From the moment I started reading the introduction of this book, I knew it was going to get me riled up fast. I know Arlene Blum probably intended for this to happen, and I am happy to say that it worked on me. On the first page of the introduction, Blum prints the letter she received from the leader of an expedition that she applied to go on. I think I was too surprised when I read the following:
"But one woman and nine men would seem to me to be unpleasant high on the open ice, not only in excretory situations, but in the easy masculine companionship which is so vital a part of the joy of an expedition.
Sorry as hell."(Blum, XVII)
To me, this sentence basically implies that one of the main reasons that mountain climbing is so wonderful is because there are no women there. This is one step further than I can handle. Blum has all the qualifications and more than others who went on the trip, so the leader of the expedition must come up with a bullshit reason to exclude her. Excuse my French. But come on. No, no, it's not that you can't physically do it, it's just that you will mess up our easy masculine companionship.
This letter is possibly even topped by the next offensive statement that Blum heard from a climbing guide that "'there are no good women climbers. Women climbers either aren't good climbers, or they aren't real women.'" (Blum, XVII).
No. No way. How could this sentence possibly come out of someone's mouth? "They aren't real women"? This is the most baffling part to me.
Ok, I do understand that there are real physical differences in the strength and endurance of men and women. If there was anything that calmed me down, it was Blum's ending to the introduction, which really just made me so ready to read the book. She says,
"Individual differences are more important that sexual ones, and motivation counts most of all. Women do have the strength and endurance to climb the highest mountains, just as men do, and both men and women should have the chance." (Blum XXIV)
This response just shows the maturity and empowerment of women like Arlene Blum. I could not respect her more for not only fighting these stereotypes but also keeping a clear head about the reality of the climbing culture.
Can't believe I just ranted but I felt it had to be said.
Sorry as hell.