Solo Female Travel is a topic that I haven’t written about until now because there are so many similar articles floating around. However, I have realized that my angle may be a little different from those articles mentioned. When I was at university, one of my main topics of study was Women & Gender Studies. This means that I spent countless hours delving into the inequality that all of humanity faces on a day-to-day basis, on both a micro and macro sociological level.
I was able to relate to and experience these inequalities, especially when I began traveling alone. I received questioning looks and concerned inquiries from those I shared my travel plans with. Often I hear “Do you feel safe?” — “Maybe you should take someone?” — “Be careful.” All of these examples aren’t popular questions asked to solo male travelers I have met on the road. These gender specific warnings wouldn’t exist without the concept of rape culture.
The term rape culture is defined as the normalization and pervasiveness of rape in society because of generalized societal attitudes.
A clear example of rape culture is the fear people paired with females traveling alone. For a woman to stay home instead of embracing her wanderlust is perpetuating and giving power to the cultural mindset that traveling is unsafe because she could be taken.
Traveling on my own has taught me SO much more than I ever could have imagined. Not only that, but the areas I have grown in are ones I could have never developed at home or in a classroom. Time after time I chat with friends and acquaintances about struggles in their lives and it is clear to me that they could learn as much as I have about themselves but they have the weight of fear on their shoulders holding them back. I am so thankful to have escaped that same fear. There are many women and girls do not realize fear is something to escape and they may go a lifetime never experiencing the vast & beautiful world lessons awaiting us all.
Another fascinating example of rape culture found on www.everydayfeminism.com explains that women are told to take measures to prevent rape instead of men (and women) being told not to rape. This places the responsibility on the victim rather than the criminal. This responsibility as a potential victim is exactly what is scaring women enough to stay home and miss out on their wanderlust. Realizing this unfair blame-game has sparked my creativity for ways to help eradicate rape culture that YOU and I can participate in.
My Personal List:
- Call out those who joke about violence or use the word rape flippantly in any context.
- Lock and hold eye contact with men (or whoever) that think it is okay to stare at you (or a female you’re with).
- After a mini-background check, I often stay with male Couchsurfing hosts who have opened their homes to travelers. Almost every time I am their first female guest. All of these guys have been thankful because the lack of female travelers has made them feel criminalized despite their efforts to fight against the culture.
- Do not be ruled by fear.
- Call out the scumbags that say creepy things to you or give you unwanted attention (to put it politely). If you see someone experiencing this help them out and back them up. This creepy attention is an assertion of power that drastically decreases when they are revealed and embarrassed.
I love traveling alone because by doing so I face my fears. Growing up, I was always afraid of any type of risk. Strangely enough, I adopted the ability to make myself to take reasonable risks and face my fears along the way. Traveling solo is liberating, exciting, and makes one grow in unimaginable ways! Although my inner self is still always skeptical, I have yet to be disappointed after facing a fear. Travel has truly changed my life for the better and I am so happy that by doing so I am helping stop rape culture.
***Because I know that this is a serious topic I want to be clear and say that by writing about the eradication of rape culture does not mean that I am not promoting travel safety along the way. I take a multitude of safety precautions and encourage all travelers to do so as well. And by all travelers I mean all travelers, not only females. Traveling is for everyone and shouldn’t exclude people because of their gender.