The names of rocks are sexist, says Canadian researcher

In these divisive times, it seems as though everything is now either racist, xenophobic, sexist, or any other type of…

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC

In these divisive times, it seems as though everything is now either racist, xenophobic, sexist, or any other type of problematic. As we continue to see, this bares no limits, and today, the ridiculous meter nearly spun off of it’s axis thanks to a new study published by a PhD candidate at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario.

According to Jennifer Wigglesworth, rocks, more specifically, the names of rocks that you climb, are deeply sexist and go largely unchallenged. This is due to the fact that most rocks climbed are first climbed by men. And what’s the only thing that men love climbing more than rocks? Crude humour.

Names like “The Reacharound,” “The Tampon Applicator” or simply “She Got Drilled” are the names given to three rocks that one would climb in Calabogie, Ontario. The reason these rocks have such evil names, Wigglesworth says, is because of what’s typically referred to as the “first ascension rule.”

“In outdoor climbing, it’s customary for the first person who successfully ascends or completes a route to [choose] a name for it,” said Wigglesworth to the CBC.

As is often the case in this horrible, misogynist hell-hole we live in, most rocks are typically first successfully climbed by men, and while the names selected may not be official, they tend to stick once they’re published in climbing magazines and guides.

“Once the name is decided, it’s published either in a climbing guidebook or in an online climbing forum,” said Wigglesworth. “So, it gets in a guidebook and sadly, it just ends up there.”

For her PhD thesis, Wigglesworth asked a number of female climbers for their opinions on the hyper-masculine potty-joke-humour names.

While some found the names funny and unoffensive—likely due to the fact that they are rocks—others found the names offensive, and as a way to “systematically exclude women from the sport,” because as we all know, women are incredibly fragile, and if a rock is called “The Reacharound,” women are suddenly and instantly unable to ever climb a rock again.

Wigglesworth has her own opinion on the matter, stating that the rock names are emblematic of how women are seen in society as a whole.

“Something so trivial as a rock climbing route name can tell us much about the world and the systems of power circulating in our society,” she said. “The acceptance of these misogynist route names is symptomatic of how we view women in climbing, and [in] society more broadly.”

Wigglesworth carves out the argument that the misogynistic names given to rock faces across Canada tell women they’re not welcome to participate in the sport. She isn’t the first to have made this argument, because of course she isn’t.

A 2018 article published on Medium makes the case that not only are the names of rocks sexist, but men as a whole taint the rock climbing community with their “toxic masculinity” and “mansplaining.”

“We lose count of the amount of times that men interrupt us with their detailed versions of how to complete a climb just as we are working the problem, or redoing a problem we’ve already done,” argues Stephanie Holt. “It shouldn’t really surprise us that the pervasive toxicity of masculinity seeps into even the most supportive and seemingly inclusive communities.”

This entire problem may stem from the some how controversial fact that men are stronger than women, and thus more easily physically equipped to climb rocks.

So whether it’s the oppressive and dehumanizing horrors of dodgeball, or the crude names of big rocks, the great work of students and professors at the fine universities across Canada are helping us smash the patriarchy, one innocuous evil at a time.

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