GVG: Do you want to write me a blog?
GVG: No one’s written me a blog for ages.
GVG: You could write one about This Girl Can.
Me: …this girl can’t be arsed.
GVG: Haha! You could write about that.
Me: That would go down well.
GVG: There’s quite a lot going on about that isn’t there.
Me: Mmm. I think everyone should just try their hardest, regardless of gender. Not enough people do that full stop. There’s a difference between saying you ‘can’ do something and actually giving it a go.
GVG: There’s some event coming up called No Man’s Land – women only. What do you think about that sort of thing?
Me: Yeah I was talking to Maddie about all the hype about women climbing. We realised we might be lucky to be part of a nice bubble where it’s not really a thing. You know, gender’s just not a thing amongst our friends.
GVG: Yeah I know, if I go out climbing I expect to be burnt off by my female friends as much as my male friends. Because let’s face it most of them are absolute wads.
Me: But then we were saying that that’s probably not the experience for all women.
Tom: Ferdia, can you get the knife and chop the veg?
GVG: Yeah you definitely still get the climbing boyfriend taking out the girlfriend. And the old boys patronising girls… ‘Are you alright love?’
Me: Yeah. And then there’s all this stuff about the representation of women in the outdoors on social media at the moment.
GVG: Oh yeah I saw that, like ‘back of a woman’s head gazing into the distance’, not women actually doing things.
Me: And they’re predicting that this year it’ll be all about the ‘gritty woman’ etc. I just think excessive flap about how women are represented is probably pretty offputting in itself. But again it’s not just a women’s problem. It’s men too. Grizzled adventurers are losing funding to people better at looking like they’re doing things.
Tom: Ferdia, can you get the knife?
GVG: It’s about marketing isn’t it.
Me: Yeah, companies are gonna support people who make them money.
GVG: So many young climbers are psyched for sponsorship aren’t they?
Me: Yeah, definitely. It’s something I’ve seen – young climbers doing all they can to get a free pair of sunglasses. They just think it’s what you should aspire to. And they put in the hours on social media and blogging, when if they’d just worked those hours somewhere they could have bought the sunglasses.
GVG: Haha I loved Andy’s climbing video… ‘sponsored by having jobs’.
Me: We had barely any footage. We only filmed anything at all to help us keep a sense of humour whilst climbing.
GVG: Pointing the camera at each other. It works doesn’t it!
Me: Yeah. And Andy really enjoyed trying to make something out of nothing, compared to having a budget and fancy equipment. But that’s the beauty of not having anything to push… Anyway, what were we saying? It’s the sponsorship kids want. They don’t realise how hard you have to work now to keep it. It’s about promoting the products and maybe the company’s ethos about healthy living etcetera more than performing well.
GVG: Like Ryan losing his Five Ten deal.
Me: Yeah. But then I guess it means people who work hard will keep being rewarded as they get older or stop performing as well, so it’s better for them too as it’s not just performance-related. And promoting healthy lifestyles is good. I don’t really know what I think, but it seems to be more of a job now than people realise.
GVG: A marketing job.
Me: Yeah exactly and I think if people, young people realised that, they’d think a bit more about whether it’s for them. But I think that’s something that’s only changed quite recently and so companies maybe haven’t finished communicating that that’s what’s involved.
Tom: Right, Guy, can just pause for a minute. Ferdia – knife.
Tom: Ok Guy, resume.
GVG: But it’s taken for granted isn’t it. When I used to skateboard I’d buy magazines full of features like ‘How to get sponsored’.
Me: Yeah and kids are all obsessed with becoming ‘Youtube famous’. It’s something other people don’t understand about climbing. My brothers always used to ask me, you know, ‘Are you gonna get sponsored’, because they’re into more mainstream sports like football, where there’s money to be made. But there’s very little money to be made in climbing and I tell them it’s a blessing, because it’s just not a possibility. And I think the way school is now, kids are encouraged to be constantly preparing themselves for the future, achieving things they can list on their label like ingredients on a can of Heinz baked beans, to sell themselves later on. They’re preparing themselves for this time when they will leave school and start to live their lives. They’re always in the future, never in the present and it’s like ‘No, this is living, now!’ And I think it’s been really important for my brothers to understand that you can just do things for fun. You know, they’d get into something and think ‘Can I make a living from this?’ and it would be a huge stress. You can’t just enjoy something if that question’s there. So I think it’s a real blessing that there’s no money to be made in climbing.
GVG: Why don’t you write about that?
Me: Could do.
- Ferdia Earle