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E17 TRANSCRIPT: More thoughts on topless climbing


[MUSIC starts - Bassbeat by Alex Norton: "Funky and upbeat, jangling guitars, a fat bassline and a full horn section create the perfect soundtrack to a late summer block party."]

FRAN: Hello, you are listening to On the Outside the podcast that shares diverse views on Outdoors News.

I am Francesca Turauskis and I'm here in your podcast feed today with a short bonus episode. And this is in relation to the last episode that we had where Soraya and Carlos came on the show to talk to me about topless climbing. So after that episode went out, I did have a couple of people get in touch to give me their opinions on this subject. One of those people was a panelist that from previous episodes, Frit Tam and Frit had things to say about this. So much so that I am wishing that I did get him onto that show in the first place. But I did want to just share some of the message that he sent over to me. And he said that he was very happy for me to read that out for you today to get a bit of an idea as to where he was coming from in relation to the conversation. "Should topless climbing be banned?" And so I'm just going to read out what he sent over to me. "I love that this episode was about a divisive topic and just covering one topic so you had time to really dive into it. I think this gave way to some really interesting suggestions from you, particularly regarding the tops on sessions at gyms. I think that was a great out of the box idea, but I think Carlos and Soraya basically agreed with each other about not understanding why the tops off band was in place, which then led to an imbalanced episode. If I was a new climber and listened to it, my takeaway would be that climbing culture can stink and it's up to me to not be put off by folks with six packs who climb with their tops off. There's religious reasons, trauma responses from sexual abuse survivors. There's so many more reasons why tops off can be harmful and damaging." And I did manage to get another couple of people to tell me their thoughts on microphone as well. So let's start off with a voice you will recognize. This is Ani Barber who we owe a congratulations to because she has in fact gotten married since she was last on the show. But here are her thoughts on climbing topless.

ANI: I think topless climbing I, I'm fine with it essentially is my main aspect of it. I can understand that this idea that we don't like toppers climbing because it comes from that I'm a climbing bro kind of attitude in my experience. It doesn't matter whether they're clothed or not, people tend to be, you get those at climbing walls. In fact, my experience has been that they have normally closed, there is one or two climbers I think that climb topless. I really don't notice them. I might notice some of them walking in and I'm getting set up. And then I would notice a girl's really cute climbing top that I see somebody wear. And that does actually happen quite regularly. But then after that, all you're doing is looking at the wall, you're looking at the roots that you're doing. You're looking at the next route you want to do finding a space.

I don't find myself looking at the people around me unless I'm looking to see if someone's going to fall on me. You are all business. Yeah, but I think the other thing is throughout society, we've seen the effects of what happens when we tell people what they should and shouldn't wear, how much clothing they should and shouldn't put on. And I don't think that's something I feel we should continue. Associating attitudes and personality traits or behaviors and stuff like that with what clothing somebody wears or doesn't wear is something we've seen a lot. And it's certainly not something I wouldn't to then bring into climbing. At normal gyms, there's sort of this thread going on where people think female climbers, where a female gym goers wear too little clothing, they relate it to underwear models and stuff like that. And it's really gross some of the things that people think because a woman's wearing a sports bra and maybe some gym shorts.

So I don't particularly like that either. The idea that they're telling women that they're not wearing enough clothing or that they're wearing too tight clothing in normal gyms, I don't feel like I should then go and say, well, you should put your top on. It doesn't affect me. Even if it did, it would be a dislike, not the episode said, it's not something that is affecting my access to there. It's not making me feel intimidated or really shakingly uncomfortable. It's just I think some people just dislike it. And if you dislike it, that's not really anybody's problem other than yourselves.

FRAN: And another person I managed to catch up with in person is Frankie Duer. Frankie did some social media for on the outside back when we started. And Frankie is also Fritz's girlfriend. Fritz told me that Frankie had thoughts on this as well, and I knew that I wanted to speak to her. So here are Frankie's thoughts.

FRANKIE: So personally I'll speak personally for me and then I'll put in a few other viewpoints that I think it would be worth considering as well. So personally for me, if I walk into a climbing gym and I see someone with a top off, it doesn't make me feel uncomfortable to the point that I wouldn't climb it, not something that for me is a barrier to climbing. But being said, if I go into a climbing gym, there is certain things that help me to know that it's a safe space. And so going into a climbing gym and seeing a pride flag is like, it's a tick for me. And it's like, oh, okay, this is probably welcoming. Going and seeing that there are gender neutral toilets, that's another tick. They've thought about that. Seeing that there's a top on policy. For me, it's just like it's a little tick that this is probably going to be a self and welcoming space.

But I do think there are opinions and reasons for having tops on that maybe aren't necessarily getting enough voice time and enough understanding and enough research into them. And I definitely don't want to sort of speak for anybody else. I'll be like, this is definitely what it is. But I would say that it would be great to have more research into these areas. And when we are talking about the top on top off conversation, I've not really heard from many non-binary people in the space talking about their experiences and where the top on or top off works for them. And then I also think about inclusion with that. What if somebody is trans? And I don't always know that assigned female at birth is a great term to use, but in the context of this conversation, I think it's relevant. But what if they're assigned female at birth and they want to climb topless?

Are we going to allow them to climb topless or are we not going to allow them to climb topless? There's like a huge conversation that comes up that means that we have to navigate things in a different way and how do we navigate them outside of a gender binary? And then the only other point I think I'd really like to say, and this is maybe less of a argument and more of a counter-argument, is that one of the main reasons I think people are saying that the top on climbing actually doesn't make a difference is because what the problem is is other people's behavior. That's the issue. And top on climbing wouldn't solve that. And I'd really welcome a conversation around could top on climbing help to contribute that when we know that the clothes that people wear have an impact on how they show up in the world. That's the whole reason that uniforms exist. So then what research is there that says whether or not top on, top off climbing does actually have an impact on the way that people show up on climbing gyms? And I don't have an answer to that, but I would love there to be more actual research into the topic and seeing how it impacts in a tangible way as well as in just listening to people's lived experiences and listening to people's opinions about it.

FRAN: So thank you for those thoughts. Frankie. Interestingly enough, I didn't actually get it on microphone, but Annie was listening to Frankie's speak as well, and she did that. Frankie's ideas actually changed her decision a little bit. And even though Annie said she wasn't personally affected by it, she could see why that tops on policy was a good idea. Once again, if you do have thoughts yourself on this, please still feel free to get in touch with me. I will put any thoughts that come up on the outside website and I will also share them in the newsletter for other people to see. You can send me an email on the outside, get in touch on social media, where on Instagram and Twitter, and that's at on the outside pod. And if you prefer to send a voice note, you can actually send me a message on WhatsApp at 0 7 8 8 3 9 0 5 3 3 6.

And if you send a voice note, you might end up on a future episode of the podcast. That's all for today's episode. I just wanted to share those slightly different views on topless climbing. On the outside is going to be back in your feed very soon with a new episode, and I am very excited about this one. It is a very controversial topic that isn't spoken about that much, but is very close to all of our hearts here at on the outside. So make sure you are subscribed or following the podcast so that you do not miss that one on the outside is produced by me. Thank you very much to Frit, Frankie, Ani, and of course Soraya and Carlos for your thoughts on topless climbing. And of course, thank you all for listening.


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