Here's a thought:
If we keep building up more and more women's events and groups, but don't communicate well with men, involve them, or offer much for them....are we ending up alienating guys a bit and missing the bigger picture of what inclusivity is all about?? I've been wondering this a bit lately based on the fact that there are tons of courses, groups and events that I can signpost women climbers to...but almost nothing I can signpost guys to, and I actually think it's often harder for guys new to climbing to find friends and climbing partners.
I asked for your thoughts on this on my social media and so many of you sent me comments and messages, so thank you!
Here’s a few of the things that stood out from your comments:
- Many of you felt that it’s particularly hard for guys to meet others and find climbing friends. This was highlighted more for introverted or quieter guys, older men, or those just getting into climbing. (Please note that by identifying this, none of us are discrediting any other experiences or difficulties that women have in finding climbing buddies and social circles, and most of us are well aware that historically it’s been far easier for men to get into outdoor sports and participate equally)
- Some people felt that men just don’t seem to ‘need’, ‘ask for’, or ‘seek’ out groups, events or social opportunities in the climbing and outdoor world as much as women do.
- There were some thoughts around the need to also encourage men to attend things, and many of you really wanted to see your male partners and friends benefit from some of the opportunities out there for women
- People suggested that engaging men in conversations, experiences and learning opportunities is necessary in order to make the world a better place for all of us, and that we don’t ultimately want to make a bigger divide between genders or make some people feel isolated.
- Most people agreed that women’s events and groups are super important and really beneficial
- Many people have highlighted that women saw a need for women’s events, specific groups and courses….and so made it happen! There were many suggestions that men can and should make things happen if they see a need for it, there’s actually nothing stopping them!
- There was, however, a feeling from some guys that many social opportunities (particularly in climbing walls) are closed off to them, and that they don’t feel it would be ‘allowed’ for them to start something up or join a group. I wonder if this is more a ‘perceived’ feeling than actual reality…but to me highlights the need to communicate well with men and give guys an encouraging nudge if they need it.
A few thoughts:
- This post just mentions men and women…..but I appreciate that many people won’t identify with either of those terms. That makes me even more sure that we need to think carefully about what we are communicating and what the overall aim of inclusivity is.
- To clarify, I really do think that 'women only' or 'underrepresented' spaces in climbing and the outdoors are really important, valuable and empowering. I see that in my work and in my personal life. I just am convinced that we need to also have an eye on the bigger picture, consider what we are communicating and aiming for, and recognise that men also need to be a part of the learning and the developing in order for our world to be more inclusive and equal.