sexism

A group climbing “Panty Wall” at Red Rocks, Nevada. (Photo by Jennifer Wigglesworth)

Tampon Applicator. She Got Drilled. Pussy Whipped. Slippery When Wet. Quick and Slick. The Reacharound.

Any guesses as to what I’m talking about?

Believe it or not, these are the names of rock climbing routes on public land in Canada.

In outdoor rock climbing, it is customary for the first person who successfully “sends” a route (the first ascensionist) to choose a name for it. A culture of adolescent sexual humour permeates climbing and some first ascensionists name cliffs and routes with sexist puns—this can take the form of sexual innuendo, gender stereotyping, male sexual gratification and overt gender violence. It is because of the strong tradition of first ascent naming rights in the climbing community that these route names persist with little to no confrontation.

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As shown on these scorecards, women are continually reminded that they are “ladies” in the sport of golf. (Photo by Jane Stangl)

I am golfer, and people often ask, “since when?,” or “for how long?” I can’t answer that accurately, and my response is generally, “since my aunt took me out on early summer mornings when I was a youngster.” Seven years old? Maybe nine or ten—I’m not sure. But I do recall my Red Ball Jets being thoroughly saturated by the morning dew. My aunt loved to play, and I loved it too. The etiquette, she reminded me often, was what really mattered. Little did I realize back then just how much that etiquette, especially as it relates to being a “lady,” would speak to my place in the larger world.

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Vincenzo Nibali with “podium girls” after winning the 2014 Tour de France. Photo from Outside Online.

Recently, organizers of the professional cycling event the Tour Down Under made the decision to eliminate “podium girls” and replace them with male junior riders on the men’s tour, thereby breaking from the tradition of other major professional cycling events like the Tour De France, Vuelta a Espana and Giro D’Italia. Podium girls are a highly visible component of the awards ceremony at the conclusion of bike races. The women are often impeccably dressed in matching outfits while presenting winners with prizes, flowers and kisses on the cheek. The role of podium girls and, in some instances, podium boys provides a snapshot of the ways in which traditional gender norms are reinforced in sport.

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