A Broad Abroad
By Emily Candelario
An article came across my desktop this morning that struck a chord with me. It starts off with a headline that any women, filled with dread of the current political climate but yet an intense sense of wanderlust would decidedly want to click on. The article begins by explaining the nature of the piece, how it began as a natural topic between women on their message boards and so this ‘list’ came to be. A list of “Women’s Travel Safety Tips”, that goes on to showcase an assortment of actions and preventions in which many of them have used while abroad. I read them, made mental notes of a couple, raised my eyebrows at a handful and lastly, became increasingly angry. Half of these ‘tips’ are common sense to any traveler regardless of gender who’s been in densely populated cities; split up you cash, keep ahold of your bearings, lock your door and possessions, know your destination, etc. Same goes for whichever city you’ve found yourself in, no matter if it’s New York, Mumbai, Paris, or Hong Kong. But what gave me pause was the number of women who had mentioned how while traveling alone they’d been harassed, assaulted or threatened and had to resort to things such as acting erratic to avoid confrontation, or even paying hotel staff as leverage for their safety.
Along with those, they gave a number of preventive measures such as the need to “blend in” since women are likely to be blamed for their own harassment or assault because of the clothing they chose to wear. Another was to opt for transportation that is easily tracked, like Uber to avoid the likelihood of being abducted. The lengths that women have to go to feel safe or be able to exist as an individual whether abroad or at home, is ludicrous. Being a woman in NYC, I am constantly barraged with the same fears. Walking home from the train at night, cutting through the park after work to meet someone for dinner, taking a taxi or ride service alone; and I felt all of those same fears while traveling on my own. Women are taught from the beginning that the world is a scary place and I’m sick of it. After living abroad alone myself, I’ve discovered that there is far more kindness than bad out there. But the fact that a woman has to be prepared in certain ways and succumb to her fears has to change if we expect to live in a world in which we can be equals. Women as a collective need to continue to call men out for the environment that they’ve boxed us into, because without their help it’ll never change. We need men of all forms to be allies, we need them to step up and recognize the world that they’ve created and take accountability for it.