Safe Outside? Sexual Harassment and Assault in the Climbing Community

It exists, although some (men) might not believe it. For that reason I want to direct your attention to the #SafeOutside campaign and the results of its survey which show that the climbing community is not outside of society but rather reflects the latter and shares many of its problems.

#SafeOutside is an independent grassroots initiative designed to combat sexual harassment and sexual assault (SHSA). It is supported primarily by the American Alpine Club and Alpinist Magazine.safeoutside-dark

According to the #SafeOutside survey presented in August, »47 percent of the women surveyed and 16 percent of the men had experienced some form of sexual assault or sexual harassment during a climbing activity«, as a very recommendable Climbing Magazine article cites the survey.

No surprise, key findings of the survey were rather sobering:

  • Sexism is pervasive: Problematic commenting, stereotypical assumptions, as well as unwanted touching while spotting all were described as common problems »limiting women’s access to climbing free of fear, anxiety or discomfort«.
  • SHSA experiences negatively impact engagement in the climbing community, from disengaging with the activity to quitting altogether
  • People often don’t recognize SHSA when it happens
  • SHSA among climbing communities is not homogenous
  • Climbers are willing to engage on the topic of SHSA

The report also proposes actions to be taken to confront SHSA, such as bystander intervention, and offers guidelines for responding to victims as well as organizational best practices and a lot of further useful information on the topic.

You should read the report yourself, particularly men, because, as #metoo founder Tarana Burke pointed out, »this is not a women’s movement. It’s a people’s movement. We’re not going to change and move the needle without men. So it’s really important that we have these honest dialogues and that men let down their guard a little bit and allow themselves to listen deeply to what’s being said.«

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