Monday, February 10, 2014

Womanly Characterisation

Blum introduces most of the people in her book, and in particular her climbing team in a very different way from Herzog.  Herzog focused on their physical capabilities and large accomplishment with some mention of other skills.  Blum sends time describing their personalities, what she thinks of each woman, and how she thinks each will interact with each other and with her.  This could just be a result of different people, different goals for the book, or different writing styles.  I took it more as a sign of a woman climber and author.  Throughout the book it reminded me that these were real women, people who battle emotional and relationship problems.  It also impressed on me how important group cohesiveness is through all parts of the journey; temporally, logistically, etc.

I think it is interesting that whether or not they had children was mentioned multiple times.  Was anything of the kind mentioned in the Herzog book?  It definitely held no focus.  If a father leaves his 2 yr old home with his wife to go risk his life climbing a mountain do you cringe?  How about if the mother does it?  Women climbers have gotten a lot of backlash in the media about their apparent disregard for their responsibilities as a mother.  I think this goes hand-in-hand with the 'women can't climb mountains' mentality that Blum and the team are constantly fighting against.  Even while watching the current Olympics, one of my friends mentioned that he couldn't understand how a mother could risk her life doing skeleton or luge, but noted that he would never wonder if a male athlete had children.

"Some people look at my hands and say, 'You're a stupid woman.'  I say, 'Excuse me!  Go back to your shopping mall and your television.  That's your life.  Mine's a bit different.'"
~Cherie Bremer-Kamp (Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow: The Dark Side of Extreme Adventure by Maria Coffey)

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