A woman on the roof of the world or on Wanda Rutkiewicz’s story and media image
The story of Wanda Rutkiewicz is extraordinary for several reasons. It is a story of a woman for whom her passion was the most important thing in life. She subordinated all her life to this passion — the mountains. In order to reach the summits she desired, she had to battle not only her own weaknesses, fear or power of nature, but also common beliefs which stereotypically defined the role of women in society. Women who, through climbing, “ventured” into the territories usually occupied by men often provoked feelings of misunderstanding, reluctance, irritation and even opposition among the public at large, especially men. However, Rutkiewicz went beyond many widely-held beliefs. Her independence, skills and conscious creation of her own image (also thanks to her skilful use of the media’s interest) were admirable. Although her journey ended tragically, through her activities in the high mountains she made history of not just Polish mountaineering but also women’s mountaineering.
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