assume that he’s not a nice guy. Not all guys! Amirite?

          • bilabus123

            Madam, you’re hysterical. And by that, I don’t mean you’re funny. I’m not your boyfriend, or your father, or your husband, or your therapist, so I’m under no obligation whatsoever to believe the crazy lies you invent to push your pernicious world-view.

          • Court

            Whatever emotional energy I was spending on this thread entirely isn’t worth it. For one because I believe the anonymity of the internet allows us to be horrible to one another without every feeling recompense. If I came to you in person and described what happened and you saw the look of fear on my face, I don’t doubt that you would be kind to me because most humans aren’t as terrible as they are online. I’m incredibly disappointed in the ways that people on this thread have flocked to the occasion of telling women their experiences are all in their heads, that it’s impossible for women to feel dismissed (…lol) or treated disrespectfully because of their gender — even when history tells us otherwise. But that is the Internet. And truly it’s my fault for hoping people engage in dialogue and not combat in these types of spaces. It’s additionally not my responsibility to have to engage with gaslighting in any shape or form. 🖖🏼 Godspeed, dude. Here’s to hoping you’re at least 20% better than your online persona.

          • April Goldman-Sims


            Being followed to your car IS scary. Do NOT listen to these people who say you should ignore your instincts and “be cool” with a man who makes you feel unsafe. You are right that sexual assault is real – 1 in 5 women in America will be raped in their lifetime. Stay safe, and ignore the trolls.

            In solidarity –

          • nupark

            No, 1 in 5 American women will not be raped in their lifetime. If you laughed at people who believed in “Obama’s Death Panels”, you might also want to look into where you get your own “facts” from.

          • bilabus123

            “You are right that sexual assault is real – 1 in 5 women in America will be raped in their lifetime.”

            Not only is this total BS, somehow it always manages to sound like a threat. You must be planning to get up very early in the morning.

          • River Mud

            As a 200lb physically capable dude living in a big city, I still never EVER want randos showing up near my car. It’s how people get robbed, shot, carjacked etc. where I live. And of course we have massive gun control, so normal people aren’t strapped…just the bad guys. Let’s put the word “scared” aside. It is normal in many situations when someone you don’t know shows up at your vehicle to feel nervous/alarmed/on edge. It is not some kind of hyperfeminism, which, if it were, I would poo poo it as well.

          • bilabus123

            The funny thing is, I’m not even being bad to you. I’m simply subjecting the utterly ridiculous things you say to the same level of credibility and scrutiny as any completely made-up thing you’re likely to encounter if you spend even a few minutes on the internet.

            I said “Hey, maybe instead of defaulting to fear, maybe examine the sources of your fear and check whether they’re data-driven or based on prejudice and preconception” and you shot back in my face some drivel about menininism or whatever online ghoul it is you’re busy building straw effigies of. You clearly wanted a tone reset, so all I did was play along.

            I never wanted any “emotional energy” out of you, just a nanosecond of sense, and I left empty-handed. You’ve done nothing but reference voodoo statistics that make absolutely untenable claims, and flick slurs at my forehead. You even end with a concern troll about me being “better” than you feel my treatment of you has been.

            Really the amazing part is that you’re able to continue to labor under the misconception that you’re the good one here.

          • katies

            I am just one person and I have experienced the following: 1. A random man exposing and pleasuring himself while sitting directly across from me (within 6 ft) in a sitting area of a public university library, 2. A random man who physically chased me down the street after telling me “you have a sweet ass. I’d like to cream in that ass”, and 3. A peeping tom that was pleasuring himself while staring into the window of my apartment. Of these 3 instances the only one I reported was the peeping tom (as I called the police). The reason I say this is because the data provided by statistics skews in both directions. Statistics are only made up of cases that are reported. The reality of the situation is that there are many cases that aren’t reported. Regardless of that, if the statistic is 1 in 5 or 1 in 6 or even 1 in 100, isn’t that still too much? Do you want to walk down the street and tell every 100th woman you see that she’s going to be sexually assaulted and that’s ok because it’s just 1% of the population instead of 15-20%? I’m not hysterical and I don’t let this stuff run my life. I also count myself lucky because I didn’t experience any physical harm in any of these situations, but that’s not always the case. Admittedly this also has nothing to do with climbing or the original article. I am posting here because I found your commentary a little callous, and I guess I hope that some more extreme examples of the kinds of blatant inappropriate sexual behaviors people experience might challenge your thinking on the subject.

          • bilabus123

            I have had many bad experiences as well, courtesy various ill-behaved women. I have experienced physical harm. Thing is, I don’t rely on any of that to make society-ranging inferences about the behavior of women. I was in specific places, specific things happened, and while they were unpleasant, they were my own personal baggage.

            I am posting in response to you because you are being utterly typical. You’ve been conditioned to think that you’re special, that you’re protected, that you hurt more than others do, that you feel more than others do, that things that happen in your life have some kind of meaning beyond “Hey, this is a thing that happened.”

            You’re completely wrong. It’s just stuff. It’s what you do with that stuff that matters. And as I said previously, if you use your stuff to try and build structures that oppress, that are chauvanistic, that spread unwarranted fear, that infantilize people, that tell people to be weak, don’t worry we’ll implement a system that will prevent all the bad things (meanwhile somehow mysteriously the people in charge of such things get richer and richer), then you are not on the side of anything good. You’re an agent for bad.

            And that’s what you are, an agent for bad. Bad for women, bad for men, because you couldn’t accept your own agency in a world that’s not necessarily catered specifically to your comfort.

          • Lilace Mellin Guignard

            Thank you for trying, though. Seriously. You kept your shit together really well considering the conversation.

        • Scott

          Are you serious? A man harassed her to the point he would not get away from her when asked to, and you say the problem is all in her head? Which would make her responsible rather than he, talk about victim-blaming.
          I’m a man, and I think there is something seriously wrong with the majority of the comments here. Very disappointed with the climbing community today.

          • nupark

            You read an awful lot into a narrative that was lacking the details you’re presenting, and you’re totally discounting how an outlook like hers — informed by gender studies’ fear mongering — colors _every_ interaction.

            I’m proud of the climbing community for resisting this deleterious ideologically-driven nonsense.

          • River Mud

            Let’s back the stats way off then, and assume that “only” 1 in 10 women are assaulted. That’s still a shitload of assaulted women. Most women I dated were assaulted or aggressively stalked (ie breaking in). Some of the dudes went to prison, others were expelled. 10? 12? women in a small circle. In the cases I know from my world, these are real things for women to be afraid of. And yes, I do know of ONE case of false accusation (accuser recanted a few weeks later…was underage (17) and caught by parents…the male was 18). It was unacceptable but it’s pretty rare. Like 1% rare.

          • nupark

            Anecdotes aren’t evidence. Your experiences have an in-built selection bias, are not adequate for making policy or assessing risk, and certainly do not present the case you believe them to.

            Also, the number is nowhere near even 1/10. Compared to other forms of violence, there is not a uniquely prevalent epidemic of violence against women.

          • Valdemar Wegge


          • FDS


        • Melise

          This reply does not take into account what is at risk: if a woman gets followed, she can assume the intention is harmless or potentially harmfully. What does she lose if she thinks it’s harmful? Nothing. What does she lose if she thinks the situation is harmless and lets her guard down? Her safety and well being. There is no ambiguous history about violence against women. There is no ambiguous history about women and sexual assault and harassment.

          • bilabus123

            Plop that on an actuarial table, and see if that sort of hysterical behavior is warranted. (Hint: it’s not).

            Context is important. Put that woman in a Wal-mart parking lot in the middle of the day, and the chance of him following her versus her over-active imagination bends in the direction of “lady, you need to chill.” Put her in a parking lot in downtown Philly at 2 in the morning, and the odds have changed. Risk isn’t based on an aggregation of anecdotes, or even in probable statistics; risk is a function of *tangible reality, and your capacity to handle it.*

            Of course the “history about women and etc.” is ambiguous, which is obvious because you’re implying that it’s unambiguously dangerous for women–despite the United States being inarguably the safest place, safest society, safest civilization, safest collection of communities, for women, in the history of human beings. Yes, bad outcomes happen. But for any given woman who’s using the smallest amount of contextual awareness and self-preservation instinct, it’s not likely.

      • InBeforeTheLock

        I would agree that the guy you mentioned was out of line, no matter what his intention was. However, as you said, this is an extreme example, and has no real bearing on the point of this article, which related to more innocuous behaviour that gets overanalysed. It’s not healthy to see ill intent in everything.

        Your other response seemed rather condescending and pointless though. Hashtags, really?

        • Court

          It actually is completely relevant. Climbing isn’t a magical world separate from the realities of social, political and economic patterns in the world. Look, I love my climbing community and honestly feel super happy at my local crag and gym. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t the occasional supercreep. Even supercreeps like climbing because climbing is awesome. There isn’t like a test at the door “Hey are you gonna be cool??” People are just people, and sometimes they’re gonna make women feel uncomfortable. Not necessarily because they always feel unsafe. But because they may be douchey in other ways. The main issue is that 65% of women identified a problem. Not one or two. And still their experiences are being blamed on themselves. No one is blaming climbing, but it’s super weird to pretend like climbers can’t also be creeps. I don’t understand why there is such disbelief here??

          • River Mud

            I don’t understand why this is controversial.

          • bilabus123

            Because it’s a pile of prosecutorial lies and meretricious fears that feed into a larger, chauvinistic agenda. This garbage robs women of agency and is casually nasty to men. There are most likely real issues under all the hypertrophied rhetoric and fearmongering, inaccurate statistics. But real, beneficial, potentially corrective conversation about such things can’t happen in the middle of a hysteria, or while one party is hurling slurs and justifying it with fake data.

          • Lilace Mellin Guignard

            I do not feel robbed of agency by their comments at all. FYI.

          • bilabus123

            How you feel about it doesn’t change what it is. It’s a pernicious world-view in which you are acted upon, you are relentlessly victimized, and you have no control nor responsibility for your place in the world.

          • Lilace Mellin Guignard

            Thanks for mansplaining it all. I understood your comments. I find your reaction and others to be exactly the opposite of so-called complaint feminism. Complaint mens rightism? “All feminists are victimizing men by acting like victims.” There is a pernicious whirlpool to the reductive views on both sides. We need to be talking together, helping those who feel threatened experience situations where they can feel empowered and let down their guard some and feel supported by men and women. Climbing indoors and out can be a great way to do that, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a place free of sexism.

          • bilabus123

            “Mansplaining.” Aaaaand, we’re done. Good luck “talking together” if, when someone who happens to have a different genital and chromosomal configuration than you speaks, you dismiss them with sexist insults. High road, that.

        • April Goldman-Sims

          It’s not an extreme example. Most women have experiences like this.

          • nupark

            No, most women who have converted to the religious ideology of gender studies have reexamined their experiences and mentally framed them like this.

          • Lilace Mellin Guignard

            OMG this is such a BS answer. Where’s your evidence for this? It suits your narrative, which is what you are accusing other of doing.

          • nupark

            Try searching Google Scholar. This is a well-studied area.

          • >> It’s not an extreme example. Most women have experiences like this.

            April, I think you’re right. Most women have had experiences like this… and, most women’s experiences are NOT like this. Right?

            I’m not saying it’s not scary (sometimes) and uncomfortable (probably much more often than actually scary)… but the culture is reframing “discomfort” as fear and “rape culture.” And it’s divisive.

            As a man that likes to dance, I’ve had many “creepy” experiences with women on the dancefloor (them being creeps… mostly because they are not good at communicating what they want), and all of them where uncomfortable… but that doesn’t make me a victim.

            I’m not a victim, I’m a dancer! And the author isn’t a victim either, she’s a climber.

            What a difference that is.

            This isn’t about actual victims of violence… it’s about reframing everyday events as violence and abuse, and then looking for the “criminal” that caused those crimes.. And it’s nonsense.

  • jonathan__c

    Well, there’s two sides to this story.

    On one hand, there are so many awesome, inspiring videos on Youtube and beyond now of some of the strongest women on the planet doing absolutely amazing things. Protagonists in these incredible stories of accomplishment and human spirit, all while with their partners in life humbly supporting them from below.

    Like Caroline Ciavaldini crushing the testpiece “Voie Petite”, first with Arnaud Petite and then with her husband James Pearson – both world renowned climbers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqUpxCco3PA

    Or Nina Caprez sending Orbayu with her partner Cédric Lachat https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7QeAx8mn9A

    Or the impressive ascent of Golden Gate by Emily Harrington with the unwavering support of her partner (who is an accomplished alpinist, and doesn’t even get his name in the credits) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccPYyF-plQY

    Or the absolute favorite of my partner and me… Babsi Zangerl climbing the mind blowing Bellavista with the support and love of her partner Jacopo Larcher https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LceKIFARnbY

    Or the many others like Brette Harrington’s feature in the recent Real Rock in which her uber-accomplished male partner Marc-Andre takes a back seat https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ju3cJbQHgEs

    Clearly, there’s no shortage of women who not only are at the top of their game, but are showcasing their boldness, unashamed to the world. How is this not inspiring to men and women alike? How are women feeling oppressed when this kind of stuff exists?

    This brings me to the other side of the coin. If you start to look at the bottom end of climbing – your local climbing gym, your local beginner crag, your local bar – you end up with a very different, and very sad picture. Men acting like macho assholes, using the climbing gym as little more than a way to pick up women (i’ve seen it so many times it’s kinda horrifying). Meanwhile women in these cases end up as targets for these kinds of men. But lets be honest, this is not representative of the climbing community, but rather a reflection of the current state of society as a whole…. a bunch of insecure human beings more often than not succumbing to their “lizard brain” natural instincts. For men, this is primarily the ego resulting from (far to often) our sex drives. For women, it is the ego resulting from that core need for acceptance and love and appearing “good enough”.

    This isn’t a climbing problem. If anything, climbing is the solution. It is the medium that brings us all down to the same level. You, me, rock, fear, willpower, drive, motivation, empathy, passion, exhilaration… Ego and petty bullshit tend to disappear pretty quickly once men and women alike start to leave the climbing gym, and go after those bigger goals.

    There is no feminism, maninism, anyoneism in climbing when you are out on the wall. All that is left is the incredible human spirit.

  • Daniel Brayack

    I treat my female climbing friends the same way I treat my male climbing friends and I think they appreciate it. “Sack it up and try harder” etc etc. It drives me crazy when adults talk down to kids and likewise to women.

    • Abigail Barronian

      I’m pretty on board with this article, but I wanted to point something out here– the phrase “sack it up and try harder” is inherently sexist, associating being tough/brave/strong with testicles. Implying the alternative–weakness–is akin to being without testicles, or feminine. Just food for thought. Sexism/misogyny/a general writing-off of women and their abilities all run deep in our culture, including in the phrases we toss around without thinking.

      Not trying to tell you not to use the phrase, of course it’s just a jokey way to encourage and kid your friends. But think hard about the ways you might perpetuate those social norms that feminism tries to fight.

      Climb on!

      • Lucas Castro

        In fact the problem she addresses in the text is this: Things that would just be annoyances or normal problems, are transformed into sexism because someone misinterprets things.

        The phrase from our friend up there “Sack it up and try harder” is not sexist, have you seen an ox with and without testicles? Or a horse with and without testicles? They change behavior and become more docile and fragile.

        But this is because we have changed its natural state by taking a piece of it

        That’s where the phrase comes from!

        Keep Climb…

        • Court

          Are you seriously suggesting that women, like oxen and horses, are more docile and fragile??

        • Abigail Barronian

          Can you explain why an “annoyance” or a “normal problem” isn’t worth addressing? What is a “normal problem” and why is it any less worthy of solving than an “abnormal problem”?

          • Tashtego

            I don’t think he said normal problems are not worth addressing. I think he meant that you have every right to be annoyed at someone telling you to “sack up and try harder”. This doesn’t necessarily imply that there was sexist intent behind the comment, or that the comment itself necessarily perpetuates sexist social norms.

          • Lucas Castro

            Yes, I can explain. When a man shouts a beta that I did not ask for, I tell him I do not want to.

            And when a woman does the same thing, I answer the same thing.

            Without distinction of gender, I approach the problem itself, and I do not create another problem.

        • Scott

          I sometimes tell my wife to “ovary up!” She digs it and gets busy.

          • Lilace Mellin Guignard

            Yes, playing with language brings awareness and fun. We used to call high would problems Highballs and then the guys realized what it meant and on their own started calling them high vaginas. It was funny, silly, and we used both terms from then on. Context and company are everything.

      • eirik

        “the phrase “sack it up and try harder” is inherently sexist, associating being tough/brave/strong with testicles. ”

        No it’s not sexist, this is the annoyance-feminism the article refers to. Just because something is gender-specific doesn’t mean it’s sexist.

        Testicles produce testosterone. “Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and an anabolic steroid. In men, testosterone plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as the testis and prostate, as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle and bone mass, and the growth of body hair.” (wiki)
        So, a “sack” is factually a source of strength and muscles, and the prime reason men are aprox. about 1/3 stronger than women.
        This is not sexist. If you want to know sexist, visit any country outside the developed west. Literally ANY country.

        • pika

          can’t help myself but think of a dude getting kicked in the nuts. yeah, so very tough and strong. tihihihi… #fragilemasculinityisfragile

          • nupark

            The lady doth protest too much; sexist gendered insults — such as the use of “fragile masculinity” prevalent in complaint-feminism circles — are primarily an expression of the speaker’s own insecurities, and — ironically, given your intent — viewed as such by your targets.

          • River Mud

            ha, I was wondering if someone would bring that up.

      • Greg

        I think Daniel meant to say suck it up as encouragement. I have never heard anyone say “sack it up” referring to testicles. Once again, every word is literally picked apart in these feminist stories and meanings often broken down into sexism. I will let the climbing do the talking.

      • Barzini

        The link between testicles and strength and courage is a scientific fact……

        They play a key role in the production and regulation of testosterone

  • Andrew Forsyth

    Thank you for your thoughtful insights on this issue! I really identified with your report that men (especially cis white men like me) don’t feel comfortable engaging with these issues for fear of seeming intolerant. It really helped me to hear you struggle through these difficult concepts.

    The point that we can’t generalize statements about ALL men or ALL women also resonated with me. We are all individuals with the capacity to do good and bad things. For me, relating to the individuality of each person in my life is what ultimately helped me see women as equals (and made me realize that I didn’t see them as equals before).

    Again, thank you for your awesome perspective

  • MosesZD

    Welcome to the future burned bridges and dying communities of the Skeptic Community, the Science Fiction Community, the Video Gaming Community and many other communities in which I, r my friends, participate freely with any woman who wants to be there.

    Next on the agenda is a concerned effort to brand you all as ‘ableists,’ ageists, misogynists and/or racists who use their ‘white/male/wealthy’ or whatever ‘privilege’ to hold others down.

    You’ll be thinking “nobody I know does that’ and that you’re in an inclusive environment where the only things that matter are competency and the ability to be a good team player. But it won’t matter. Because people who don’t give two ****s for your hobby aren’t interested in those things, but only the imaginary injustices you may be committing as there aren’t enough of the favored victim class of the week in power/participating/etc.

    Do yourself a favor, don’t ever compromise with them. You can’t make them happy. Ever. And they really aren’t interested in your hobby any way.

    Just look at Marvell Comics and see what’s happened to theic comic sales ever since they started pandering to the SJW crowd — lost their regular customers who aren’t interested in being constantly insulted. Meanwhile the complainers.. Well, they don’t buy comics.

    • Beestingza

      They are coming for all of us. The seeds of cultural Marxism were planted in our culture years ago, and they are in full bloom now…

      • Jim

        How do you define “Cultural Marxism”?

  • April Goldman-Sims

    The premise seems to be that when women who have been harassed – verbally or physically – should show “grit” which means be silent. The writer’s message to women who do come forward? They must be lying, or exaggerating – and if they aren’t, well, “Life is meant to be uncomfortable.” That’s not a human response to pain. That is the response of a psychopath.

    It doesn’t surprise me to see Evening Sends run an article like this – this is hardly the first time Andrew has published something demeaning to women. I’m sure it won’t be the last.

    • Suddenlysusan23

      You aren’t an intelligent person.
      At all.

    • Beestingza

      You are projecting. She said nothing of the sort. What she said was not to project your (possible) insecurity onto otherwise benign situations/people. Perhaps you haven’t figured this out yet but we don’t see things the way they are but the way we are.

    • InBeforeTheLock

      If you consider this article demeaning to women, you are part of the problem and a prime example of a “complaint-feminist”. There is nothing to be gained by being oversensitive and seeing everything in a negative light.

    • Tessa Jones

      How can you say it is demeaning to woman when a woman wrote it with the support of many other woman. Sounds like you personally take offense to it, and I personally take offense to articles that promote feminism in climbing groupies. Would you want to live in a society that only published things that you agreed with, even if a large proportion of the population didn’t agree? That does not sound like the kid of community I want to live in. You are entitled to your experiences and opinions, but that should never be at the expense of telling someone they are not entitled to share theirs.

      • April Goldman-Sims

        There’s a difference between saying “This is demeaning to women” and “I just didn’t like it.” They are not the same thing. You and I do not hold mirrored opinions. You just don’t like it when women report sexism. Apparently it makes you uncomfortable. On the other hand, I find this writer’s attitude (and yours) demeaning and dangerous. It doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable; it makes me feel physically unsafe. This writer says quite literally that women should silently tolerate “errant” touches from men and that “being uncomfortable is a part of life.” Did you know that 1 in 5 women in America will be raped in their lifetime? Do you really think the problem in America is that women are just not cool enough with unwanted touches?

        Individual women can say and do things that will hurt other women and themselves. History abounds with examples. The anti-suffragism movement included both men and women. Do you think the women who campaigned *against* women’s right to vote were not demeaning women just because they themselves were women?

        I think you and this writer are terribly misguided, and I hope you have the opportunity to speak with more women who can help explain to you why these issues are so important. Saying that feminism has “gone too far” is just ignorant and sad.

        • Tessa Jones

          Simply because I don’t agree with you does not imply that I don’t understand your position. You misunderstand the article if you walked away with the interpretation that you should remain silent when you personally feel oppressed or assaulted you absolutely should as one individual to another if someone offends you, stand up for yourself. The implication you make is that you need and expect others to stand up for you, you are completely entitled to that need. I simply don’t want your personal needs to be projected as my needs as a woman. You don’t get to speak for all woman, just as I dont. I feel like it is very damaging to suggest that your experience should drive the movement and that all other opinions should be silenced.

          • Tessa Jones

            I want to add that I absolutely believe that feminism exists in this world, I just don’t agree with the way it is being contorted into the climbing world. The “oppressions” that some people speak about in the climbing environment are simply just not comparable to deliberate pay differences, voting rights, genital deformation, etc. In fact to suggest that they are simply minimizes the importance of true feminine oppression.

          • Augusta Ada Byron

            Agreed Tessa.

            Modern feminism has degraded to the point that the slightest verbal offense is akin to being a kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirl.

        • Augusta Ada Byron

          Reading an article you disagree with in the safety of your own home makes you “feel physically unsafe”?


          And that “1 in 5 women in America will be raped in their lifetime” statistic has been debunked many times, but people believe what they want to believe. It is called “confirmation bias”.

          FYI: As soon as that vague “history” is used to justify an opinion, some ridiculous nonsense inevitably follows.

        • Barzini

          You believe that 1-in-5 women in the US are raped – you are insane and need help

    • Hi April. It was nice to talk to you on the phone, and I appreciated hearing your valid points about why you disagree with this article. I find it deeply upsetting to be personally attacked, however. I don’t think I’m the face of sexism in our sport, and I appreciated your comment on the phone that you also don’t think I’m sexist. Thank your for saying that. All I did here was provide a woman with a forum for voicing her opinion about a topic in the climbing world. I think we can all agree that we need to increase the female voice and perspective in climbing as much as we can–even if we don’t agree with everything that’s said. I hope we get to meet up at a climbing area some day. Much respect. Andrew

      • April Goldman-Sims

        Andrew, on the phone I made it clear that while I’m sure you do not personally want to see an increase in violence toward women, you’ve published something that could have that result. I believe this article, regardless of your personal beliefs, is demeaning and that you have published other articles that treat women as less-than. I agree that raising women’s voices is important, but I do not agree that every opinion under the sun, if held by a woman, is valid and important. Freedom of speech is a freedom from imprisonment law; it’s not a principle that says all opinions no matter how hurtful or damaging must have equal air time. I hope you will stop publishing articles of this nature. Again, as I said on the phone, I do not think you are sitting home conspiring on ways to hurt women and I realize you want to do the right thing. I strongly believe the right thing is not to publish articles like this.


        • Thanks April. I hear and acknowledge your critiques. And of course I’m against any violence against women or any catalysts toward that violence. I can only imagine that Davita feels the same way. Personally I disagree that this opinion piece about climbing will result in justifications for violence against women. And I disapprove and reject any of the disturbing comments on this post that believe otherwise

  • Beestingza

    Brilliantly and perceptively written. I wish I had this kind of psychological insight when I was your age. Would have saved me years of suffering. I hope that this letter finds the many women and men out there that are confusing emotional regulation issues and projecting them on benign people and situations(it seems the entire SJW culture is infested with these confused people, sadly). Thank you!

  • Court

    When 65% of a group of people say they have felt uncomfortable, it’s so remarkably arrogant to assume they all must be the problem, and not something broader. Climbing isn’t a magical world separate from history, culture and economics — the very real experiences women have with patriarchy are always present. When women feel uncomfortable voicing their fears or emotions it’s because there is a long history of women being told they’re too emotional, and consistently undermined. Simply because you’ve decided you don’t personally feel this way, while critiquing out of context anecdotes (unfairly, might I add), doesn’t mean these problems don’t actually affect women.

  • Neptunium

    Pick pretty much any hobby and interest you can find on the internet and you have the exact same article written by a feminist about it.

    • April Goldman-Sims

      That’s because sexism exists everywhere.

      • Neptunium

        No. It’s because feminists want control of every sphere of interest they think is male dominated. Never seem to have issues with female dominated interests funnily enough.. Always a one way street.

        • Valdemar Wegge

          Well you realise that you are wrong. Child nusering for exampel is dominated by women who offent have the sense to see that a variated personel can be positive so the children learn to be around men as well as women.

          • bilabus123

            Total fiction.

          • Valdemar Wegge

            What is fiction? Political rhethorics are not fiction. And again telling me that my ideas and believes are fiction does not open up for debate, you are simply trying to shut me up… please tell me what part of my comment is fiction and or stop posting easy slants like that!

          • bilabus123

            No, I am not trying to “shut you up,” as that is impossible in this format, I am pointing out that there’s no reason on Earth to believe that the things you’ve claimed are true, and as a man who has raised 4 children, your claims are counter-indicated by my personal experience. So source that stuff or stuff it in the bin where it belongs.

          • Valdemar Wegge

            Dear Bilabus123. I now realise that what you wrote is to a different comment than I first thought… I have written a few in here by now 😉

            You say that it is fictional that there are more women taking care of children than there are men because you have raised 4 children? I bet you statistics will show differently… What is it? About 86-87% female teachers in US of A? I am not from USA, but sometimes statistics can do more than personal experience: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.PRM.TCHR.FE.ZS?end=2014&locations=US&start=2014&view=map
            Also I believe that the there is a higher percentage of women working as preschool teachers, that is with the smaller children right?
            Also I have been working with children down to 7 month old and up to 6 years old for a few years now and it is fairly common for some children maybe especially smaller girls to have at hard time around adult males, that is males which they do not know as they do their father. So no matter how good a father you are I was not refering to parenting, but employees in what you call preschool I believe…(?) we call it kindergarten or directly translated “cradle-caring”(something like that) 😉

            Do you in the USA have a pre-preschool or some sort of arrangement for smaller children? How young can children be in your preschools?

          • bilabus123

            Different argument: It’s an inarguable, statistical fact that women are still present in the vast preponderance of child care, child raising, child care services, and early education. What I was objecting to is your idea that men are valued, wanted, or welcomed by women to share in these spheres. It’s a problem–I could throw thinkpieces and op-eds at you all day, that align with my experience that men are specifically de- and under-valued in this function, but as a reason to ‘enact this labor’ as the kids say, I’d like to know if you have any sources or data to back up the idea that women in these fields want men or more men there too in any fashion.

            To your question, I can only speak to my region, but we have a surfeit of schools, and the age requirement depends entirely on the school/care. You can find an organization that’ll take 1-year-olds in diapers for early care/education. Typically though, people start with pre-Kindergarten around age 4 or slightly younger, and public education or equivalent home-schooling is required with Kindergarten at age 5.

  • Erin Monahan

    This articles confuses “complaint feminism” with something that has already been around for a long time…it’s called “gaslighting.” Bitch Magazine and Bustle can help you all understand what this term means.

    • Matthew

      Sure, given how often both of them practice gas lighting, there writers are all experts at the practice.

  • Remi

    Climbing is one of the most progressive sports out there because of the importance of strength to weight ratio and because of its revolutionary spirit. I love seeing articles like this just as much as I love seeing women kicking ass at the crag. Thanks for taking the deep dive. Sadly as a guy I don’t feel it would be effective for me to share it, I know many would find that moralistic or self serving or whatever.

    • Valdemar Wegge

      Deep dive into the shadows of sexism right above! are you anti-feminist/sexist? sinse you have a
      problem with women who speak their mind when in trouble or when they feal opressed, I think you should share just how ignorant you are… please. hopefully you have some strong feminist friends who can crack some sense into you skull down at the crag when they find that out! Not to be taken in a violent way, sinse I oppositioning you believe that women and their struggle matter.

  • TruthTalker9

    Great article, one thing I love about climbing is how inclusive it is.

  • meh

    Well it is nice to get a different point of view for a change.

    As someone who stands probably in the middle of the views of this piece and the echo chamber that is Georgie’s Facebook, it’s all rather discouraging. I say that because I think the people writing these pieces aren’t that far apart in terms of their politics and beliefs, but you would not know that from reading these. It’s all black and white, you’re either with us or against us, feminist or misogynist.

    Both ‘sides’ here bludgeon each other with terms like gaslighting and complaint feminism. If you disagree with my opinion, you’re gaslighting me. If someone micro egresses against me with unsolicited beta (the horror) and I don’t like it, it is complaint feminism.

    Both sides use shaky or non-existent factual support to build arguments and then declare total victory. This sort of thing really just chills debate in my opinion. There is a reason Georgie’s Facebook is an echo chamber— she says she wants to talk about it but if you’re a man and differ in any way you’ll get chewed apart by her and her nineteen followers. No thank you.

    Lots of divisive rhetoric. Lots of name calling. Mischaracterization of opposing views. Almost zero debate and discussion. What is the discussion about? Babe? Unsolicited beta? Feeling uncomfortable at the gym? Uncomfortable. That’s not vague at all.

    So much angst over minor slights to distract us from serious issues. I could go on, but it would be largely futile so I’ll end here. I’ll be marching on Saturday, I hope you will too.

    • calder

      Well said.

  • patsy

    Great Read

    Thank You.

    “Complaint Feminism” = First World Problem

    Some women & men want to run around topless (the “Free the Nipple” crowd).

    Others are offend if you look at their nipples.

    Some people feel sexually harassed if an ugly person makes a pass at them but flattered if a hotty does.

    Some people like burqas. Others don’t.

    Personally, I’d hate to live in a world where the fear of offending others guides everyone’s actions and words. I like diversity and I am not for compliance with some unattainable ‘norm’ (driven by fear) to guide interactions between the sexes .

  • marion_saylor

    Women at times can do more harm progressing women’s rights than men. The claims of which type of feminism is correct and who is doing it right or wrong are counter to the purpose of feminism. It is an issue when we seek categorization and definitions, or rather ownership of Feminism. It purports a binary of right or wrong and advocates an us vs. them argument. This article should be commended for the author’s ability to challenge what has been discussed and present another context of women and climbing. The blogs she critiques are to be commended as well for the work they do. There is no one size fits all in feminism. That is the point of intersectionality – it contends with differences and notes that there are various forms of oppression women face and many at the same time (hence the intersection analogy). Concurrently, countering oppression and powerlessness is contextual. Supporting women’s rights is not solely in the realm of discourse (writing, media, publications, etc.) but also in actions, relationships, conversations (both online and in real life), and in the spaces women experience and confront oppressive actions (the climbing gym, work place, online forums, the bedroom, public spaces, and so on). Stating that women do not experience harassment or belittling is inaccurate, as is stating that all women do experience such conditions. This author is pointing how the climbing community counters oppression and fosters inclusion. She does so in the same manner as those who point out conditions of oppression in the climbing community. This article takes a positive stance casting a future vision of what is possible. Allowing this type of discourse supports the purpose of the blogs the author critiques. Both forums of discourse are necessary; fighting about who is right and who is wrong backpedals. Allowing a more fluid form of intersectionality, one that blends discourse with place (the spaces and environments of the world in which people enact their lives, as noted above) may allow contexts to been seen more clearly – and when a positive casting is beneficial or when a challenge may be necessary. Personally, I have been in both ends of the experiences of climbing – talked down, belittled, mansplained. Friends of mine have been assaulted in the spaces of climbing. This is not right, challenge and overturning such power is necessary. I have also been in the space of inclusion, camaraderie, friendship, growth, development, and inspiration with men. Like the author, I met my husband in the context of climbing. Men and women alike are needed to reconfigure the complexities and dominance of patriarchy in various contexts. However, this must allow for various contexts of discourse as it relates to experiences and places. Perhaps we should seek to reconfigure, not critique. But I will say, reconfigure that title! I understand it is often out of the author’s hands in regards to the title since clickbait is essential on the internet these days. But that is hostile up front and has readers eager to argue immediately. I certainly don’t agree with Sommers on all points but she must be brought into the conversation, uncomfortable as that may be.

  • Yuriko

    Justifying inappropriate touching while spotting by saying it doesn’t happen to everyone therefore it is not a problem?

    • Valdemar Wegge

      It makes no sense.

  • pika

    Hey Davita,
    how does the saying go? If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas?
    Welp, I’d say those comment fleas say a whole lot about your article/rant dog…

  • Augusta Ada Byron

    Men are not stronger in SOME respects than women..they are stronger in EVERY respect than women because….wait for it…testosterone builds muscle much better than does estrogen.

    Why is this even debated? As a woman, I have no problem with the reality of this, but then I like being a woman AND I like men AND I don’t believe that gender is just a social construct.

    Best of all, because I am female, I have much more flexible hips than any male anywhere and can easily splay my legs and flatten my lower body to hug a wall with no effort at all.

    Ignore the male-haters and think positive…these types of women are a surefire cure for the overpopulation problem!

  • Valdemar Wegge

    Wish I could write a long comment, about how wrong you are, but it is hard on a phone. So I’m gonna keep it short and focused on one part. Do you realise how dangerous and downright imorral it is to use a term such as ‘complaint feminism’? I do not mean to call you stubit cause you sertainly build up a well written article and I hope you are open for critisicm. Using the term ‘complaint feminism’ is imorral since it is a political tool to slant around as a slogan(I believe it is called a discourse in english). Such terms make it easyer to make a complaint and using such a term in a discussion does not open up for conversation or discussion, but rather quickly shuts your “opponent”/discussion partner. You are basically partisipating in creating a term that maked complaining women look whimsy and weak, which women are not! You say you want the important feministic fights to thrive, yet feminism is not something only appearing in job interviews or in how many governors or senators are women. No, feminism is the idea of equality in between genders and sexualorrientation, that be it in between individuals or in politics. I sense (u may tell me if I’m wrong) that you in a way agree. You are hardent though that the discussion has the wrong focus, then voice that, but without easy slants like ‘complaint feminism’! That is only gonna harm well everyone, since it is counterproductive to the course of equality rights in general! You make complaining women and feminists in general seem weak, be it in the climbing community or in general. Now look! My post got rather long anyway! I’m gonna end it by saying that you in general have missed the point of feminism since you are mearly focussed on your own problems… consider the problems you might have started by teaching alot of crazy men and women the term ‘complaining feminist’ it is actually quite horrible and oppressing! Just another
    Feminst wishing for the miracle of you realising your mistakes and maybe trying to make up for them. Also I am very supprised how crazy people in this comment thread are!

    • Valdemar Wegge

      I am gonna stop my self there, sinse basically everything your writing is suppressing I can not say that it is “Well writen” actually it is just very very imorral and ignorant.

    • Saida Makhmudzade

      i hate how much credit I give you for being a guy with this opinion. I should not be any more thankful that you think this way than a women saying/writing these things. Damn it! This shows how effed up society still is when I take it as extraordinary that a man has these highly “progressive” views. Then I see you’re Danish…guess we need more of that in the U.S. I can say that most of my male friends in America agree with this, but obviously I’m not going to be friends with sexist guys. Do you think that you are very “left” for Danish standards? Or is this thinking accepted even by the “center” [political] party?

      • Valdemar Wegge

        I am at work so it will not be a long answer. Do not hate youself, you have probably been experiencing the systematic faillings of the medias to introduce men as rough, unthink and insensitive brutes, hehe! You seem critical enough, but remember that sexist guys are also a symptom of the real problem, trying to realise the root of the problem goes a long way to understanding and thereby being able to critisize not the individual, but the system. I think I might be represented fairly by our most leftist party ‘Enhedslisten’. But in general I think Denmark is relatively more progressive, at least when it comes to media coverage, than the US. 🤜 Keep on fighting! And asking if you have any other questions!

        • Saida Makhmudzade

          my response came across wrong, then…i’m very much aware of systemic oppression. it was more meant like a, you, valdemar, and your viewpoints should not be an anomaly but rather the norm. it’s a shame they’re not. feminism needs men and men need feminism, so it’s always uplifting to see that they exist.

          • Valdemar Wegge

            I was probably in a tired State so I understood the wrong thing in your text in a wrong way, sorry!

          • Valdemar Wegge

            And yeah, I completely agree!

  • Barzini

    If you put a bunch of young physically healthy men and women together in an environment where there is touching and revealing of flesh there will be sexual tension – that’s the way we’re wired

    Men and women are different physically and psychologically, they complement one another, while there are exceptions, in general men are attracted by femininity and men are attracted by masculinity

    I’m more courteous and helpful to women than I am to men – for example I often ask women if they need help carrying something, I do that a lot less with men

    Most men also feel a genuine desire to protect women. I remember witnessing a bar fight once, I instinctively moved to protect my female friend from being accidentally hurt – it was instinct

    I’ve heard of numerous hiking stories where men have sacrificed themselves to protect women – it’s just the way we are

    When I practice with men, it’s all about pushing ourselves to the limit, laughing at each other’s mistakes, pretending we aren’t scared – the dynamic is different with women, I’m instinctively less gung-ho and more considerate

    Those that can’t accept the fundamental differences in male and female biology need to have a word with themselves

    Real feminism shouldn’t be about pretending men and women are the same, it should be about celebrating femininity, because women are truly amazing

  • So Wald

    Get real. Feminism fights sexism. Sexism is common in society. The climbing society is part of society, so sexism is also a part of the climbing society.

    • FDS

      Seems simple, doesn’t it? :)

  • River Mud

    Thanks for this article. My young son idolizes the top female teen climbers because he can (slightly) move like them, moreso than the male teens. I’m so happy about it. I enjoy climbing around women because why not. The movement and problem solving is often different, and frankly, I am a poor climber and I love new ideas, I have few of my own. What I don’t have time for are people who think that I couldn’t be a good spotter, or coach, to a woman because I’m a man. The opposite scenario, we all agree, is preposterous. So is this. The climbing community is one of the most positive crews I’ve been around in 40+ years. I hope it stays that way.

  • Maximilian Power

    This is the silliest attack on feminism I’ve yet seen. White feminism is such garbage. Do you understand that feminism today is concerned with much more than the advancement of middle class white women? Feminism goes too far the day that women of color, disabled women, Muslim women, trans women – and trans women of color, queer women – and queer women of color, gender-nonconforming folks, old and young women alike, poor women, ALL women and ALL gender-nonconforming people have ACCESS and a VOICE. Fuck this article, this is a joke.

  • FDS

    First, there is no such thing as “reverse” sexism. Just like there is no “reverse” racism. People are sexist and racist. Period. Women can be sexist towards other women, just as a black person can be racist towards another black person. Full stop.

    Second, there is no reasonable reason to believe that millennia of pervasive sexism (implicit or explicit) will magically end at the climbing gym or crag. While I love climbing, and I love the fact that it seems to be more gender balanced than other sports (a reason I would love for my daughter to participate). I have NEVER – not once – been touched inappropriately at the gym. I’ve never even THOUGHT about it. Why? Because I’m a dude. That’s systemic sexism that spills over from society into climbing. It’s there.

    Third, citing a few amazing female climbers at the top of the sport as evidence of the absence of sexism in climbing is like pointing to the handful of female CEOs in corporate America to try and prove gender equality in the workplace. That’s silly.

    Finally, the babes thing. Are we seriously discussing this? If I was the owner of the gym and started a “Piton Pussies” group, is that ok? Come on. Babes is clearly demeaning and derogatory when used in this context. Don’t try to defend a dumb action.

    You make a few good points in this article (some of which many of us would agree with… e.g., yes, people get bent out of shape over fairly silly things.). Generally, you also seem to be an intelligent person, but your overall thesis is undercut by faulty logic and sloppy arguments.

    Work on that.

    • FDS

      ^^ Davita, take note, this is how you build an argument.

    • Nice post Zofia

      • Why thank you but… really? You hate my opinions 😀

        • I don’t hate your opinions. Sometimes I don’t agree with them. I thought you came up with some good talking points here that addressed the actual climbing issues. I appreciate that. Good job

    • Tashtego

      I appreciate the effort it took to put together a thoughtful response. Nevertheless, I think you’re stretching Davita’s points in order to fit your own argument. I don’t believe you’re arguing in good faith against what she actually said.

      1) Nowhere in the article does say that we don’t need feminism because there are weekly events for women. And how are you reasoning that climbing events “by default” for men, if they are not explicitly for women? This is confusing.

      2) Again, nowhere in the article is she saying that we don’t need feminism, least of all because of the increased (merited) attention the climbing media is now paying to women climbers. If you concede that, thanks to feminism, we now continue to have “multiple fair accounts of women in climbing…in sharp contrast to decades of history”, would that not support the contention that feminism has at least in part achieved the goal of bringing that (merited) overdue attention to women climbers, and that it’s at least plausible to think that the effort needs to shift elsewhere where it is more required? Again, confusing.

      3) You’re right. One person’s anecdotal experience is not enough to invalidate the research done on this. But this is not what she’s doing. She’s putting forth her own perspective and reasoning as to why this specific type of discourse is not productive. In my mind, the article is meant to provoke thought on what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, not to suggest that everyone is wrong about all instances of sexism in climbing, or to suggest that all experiences that don’t line up are wrong.

      4) I don’t think it’s productive to quibble over whether there was a significant genesis of feminist thought that came from the French Revolution. I’m going to not contest that, as I don’t know enough to argue it, but I would argue that at its very core, the common thread that runs through all “versions” of feminism (even the radical and intersectional ones) is that of equality between the sexes. I’m not sure that that is controversial, or grounds to question her understanding of the term.

      5) No argument there, but I don’t think she formulated any sweeping statements. In fact, she was very careful to couch what she was saying as her own perspective. Not sure where this critique is coming from.

      6) Whatever you choose to call the term, she is still making the point that there is a kind of discourse spreading within the climbing community that treats minor annoyances as primarily driven by sexism and misogyny, and that this discourse is wildly disconnected from the traditional points of advocacy for feminism, which many may see as more important. Whether Sommers calls this differently, I still think it lines up conceptually with the point Davita is making. Call it “frivolity” or “hyperbolic victim status-seeking for the primary purpose of virtue signalling” if you want, the argument still stands. A rose by any other name…

      7) I’m not really sure how you can already determine that the term “babe”, regardless of context is “patronizing, infantilizing and objectifying”. I’m sure it can be, but so can the terms “lady”, “ma’am”, “sir” or “mister”, “dudebro” or even “dude”. Context and intent are pretty important here. I don’t see why you would be quick to read the intent of a male calling you “babe” immediately different than from a female doing the same thing.

      I also think the comparison between the term “babe” and the n-word is a big stretch. The term “babe” is used by males referring to females, females referring to females, females referring to males, and (admittedly to a much lesser extent) males referring to males. This is done in a wide variety of contexts, some “patronizing, infantilizing and objectifying” and some not. By contrast, almost all if not all cases of the use of the n-word in cross-“racial” conversations are considered to be either demeaning or insensitive at the very least. I don’t see how this is systemic sexism; does that mean that a male is by default sexist as soon as he refers to someone who is not a male as a “babe”? Does this still hold regardless of class, race, economic privilege, power disparity etc? I’m not exactly clear on what you mean by “systemic” in this context.

      Side point: Also, even if the above held true, Davita’s point that there is a tendency to “experience” this type of interaction (which I’m sure for some can be annoying or upsetting) and then write about it online for the benefit of approval from an echo chamber, is evidence of masked virtue-signaling. Could we not just say “Hey, I don’t really like the name. I’d like to call it something else. I’m pretty positive people attending aren’t going to love it.” and make it a teachable moment?

      8) See above.

      9) Again, it seems that you’re asserting that Davita is dismissing the experiences of those who have had someone touch them inappropriately when they were being spotted, when she explicitly maintains that this indeed happens in the article. Why? And why is asking not to be spotted, or to be spotted differently a bad solution? I’m prepared to walk away from any boulder problem/ route if I don’t feel comfortable in the person spotting/belaying me. I don’t see how that’s controversial.

      10) Full 100% agreement. Don’t do it.

      11) I think the conclusions that we reach from this article can be different. I see it as an observation piece on how we choose to couch our experiences and how there is a tendency for people to want to see a lot of the everyday annoyances (unwanted beta yelling, silly names for women’s events) as emblematic of a larger problem, and to amplify this view for approval on social media. For the life of me, I don’t understand how people are drawing the conclusion that “we don’t need feminism” (a contention with which I wholeheartedly disagree) from this article, but there you go. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

      12) Again, I think you’re not being fair to the point she is making. What I got from that paragraph was that you can find attitudes that bring you down from either sex, not exclusively from male climbing partners. I’m not sure how internalized sexism fits in that exchange…

      13) I’m not really sure what this means. The point she was making related to “sharing the blame” with regards to making the discourse around this issue toxic; that we can’t have a debate without having it devolve into a name-calling dumpster fire, and that consequently we only end up discussing this with those that voice their agreement with our position. I largely agree with that. I know for a fact that a male cannot espouse a certain viewpoint and have it discussed fairly without running the risk of being called “sexist, a woman-hater, and probably alienate a good chunk of [his] friends”, and I do believe it is the vocal online snark communities that call themselves “feminist” which have added fuel to this fire. Look at Andrew Bisharat’s column on female first ascents and the subsequent reaction. I think it’s long overdue that these communities accept some of that blame, which brings me to…

      14) I do take issue with your response being a bit catty, if I may say. I agree that it was thoughtful and made good points, but I do see this general “cattyness” from think and snark pieces as a contributing factor to the reason why debate around this is so toxic, which is something I didn’t see from her piece. Granted, MRAs and other groups made things much much worse with doxxing, death/rape threats, and other stupid BS. But I don’t think we can ignore that we could stand to be a lot more civil to each other when discussing this, and I think this piece is a good start.

      I agree that we need feminism. For many of the reasons you stated, I think we need feminist analysis and activism now more than ever. But I think that if feminism is going to take itself seriously as a political project, its aims, methods and theories need to be subject to scrutiny, analysis, critique and satire. These debates are certainly happening, but it certainly feels like the use of snark, and the invalidation of competing viewpoints is turning feminist analysis from an analytical tool to a rhetorical cudgel with which to alienate and ostracize those who don’t toe the established line. Let’s bring it back.

      Thanks for reading.


  • Dirk Peters

    “I don’t deny that real sexism exists in society, but, in climbing, I do not see the same plight.”

    Are we to believe that racism and sexism exist in society, but not in climbing? The one bias you can never see is your own. Climbers trend progressive, and I would never confuse my local gym with a Donald Trump rally. But after twenty years of climbing, I understand that we are no better and no worse than the rest of the world. No less biased. Just smellier.

    • FDS

      Hear, hear

  • Peter Nelson

    Thoughtful and well-put. Thanks Davita.

  • Luke Bertelsen

    A M E N……… This article squarely hit the nail.

  • Kati

    You do not speak for me or other women and shame on you for trying to. While women’s participation in the sport is growing, the sexism that pervades our society is far from absent in the climbing community. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve had men assume that my climbing partner is my boyfriend, mistake a climbing excursion for a date, assume that I do not want to lead, etcetera etcetera etcetera. Yes, Lynn Hill was the first woman to free the nose and it wasn’t repeated for some 10 years. If you had done ANY research you would also know the countless men that poo pooed the idea of trying to repeat it because if a woman could do it then it couldn’t be a worthy objective. This article is pure dribble.

  • Tim Kuss

    This is refreshingly mature, insightful and honest. Thank you

  • Inkadventure

    Few thoughts:
    -The fact that she only quotes Christina Hoff Sommers(who many would say is not a feminist expert) and no one else from the large field of feminist writers is a major problem.
    -It seems like wishful thinking to see sexism in our everyday society, possibly more emboldened right now than even a year ago, and think that climbing exists in a bubble protected from that.
    -She is dismissive of other women’s perspective and acts like the insecurities she mentions aren’t linked to cultural sexism that starts as a child.
    -Her comment “couldn’t she/he just ask not to be spotted” skims the surface. Power structures and assertiveness vs timidness are at play here and she doesn’t acknowledge that at all.
    This writer is obviously a strong woman and most likely makes all the women around her feel stronger too. She seems to be writing simply and from her gut about an issue that is complex and nuanced.

  • Michelle Rybak

    I am deeply pleased that the author is expressing this view. Coming from the ultimate frisbee community, and joining the climbing community, I’ve found that this complaint feminism runs rampant in both communities. My experience as a female in both community has only been that of openness, welcoming, and respect. Even though it shouldn’t be, this article is so brave!

  • SoMuchBetterThanYou1

    As a white man, I thought it was awesome that you pointed out that it’s really women’s fault for letting men make them feel bad! I’ve heard all this stuff about systematic oppression and it’s great to know that it doesn’t actually affect anyone except the whiny h8rs. Keep crushing it in the gym, maybe someday you’ll be as strong as a dude!

  • Saida Makhmudzade

    Depressing how much support this article has…a few thoughts that came into mind:
    1) The Beta Babes night: have you ever used the word babe in any way other than a woman you either have a romantic relationship with, or a woman you find attractive? “She’s a total babe.” “Babe, you want to go out for pizza?” Now why does this word, associated with attractiveness or romance, have to be included in the title for a female climbers’ night? My being a babe (or not) has nothing to do with climbing. And probably dudes would have no problem with a “Sailing Studs” night, they’d be flattered, right? Guys on the board?
    But here’s the difference: as a woman, I am used to being sexualized everywhere I go. Getting followed home as a 16 year old by some dude on a bike, cat calls, PMS jokes, group meetings where guys will suggest the same ideas that a woman suggested 15 minutes ago and suddenly be greeted with enthusiasm. Beta Babes is, in contrast, a seemingly innocent form of slight sexualization. If I were to see this banner at my climbing gym, I’d roll my eyes and say, Well, I’m used to things like this, whatever. But why should I accept even the small forms of only being palatable if it has to do with my appearance or girlfriend-iness? All that we craaaaaaaaazy feminists are asking the community, whom we trust and love and like, is, BE BETTER than the larger society.
    2) I’ve experienced less sexism in the climbing world than in the everyday world. This is quite uplifting. Yet, I’ve also been in bouldering gyms with super macho guys with their shirts off (and hats on, it wasn’t that warm 😉 ) giving me tips where I know they want to hit on me more than help me. So in that case, I say, “Thanks, but I want to work on this alone.” I can speak up for myself, no worries. When I need beta, I’ll ask someone I saw on the climb or who’s climbing around there what they think could help. But yet, there is still this subtle environment of dudes who need to butt in, to break my flow, and it’s not in my head. It is extremely helpful for me to hear from other women who have had the same experience–it’s not complaint-feminism, it’s solidarity, it’s community. That’s the thing with sexism, or racism. It’s often these subtle things where you think you’re imagining things, which causes you to doubt yourself, and it happens all the time.

    A salient point from the “Accept and Adapt” article:
    “The aim of the Women’s Climbing Festival is to open an experimental space that helps us acknowledge the growing community of women climbers, build solidarity with one another, and play with the possibility of climbing differently. We want to re-imagine our relationships with climbing without feeling pressured to conform to masculine social norms, and for some of us, to subvert them. Instead, we ask: How should we climb together? What do we climb for?”

  • maryamaquarium

    hmm…this article missed a lot of points. Mainly, it is written under a premise that would suggest that the climbing community exists in a post-sexist world/bubble. Which isn’t the case. Given that a lot of climbers also exist outside the climbing community, so many of our interactions are shaped by patriarchy and sexism–which does still exist in the world. I think it is great that Devita has never experienced sexism, but just because she hasn’t, doesn’t mean she should erase the experience of many other women….let alone minimize it. Which is unfortunately what she has done.

  • Greg Goodyear

    Yawn, nothing earned nothing gained

  • Isaiah Habib
  • Joe George

    I’ve just had a single woman move in next door to me. I won’t speak to her because she will probably pretend that I’m making a pass at her. The other day I heard her telling a female friend: “That guy hasn’t spoken to me. He’s probably queer.” I’ve read other articles by this Shelma Jun where she complains that the men either speak to her or they ignore her. Either way she complains.

  • Samantha Berry

    Thank you for eloquently writing what I have been feeling! Shelma, Erin, and others made me question if I was normal bc I sincerely didn’t see/feel my femininely perspective in the world as they did. Like don’t stare at a woman wearing a sports bra…ummm I’m a girl and i do that bc it’s not the social norm…when women start wearing that to the grocery store I think I may stop staring. Or don’t dance with me bc I didn’t ask, say no thank you, and consider it as someone trying to get to know you in the social context of our normal world. Thank you thank you thank you for this article!

  • David Echeverri

    We have to leave this feminism (or feminazism) bullsh** out and far distant from our beautiful sport. Feminism in climbing will only create segregation, division, bitterness because it only encourages woman to adopt a victim mentality, this victim mentality is not for performers, athletes and champs. The new feminist ideology puts man-hating garbage in the head of female climbers. Radical feminists: Stay away.

  • Hazel Findlay

    Can’t believe I missed this. Finally a moderate and sensible voice on gender issues!