Tuesday, 12 February 2008

"Getting burnt-off by your girlfriend" (by Peter)

Peter bimbling at Neddyfields, Portland

I hear this quite a lot, I guess it's just a piece of banter really, but something about it always grates with me; but maybe not in the way that you think.

As can probably be ascertained from these pages, my girlfriend is a pretty strong boulderer. There are many problems that she can do that are beyond me (whether this is entirely a physical phenomenon or partly a mental issue for me I haven't quite worked out as yet). The gap between us is perhaps narrower in other forms of climbing, but I'll stick to bouldering to try to make my point.

OK, with respect to bouldering, my girlfriend is certainly a better climber than me. She does indeed burn me off on many problems. What strikes me as odd is that anyone would think that this is an issue for me. Is it meant to be against God's law and the nature of things that a woman climbs harder than a man? Is it somehow threatening to my manhood, or (perhaps more pertinently in this case) manhood in general? Is this the beginning of the unravelling of the very fabric of society?

There seems to be an assumption that I would much prefer the situation to be reversed; let's make this clear, this is 100% not the case. Do I want to become a much better boulderer?, yes of course I do. Am I competitive by nature?, you bet! But do I measure my climbing success against other people, and in particular my girlfriend?, not really. Looking at it the other way, what sort of boyfriend would wish that their partner failed at something that they were committed to, just to salve some out-dated concept of their own masculine prowess or to sustain gender stereotypes?

So when I'm in the process of being burnt-off (generally spotting at the same time), am I secretly wishing for her to fall? When you put it like that, how could I be? Instead I'm probably urging her on to the top and just as pleased as she is when (as is normally the case) she sends something that I can't even pull on to.

Come on guys, maybe we should all feel a bit more secure about this. If Wills Young is cool with Lisa's achievements, why can't we all be?

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