/ PRODUCT NEWS: Male Identity and Rock Climbing

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Everyday Masculinities and Extreme Sport
Male Identity and Rock Climbing
by Victoria Robinson


Rock climbing is one of today's most popular 'extreme sports.' Although many women are involved, the sport retains a particularly male image and culture. Everyday Masculinities and Extreme Sport presents the first in-depth study of rock climbing in the UK, analysing what it reveals about the contemporary construction and performance of masculinity through sport.

More details: http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/news.php?id=1326
TobyA 06 Oct 2008
In reply to UKC Gear: Hmmmm.... as a (semi-lapsed) sociologist I want to read this now. I'm interested how someone who has obviously done a lot of research with climbers (and is perhaps a climber them self?) would still talk about "extreme" sports. I'm now worried that my grasp of climber's self told narrative in modern Britain is slipping. I thought that most "real climbers" (i.e. those with the power to create the hegemonic meta-narrative of what real climbers are) just put on their withering sneer when anyone called climbing an "extreme sport"?
rob_lee 06 Oct 2008
In reply to TobyA: why write a book for men about men doin manly stuff. men dont read were to busy doing manly things like fighting grizzly bears.
where can i get a copy sounds gd and the winters setting in
AlisonS 06 Oct 2008
In reply to UKC Gear:

This is a book than can be read with profit by both those who know little about the sport and those who are enthusiastic participants.

Unless you are perverse enough to be a female who climbs it would seem.
Michael Ryan 07 Oct 2008
In reply to AlisonS:
> (In reply to UKC Gear)
>
> This is a book than can be read with profit by both those who know little about the sport and those who are enthusiastic participants.
>
> Unless you are perverse enough to be a female who climbs it would seem.

I think the book can be read by anyone Alison.

We have a review by a male coming up, would you like to review a copy too?
John2 07 Oct 2008
In reply to AlisonS: Given that the author is called Victoria, one suspects that there might be something in the book for the female reader.
In reply to UKC Gear:

> Although many women are involved, the sport retains a particularly male image and culture.

As opposed to what? Football, cricket, rugby, darts, snooker, yachting, polo, basketball?

I do hope the book is not based on this ridiculous premise.


Gordon Stainforth 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Jonathan Lagoe - UKC:

Yes, the whole history of women climbers from the 1860s onwards makes complete nonsense of such a premise.
The Jazz Butcher 07 Oct 2008
In reply to TobyA:

I agree. This really, really makes me despair and feel quite sad.

Considering the fact the author has carried out a lot of research, it seems she is trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator to sell this book. That is, those in our society who would like to give the impression that they are "Extreme Athletes" by buying and reading this.

How many times do we have to try and explain that climbing is not an extreme sport carried out by adrenaline and testosterone fuelled junkies?

I haven't read this book, and I am unlikely to (got to wash my hair tonight and every night, forever!) with a title like "Male Identity and Rock Climbing".
The author obviously hasn't been to France where as many girls as boys climb as part of the school curriculum. My wife's 14 yr old niece in Cannes has redpointed 7b as part of her sports class at the local crag!! And she doesn't even really like climbing!!!

For f*%$s sake give me a break! The last thing climbing needs is another book like this perpetuating the myth of climbing carried out by death wish male nutters all jostling to show off the size of their private parts.

Ahhhhh, rant over, got that off my chest, looks out the window, raining no climbing today, back to paperwork.

Rich.
goneforever 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Richard White:

Chapter heading: 'Problematising Extreme Sports'

On a number of levels, this tells you everything you need to know about content.
Tall Clare 07 Oct 2008
In reply to the thread:

a few thoughts

1) there's a cliche about not judging a book by its cover and yet everyone seems to be doing that - ha ha!
2) surely these things have to be framed in certain ways to fit certain arenas - obviously we all know everything there is to know about climbing, including sociological and psychological motivations for it <cough>, but this is, from what the OP suggests, an academic text dressed up, as these things sometimes are, for a broader audience who may or may not be interested. I'm not sure the target audience is specifically 'Earnest UKC Reader Weekly'.
3) just because someone's focused on the male relationship with the sport, doesn't mean it's inherently anti-female. But you knew that, right?

Mick - it looks interesting. Any chance the author would agree to an excerpt being published on here?
The Jazz Butcher 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Martin76:

"Problematising", "Problematising"? What sort of word is that?

It isn't in my copy of the English dictionary. However, to be fair I am not an expert on the English language. Perhaps it correct, though I would appreciate someone more knowledgeable giving their opinion, Dave you reading this?

Rich.
goneforever 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Tall Clare:

Doesn't strike me as something that's particularly aimed at the mainstream, leaning more to the academic side.

As for judging a book by its cover, unfortunately, that's something we all have to do, given that there are 65 million books in the world!

I'd be interested in seeing an excerpt, if only to confirm my ugly prejudices.
Tall Clare 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Martin76:

I think an excerpt would definitely be helpful!
In reply to Tall Clare:

> 1) there's a cliche about not judging a book by its cover and yet everyone seems to be doing that - ha ha!

No - read my post again
Tall Clare 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Jonathan Lagoe - UKC:

conceded - just being grumpy - I do think that more information is needed on this one before everyone starts bellowing though.
Gordon Stainforth 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Richard White:

It would also be helpful if someone could explain what the phrase 'Problematising Extreme Sports' means. is it something to do with 'Making extreme sports problematic?' Which seems rather odd, given that an extreme sport is by its nature problematic to start with. The aim of most extreme sports is to reduce the life-threatening problems to an acceptable level i.e. to make the highly improbable, or even impossible, possible.
dread-i 07 Oct 2008
In reply to John2:
>Given that the author is called Victoria, one suspects that there might be something in the book for the female reader.
Pictures of boulderers with their tops off looking muscular?
goneforever 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Tall Clare:
> (In reply to Jonathan Lagoe - UKC)
>
> conceded - just being grumpy - I do think that more information is needed on this one before everyone starts bellowing though.

Wouldn't it be just less fun if we were all reasonable and restrained?

Hang the witch, I say!
Tall Clare 07 Oct 2008
In reply to dread-i:

we can but hope.

<guffaw>
Tall Clare 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Martin76:

ha haaaaa!

yes, good point.
The Jazz Butcher 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Very good point Gordon.

Over the years I have always tried to explain to non climbers that climbing is about calculating and reducing the risk.

It is not about getting "adrenaline buzzes" which indicates that one has lost control and is not a good situation to be in.

Rich.
John2 07 Oct 2008
In reply to dread-i: More likely to be an extreme feminist view of the activity, in my opinion. If the book's about male identity why is one of the chapters about belay bunnies?

Where's Marc C when you need him?
The Jazz Butcher 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Martin76

> Hang the witch, I say!

Oh dear, I feel the whole Monty Python "Burn the Witch" sketch coming on!

Rich.
Tall Clare 07 Oct 2008
In reply to John2:

blimey, that's an impressive bit of jumping-to-conclusions!
goneforever 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Tall Clare:

I suppose some people are into navel-gazing (not just in a tops-off bouldering sense), but I look at books like this, and I see an attempt to manufacture complexity and disharmony where none exists.

<Shuts cave door>
Alun 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Richard White:
> How many times do we have to try and explain that climbing is not an extreme sport carried out by adrenaline and testosterone fuelled junkies?

Because it is.

Okay, not all climbers are adrenaline and testorone fuelled junkies, but a lot of them are - and these are the ones in the limelight.

The same could be said for many "extreme" sports. The majority of snowboarders just enjoy bimbling down the slopes, it's only a few who really enjoy throwing themselves 100 feet up in the air. The the majority of surfers just enjoy riding a nice clean wave, only a few really take on the 60 metre waves in the Pacific.

Yet these sports, along with climbing, are labelled as 'extreme' sports, becuase the highest profile sponsored athletes (and their followers) could well be termed "adrenaline and testerone fuelled". And the majority of these people are male.

So, while this book perhaps doesn't represent all of the climbing fraternity, I would imagine it has some interesting things to say about the part of it most visible to the outside world (q.v. Leo Houlding on Top Gear, Tim Emmett on the BBC etc).

And I agree with Clare, there is a fair bit of book-judgment-based-on-cover-alone going on.
John2 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Tall Clare: I just feel sorry for those poor oppressed belay bunnies.
Michael Ryan 07 Oct 2008


It's an interesting book. I have a copy here.
goneforever 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Go on then, get in touch with the author and let's have a few extracts.
Gordon Stainforth 07 Oct 2008
In reply to John2:

Perhaps some belay bunnies enjoy being belay bunnies?
The Jazz Butcher 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Alun:

I completely disagree with you.

Using the examples you have, actually reinforces my argument.

When Leo and Tim are climbing hard and bold routes or BASE jumping they are in complete control of their body and mind. If they let themselves get out of control ie have an "adrenaline rush" or succumb to the effects of testosterone, letting ego mar their judgement, they would be unlikely to last very long.

Rich.
Michael Ryan 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Martin76:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com)
>
> Go on then, get in touch with the author and let's have a few extracts.

We are already in touch with Vicki.

Yes I will ask.

Also we are hoping to have two reviews.

Lot of jumping to conclusions on this thread. Lot of testosterone flying around too.

Mick

Alun 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Richard White:
> When Leo and Tim are climbing hard and bold routes or BASE jumping they are in complete control of their body and mind. If they let themselves get out of control ie have an "adrenaline rush" or succumb to the effects of testosterone, letting ego mar their judgement, they would be unlikely to last very long.

I completely agree with you. I wonder what they book says - maybe it agrees with us both?
goneforever 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
> (In reply to Martin76)
> [...]
>
> Lot of jumping to conclusions on this thread. Lot of testosterone flying around too.
>
> Mick

It always was thus - and long may it continue. I'd rather it were a bearpit in here than a backwater.
Alun 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Richard White:
> When Leo and Tim are climbing hard and bold routes or BASE jumping they are in complete control of their body and mind. If they let themselves get out of control ie have an "adrenaline rush" or succumb to the effects of testosterone, letting ego mar their judgement, they would be unlikely to last very long.

Actually you're missing the point - when I climb a route at my limit, or drop in on a big (for me!) wave then I am focused entirely on the moment, everything else leaves my mind. The adrenaline rush comes afterwards. But it does come.
Gordon Stainforth 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Alun:
> (In reply to Richard White)
> [...]
>
> Actually you're missing the point - when I climb a route at my limit, or drop in on a big (for me!) wave then I am focused entirely on the moment, everything else leaves my mind. The adrenaline rush comes afterwards. But it does come.

As you say it comes afterwards. I don't think it's the primary reason we go climbing - which is much more to do with having an amazing sensory/physical experience very unlike anything in everyday life, solving interesting problems, having unfolding adventures, mixing with other adventurers, connecting with nature etc etc etc. I believe it has very little indeed to do with male sex hormones; indeed I'd hazard a guess that women climbers get exactly the same pleasure/s out of climbing as men.
The Jazz Butcher 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Alun:

Is it adrenaline or endorphins you experience? I don't know enough about the physiology aspect to be sure.

However, I do appreciate what you are saying and yes, I do feel a sense of elation upon achieving something from climbing.

But I don't think it is adrenaline, as this is much more of a basic primitive response brought about by a lack of control and fear. It is much more a feeling of calm and achievement.

Rich.
John2 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: If the truth be known, Gordon, in one of my climbing partnerships I'm very much a belay bunny to a female climber. One wonders if the generalisations of a sociologist take account of all the different roles that people undertake in the sport of climbing.

I remember being greatly amused by Marc's tale of how he was harangued into taking down a photograph of a short and T shirt clad female climber by one of the females in his sociology department - perhaps I'm letting that (true) story influence my image of the female sociologist.
Alun 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> I don't think it's the primary reason we go climbing

Maybe not for you Gordon, or for me. But for some people maybe. Why bother going to try to climb a route at your limit otherwise?

All of us can have a magical day's climbing on the Devonshire coast, experiencing and enjoying all of the things you listed above. James Pearson experienced them too, but for him the biggest draw was climbing a new incredibly hard, very dangerous new route.

Different strokes for different folks.
Jimmy D 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to Richard White)
>
> It would also be helpful if someone could explain what the phrase 'Problematising Extreme Sports' means.

I do think it’s quite ugly language but in a social science context I think it means to describe and clarify the subject and related questions and issues so that they may then be analysed in a rigourous manner. It’s a kind of scene-setting for the discussion to come.
Gordon Stainforth 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Alun:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
> [...]
>
> Maybe not for you Gordon, or for me. But for some people maybe. Why bother going to try to climb a route at your limit otherwise?
>

We don't do it simply to get an 'adrenaline buzz' though, do we? Surely it's because an adventure is something we don't know the outcome of, and when we climb something at or beyond our present standard we don't know if we're going to succeed. Also, if we are genuinely keen climbers we want to improve our ability/ get better at it.
Gordon Stainforth 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Jimmy D:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
> [...]
>
> I do think it’s quite ugly language but in a social science context I think it means to describe and clarify the subject and related questions and issues so that they may then be analysed in a rigourous manner. It’s a kind of scene-setting for the discussion to come.

Ah, thanks for explaining that. It's certainly very ugly language and ill-chosen because it suggests something different from its meaning. I would have thought that a word like 'characterise' would be more straightforward, but I suppose it doesn't sound technical enough for the lovers of jargon.
Jimmy D 07 Oct 2008
In reply to John2:
> (In reply to dread-i) More likely to be an extreme feminist view of the activity, in my opinion.

Given the currency of feminist theory in the social sciences, there's no doubt something in what you say (not wanting to pre-judge matters too much , of course )

Much as it can be a bit uncomfortable to see one of one's favourite activities given the critical academic treatment, most likely there'll be some good insights and ideas in there. There may, of course, also be some total bollocks in there. Either way, it'll just be one way of looking at things, to take on board or disregard as we please. I'd like to see this book.


Tall Clare 07 Oct 2008
In reply to John2:
>
>
> I remember being greatly amused by Marc's tale of how he was harangued into taking down a photograph of a short and T shirt clad female climber by one of the females in his sociology department - perhaps I'm letting that (true) story influence my image of the female sociologist.

ha ha ha haaaaa, I've got a very good friend who's a female sociologist who I feel confident wouldn't react like this - so that's two female sociologists in our pool whose behaviour we can compare and contrast. Question is, who's right?

guffaw!

Alun 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> I would have thought that a word like 'characterise' would be more straightforward, but I suppose it doesn't sound technical enough for the lovers of jargon

Or perhaps it is more of standard term in socialogy, and using anything else would confuse socioligists who read the book? i don't know, I'm not a sociologist.

Sorry if I'm coming across as aggressive, but from the blurb in the article above this seems to be less of a pop-sci book aimed at climbers, and more of a serious sociology book written by a Senior Lecturer at a respected university. For that reason alone, I object to it being dissected haphazardly by a kangaroo court on UKC who have neither read nor, it appears, have the slightest inclination to do so.
Alun 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Alun:
correction to last line
"...have neither read it nor..."
I didn't mean to come across as quite so scathing!
Swig 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Alun:

Given your point about climbing routes focussed entirely on the moment - this book might better explain things:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flow-Classic-Work-Achieve-Happiness/dp/0712657592/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=b...
Graeme Alderson 07 Oct 2008
In reply to UKC Gear: Lots of willy waving going on by people who haven't read the book or have any knowledge of the author.

One little titbit about Victoria - she will kill for the last spoonful of tiramisu
In reply to Richard White:

>If they let themselves get out of control ie have an "adrenaline rush"

I'm not sure if 'adrenalin rush' has some hugely specific meaning, but I'm pretty sure they have more adrenalin in their bodies than at other times and that this is part of the pleasure they derive from what they do. Isn't that basic biochemistry? Or is it in fact merely pop biochemistry which misleads ignoramuses like me. And Ron F, of course ("I could only get it one time in eight on a rope, but I figured adrenalin would get me up, so I soloed it.").

Loving Tall Clare telling others off for judging a book by its cover and then saying it sounds interesting, by the way. Put me in the 'cliched crap' camp at this stage, but like TC I could be wrong, of course.

jcm
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

>It's certainly very ugly language

I think that's rather generous, Gordon. One could hardly call it language at all.

Anyone who uses language that badly is in my view extremely unlikely to be able to write anything interesting, or indeed intelligible. But hey, let's look forward to the extracts.

jcm
Tall Clare 07 Oct 2008
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

ha ha, that's a fair point. I guess, for those of you too lumpen to realise, I should perhaps have said 'I'd like to read it before dismissing it completely', hence the numerous further comments about wanting to see an extract.

but bless you anyway.
Stig 07 Oct 2008
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> It would also be helpful if someone could explain what the phrase 'Problematising Extreme Sports' means.

It is a fairly commonly used expression in academic circles. In this context it means to look underneath the surface of what we think we mean by 'extreme sports' - getting underneath the common sense usage and considering different meanings. Perhaps rather like Socrates did all those years ago? Ironically many posters above immediately jumped in to 'problematise' the construction of climbing as an 'extreme' sport.

I agree with you it is an ugly and, for a non-academic audience, obfuscating word.
duncan 07 Oct 2008
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:


> Anyone who uses language that badly is in my view extremely unlikely to be able to write anything interesting, or indeed intelligible.

Being lectured on intelligiblility by a lawyer, a little like being advised on contraception by the Pope?

In reply to duncan:

Lawyers (solicitors anyway) need to be able to write in two styles. They need to be able to explain to their client in words the client understands, and they need to be able to write accurately for drafting purposes. It's true that problems can arise when some lawyers fail to remember which they're trying to achieve, but in principle lawyers should be better at writing intelligibly than the general public.

jcm
TRNovice 07 Oct 2008
In reply to UKC Gear:

What's the bouldering equivalent of a belay bunny? A spotting submissive (any better alliterations would be welcome on a post card)? Whatever it is, that's my role in life.
Niall 07 Oct 2008
In reply to TRNovice:

A Mat?

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