The other night I went to the monthly lecture at Travellers Club and again the talk was by a young Swedish male explorer. Sad to say I’ve heard his story before, and each time it was the same: The hero conquering the earth. The male hero conquering the earth, to be more precise
So why is it male explorers need to declare themselves the best, the fittest and the strongest adventurers on earth? And why, oh why do they only talk about themselves?
We definitely need more female explorers, because without them we could become extinct.
Let me explain: Recently, I was sat next to a publisher of a famous US outdoor magazine. He sighed and said:
“Every day, as I receive letters and articles from people making expeditions and wanting to sell their material, I ask myself: “Hasn’t adventure come further than this? Is it still just white men with icicles in their beards dishing out the same old silly story?”
I couldn’t agree more. As no doubt do many people in the extreme sports and exploring fraternity. I am so fed up with this macho nonsense! It’s time for a change. We need more female narrators. We need a female perspective and men have to start thinking more like women. I think this is crucial to whether the public remain interested in adventure and exploration in the future, or switch off forever.
What men often fail to note is that there are still considerable differences in how a story can be told. For example, this morning I was searching the internet for stories about Himalayan expeditions. I found this report by a pair of male climbers:
“It’s been a tough and troublesome today. Our backpacks weigh about 60 pounds. Today we struggled for six hours. Tomorrow we will continue and pitch our final camp at 7,500 meters. We won’t sleep much tonight, but we are feeling all right.”
Other than their closest relatives, I find it hard to believe anyone is really interested in this stuff. Personally, I find it mind-numbingly boring. Endless even.
So, let’s compare this with a separate account. This time from an expedition on the same mountain, at the same time, but written by a woman:
“Why am I never satisfied? I’m thinking I should have exercised more. I also think I should have been more mentally prepared. Actually, I’ve been preparing for five years. And trained five times a week. But I don’t think I’m a good enough climber. But that’s the way I am in everyday life as well. I could be better at cooking, decorating, fashion, my job. I could be a better wife, friend, and so on. Still, I am not giving up my dream of climbing an 8,000-meter peak. But will I make it?”
Wonderfully thrilling! The fact that, in this case, the men reached the top and not the woman is unimportant. What is interesting, however, is her story. This is how tomorrow’s adventurers, when they are documenting expeditions need to be writing. This is how people lecturing should be talking. It’s the drama, the personal commitment we want, not another hero story.
An even better way is to recount the story of someone else; men should take inspiration from the achievement of others and not just try to impress with tales of hardship: We’re bored of it!
I worry that if we don’t change this male-dominated culture, we will see fewer professional adventurers and explorers, because less people will want to read about them. Women, save us from extinction!
Female explorers remember: Anything and everything is possible! We’ve known this for the last 150,000 years, maybe even for the last 3.2 million years, ever since the bipedal Lucy began her well-documented excursion…