International Women’s Day: A Celebration?

I am fucking depressed.

And I think rightly so. Next week is March 8th. You know what March 8th is? International Women’s Day. Yes, the day the entire world stops and declares that women are entitled to equal rights. Which of course, we are.

But all I can see around me is fucking hypocrisy.

It’s March. This year is only two months old, and already seven women in Australia have been killed in horrendous acts of violence. In 2016, the death tolls ran to 71 women. Destroy The Joint estimate that around 80% of these deaths were a direct result of spousal abuse.  We live in a world where actual rapists are walking free. A world where women are being raped and killed by men who have previously spent time in prison for sexual and physical violence against women. A world where my choices to travel to countries that some men are intimidated by are judged as poor choices. A world where I am told I am “unrapeable” on the daily. A world where a woman who survives strangulation by her partner is 8 times more likely to die by his hand than another attacker. A world where the President of the USA doesn’t even try to cover up his previous assaults of women. Where Australian political commentors are allowed to publish pieces of crap like this and this. A world where ex-leaders of major political parties excuse domestic violence as a “coping mechanism“. A world where we are still missing 219 school girls in Nigeria. A world where funding cuts to women’s refuge has the Australian Prime Minister claiming that he started the conversation about violence against women. A world where I can’t even sit in a pop-up bar in my city without some dickhead telling my lesbian friend he would like her to blow him just to check she really is a lesbian. A world where women are still protesting their right to choose what happens to their own bodies. A world where we are still fighting to be recognised for equal work by equal pay. A world where I have to see these piece of shit camper vans all over my city. A world in which I can’t state my choice not to procreate without judgement – and a vast majority of it from other women. A world where I’m writing posts like this and this and this.

I am tired. I am so tired of fighting, of cajoling, of pointing out subtle misogyny. Of dating guys who don’t realise how sexist they are. How homophobic they are. Of reprimanding the uneducated and the misinformed on Twitter. Of waking up anxious about what I’m going to find in my Facebook messages or Twitter feed from overnight. I am t i r e d.

Just once, I want someone to stand up for me.

For my rights.

Be my voice.

Slay my dragons.

Just. One. Fucking. Time.

To those who pity me for travelling alone

Dear every person in the world,

Please stop looking at me with those pitying glances in restaurants when you see me eating by myself. Please stop giving me furtive worried looks from behind your menu. If you’re a man, no I do not need or want your company for the evening. Seriously, you don’t even know me – please don’t judge. Instead, reflect on how much more awesome my life is compared to yours.

I choose to travel solo. I choose to live my life as a free woman, in a world where women are too frequently questioned for exploring and wanting to learn. I know, it’s very strange of me. Maybe I’ll buy five cats and be the crazy cat lady.

I am not lonely; I am alone. By choice. And I love it.

This morning, I woke up and stayed in bed for an hour. Then I made myself a cup of tea, the way I like it – and didn’t risk it being the worst tea ever, because I MADE IT. No one makes my tea the way I like it.

Last month I spent two weeks in Sri Lanka, alone but not lonely. In years gone by I have travelled through more than 50 different countries; sometimes with a friend but mostly alone. I havemade spur of the moment travel choices, because I don’t have to check in with another person. My money is MY money, and I can and will spend it on what I choose. I don’t have to wait for someone to ok my choices, I just make them and go. I have never lacked for an experience, never missed an opportunity, never felt as though I was missing out on something simply because I had to wait for someone else to give the final clearance on a decision that should have been mine solely to make in the first place.

So please, spare me your pity. I neither need nor want it. Keep it. You’ll most likely need it before I do.

Love,

A totally fulfilled 30-something woman.

Next_time_a_stranger_talks_to_me_when_I_amm_alone_I_will_look_at_them_shocked_and_just_whisper_quietly_You_can_see_me_

To the men who abused me…

TRIGGER WARING: Sexual assault, gendered violence

So I know I’ve been very neglectful lately. I have a myriad of excuses, but basically I’ve just been super angry.

In the last few weeks we have seen the US election, and watched as they voted to minimise women, minorities, POC, LGBT, young people and other marginalised groups. I scrolled Facebook and Twitter in shock and nearly had a car crash when I saw the news notification on my phone that Trump had won. In Australia we have seen further closures of women’s shelters and havens for victims. We have seen the minister for women cancel meetings with state leaders to discuss the violence epidemic we live with every day. We have seen the 68th woman this year be murdered in an act of gendered violence.

So today, in honour of White Ribbon Day here in Australia I want to share a couple of very personal stories with you. Please note the trigger warning at the top, and proceed with caution. These are outside of my normal “Letters…” format, but I’m sure you don’t mind.

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE MAN WHO SEXUALLY ASSAULTED ME

I can’t even write an opening “Dear X” on this letter. You know who you are. You exist in the periphery of my friendship circles, not completely one of the crowd but there are not enough degrees of separation that you’re no longer invited to big events. I just saw you, at that wedding a few months ago. The wedding I had to bring a date to so I would have excuses not to be alone with you.

I once counted you as a friend. Maybe not a close friend, but definitely a good time friend. You were the guy I would call when I wanted to go out dancing, or for a night on the town. The summer we met I had a lot I was dealing with; a relationship breakdown and grieving an abortion not the least of them. In some ways you helped me through that. You gave me a space in which I could go to in order to forget what else was happening in my life.

You also gave me an alcohol problem and a scar that will never heal.

We were having a couple of drinks at my house, do you remember? There were a bunch of us there, all chatting away getting ready for a night out. The cabs arrived and we headed out to the club. We were all dancing, having a great time. And then there were more drinks. And then some more. And more dancing, more laughs. There was some close dancing. Some shots. The rest of that night is kind of a blur for me, but I remember going home at some stage. We went to a friend’s house to stay since she lived closer to the nightclub and that way a taxi would be cheaper on student budgets. I remember going to bed, and I remember placing a pillow length-ways down the bed, subconsciously I think as some kind of protection. I remember you cuddling up behind me, kissing the back of my neck.

I remember myself thinking, “Oh no. What is happening?”

I remember saying no, more than once. I remember pushing you away, not hard but still enough that you would know I didn’t want to do this. I then I remember distinctly making a decision to just let you so that you would leave me alone.

That decision means that what you did is not rape. Because I let you. I let you take my clothes off, and I let you inside me. I didn’t want to, but you persisted. You shushed my concerns, and begged when I said no. You kissed my neck, my arms, my breasts, my stomach. You held my hands down so I couldn’t push you away anymore, I couldn’t protest. And then I gave up. I shouldn’t have, I should have fought harder, I should have pushed you away. I should have protested louder and made you hear me.

Today, I bury this event in the back of my memories, in a box that will never be opened because it contains all my dark times. It surfaces only when I see you. When you pop up unexpectedly in my Facebook timeline. I deeply regret my decision to just let you in that night. But it’s done now, and nothing can change that.

What I can change is how I proceed with my life, and how I support women and girls in the same experience. I will never again make a decision to just give up and get it over with. I will never again allow a man to ignore my protests. I will never again quiet myself to placate a man.

 

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY BROTHER, ABUSER OF WOMEN
Little Brother,

I watched you come into this world, all chubby legs and big brown eyes and vowed to myself that I would be the best big sister. And I failed.

I failed you when you started school, and you were the fat kid. When you were teased and bullied mercilessly by my friend’s younger siblings. When you got to high school, and the bullying continued, I did nothing to stop it. When you discovered drugs, I should have been there. I should have knocked some sense into you, and made you realise that this wasn’t the way out. When our mother died, I promised her I would look after you. I would make sure you got away from that scene, from the drugs and the drinking and the same crowd. That you would get a job, find a new group of friends and would be settled. Because all she wanted for all of us was for us to be happy.

And then you destroyed it.  You took my promises, and you shattered them. Along with my TV, mum’s vase, her fine china and my sense of self. You took all your rage and unleashed it on me. Literally the only person in your life left trying to help you, and you destroyed me.

I have scars from my life that will never heal. Brother’s aren’t supposed to add to those. And so, no I don’t feel guilty for failing you.

The day you beat me, I was scared. Today, two years on, I am still terrified. I check my rear vision mirror when driving, not because I’m watching traffic, but because I’m keeping an eye out for you. I double take when I see a guy pull up at the service station when I’m getting fuel because I think he looks like you from behind. I changed the number plates on my car (after you stole it and I got it back again) so that you wouldn’t realise it was me in case you did pull up behind me in traffic. I move constantly, not because I want to but because I don’t want you to find me. Family, long time friends, and even our own sister have no idea where I live because I’m scared they might tell you. I hide information about my life from my own sister because I’m worried you’ll find out.

But I have you worked out. All your rage comes from your perception that you haven’t been given the things you feel you are entitled to. Let me break this down for you, you are entitled to exactly nothing. I want to give you a blank piece of paper, because that would be a conclusive list of exactly everything the world owes you. Yes, you had a shitty childhood – surprise, you’re not alone. In fact, yours was better than most.

I’m sorry you feel that the world has failed you. I’m sorry you cannot help but hurt the people who have cared and tried to help you. I am sorry you have failed so miserably at the one thing you should have been good at – being my brother. I am sorry that we will never rekindle any kind of relationship, I really am. I’m sorry that your mum died, but guess what? So did mine. And I never once thought it was appropriate to beat the living shit out of anyone, and then steal their car.

I am not sorry for my anger. I am not guilty for my failings, because I am human. We err. I am not sorry for my fear. I am sorry that you let this happen. You are a grown ass man, who made a conscious decision to beat the shit out of his sister. You continued to make decisions that would see you nearly lose your life over the next two years.

I really hope you’ve learned from this. I really hope you don’t do it again. I really hope you take the help you’re being offered now from our sister and really effect change in your life.

But I want you to do that far away from me. The possibility for change in your life doesn’t require me to reconsider my decision for distance.

Good luck, and goodbye little brother.

 

To parents of ALL teenagers

Parents,

There has been a lot of discussion in the media over the past few weeks about consent, and how we teach it. It has been wrapped up in talk of Brock Turner, whether he really is guilty, and whether alcohol and promiscuous behaviour is to blame – but it has been there.

Have you ever had a conversation with your son or daughter about these issues? I am not a parent, so I can’t say when is the perfect age to have this conversation, but I am a human woman in this world I know in my soul that this is a conversation that needs to happen while children are still learning about the world.

We need to be having conversations with our children about consent, but not just with our boys as one open letter I read this week suggests. Girls need to learn that as much as they have to give consent, they need to feel empowered to take it away at any time. Boys need to be told “I love you and I need you to know that no matter how a woman dresses or acts, it is not an invitation to cat call, taunt, harass or assault her.” Boys and girls both need to be taught that virginity is not a prize to be won or offered, and that sleeping with someone does earn or lose you points (based on your gender; boys earn and girls lose). Girls need to be taught that their sexual experiences or lack of don’t dictate their worth, and that just because someone buys them dinner doesn’t mean anything is owed.

I can tell you that we are having the wrong conversations with our daughters. From the time we can walk and talk, instead of teaching our boys not to rape, we teach our girls to minimise themselves to avoid attracting the wrong attention. These conversations are had by loving parents, just like you, who want to protect their children. It comes from a place of care, a place of love and support. More importantly than that though, they come from a place where 100% of the responsibility lies at the feet of the victim. Instead of teaching our kids to be decent humans, we teach them that indecency is going to happen, and instead to safeguard against it. Instead of telling our kids that “boys will be boys” we need to teach them that abusive, manipulative behaviour needs to be called out. By both sides.

Parents will tell me that it’s not fair. That currently there are creepy people in the world and you need to protect your kids from them. You need to teach your daughters how to protect themselves from creepy men. And I agree, there are some fucking creepy people out there. Trust me I know, because most of them live on Twitter and repeatedly send me lovely notes of threatened abuse.

But who raised them? Who taught them to be creepy?

xoxo

Stop saying these things to women who travel alone

If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times. I am single, and I am happy. I like my own company, especially when I am traveling. I like exploring new places and meeting new people and having those connections that a momentary. My choice to travel alone does not make me sad, reckless or lonely. It makes me an adventuring badass of a woman who refuses to wait until she finds The One to have adventures.

Since I was in high school I have wanted to explore the world. I’ve spent my young adult years saving and scheming for grand adventures for myself. I’ve traveled extensively, both alone and with friends, to more than 50 countries spanning most of Europe, Asia and Africa.

I enjoy spending time with myself, especially when I’m away from home. I love being in pursuit of the feeling of wonder that strikes when you’re walking alone down a foreign street, following an intoxicated scent of something baking or roasting, being mesmerized by the architecture that turns simple apartment buildings into large scale artwork. I do enjoy traveling with friends, but even when I am with my favourite travel buddies a crave solo time. I prefer planning adventures alone (and my friends all know that to travel with me means they will get zero input into the adventures). It leaves me open to adjustments, without having to consult someone else. I can embrace the local scene, practice the language, order huge amounts of food for lunch so I can try all the local delicacies. And I can do all this without fear of judgement.

There are a few things I wish you would all stop telling me though. There are some opinions you should just keep to yourselves. These things you say to me, they’re just insulting.

WAIT… YOU’RE GOING THERE? ALONE? LIKE ALONE, ALONE?

Why is it so scandalous that I would want to travel solo? Women have been adventuring alone for years, I am not breaking new ground in doing so. I am an adult, and I’ve been taking care of myself for a few years now. I speak two languages, and parts of others. I am intelligent and perfectly capable of thinking for myself. I mean, I am wearing my pjs at midday as I type this, but it’s Sunday, and what else are Sundays for?

Relaxing in Africa between safaris

BUT YOU KNOW PEOPLE THERE RIGHT?

No. And so what? Part of the joy of traveling is meeting new people. Sometimes I am fortunate enough to meet up with old friends in far away places, and I have a fairly extensive network of people across the globe that I love to see. But even when I surprised Mrs Ayla at Christmas in London, I still escaped from London and spent time alone in York and Bath. Meeting up with people I already know overseas doesn’t make me feel safer or more comfortable when traveling to a certain place.

BUT YOU DON’T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE!

People travel for different reasons, and one of the reasons I do it is to learn. I know more phrases in more languages than I can count. I can order food in most European languages, and if I can’t then I’ll say it again. I am an intelligent woman who can read a phrasebook. I’m crafty, I’ll figure it out. I can get around just fine with a guidebook, my iPhone and a G&T.

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SO YOU’RE NOT GOING WITH A FRIEND? BOYFRIEND?

I don’t understand how you’re not getting this yet?

OH MY GOSH! YOU’RE SO BRAVE!

OK. I am a lot of things. I am resourceful, independent and strong. I am a fucking badass. I am curious, confident and solitary. I am not brave. When I made my first foray into the world I was terrified. I was scared witless. I had no idea what to expect. But I went anyway. Being brave is NOT a prerequisite to travel solo. If you wait until you are brave enough you will never go.

YOU ARE SO LUCKY! I WISH I COULD…

Shut up. I am not lucky. I work really fucking hard to travel as much as I do. I chose travel When you all chose marriage, houses and babies, I chose travel. I made it my career, I sacrificed and I made it happen. You could have to, except you chose a life of debt and screaming children and a husband who mentally checks out after a few years. You don’t like your life? Change it. You love your life? Great, stop judging mine.

YOU ARE TOTALLY EAT, PRAY, LOVING!

Fuck off. Just fuck off. I am not a divorcee who is bored with her very privileged life. I am not traveling in response to a trying life event, although I have had plenty of those. I am always open to the possibility of meeting my Javier Bardem…. but I am traveling alone because I LOVE TO.

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BE SAFE. THE WORLD IS DANGEROUS

*thumbs up* Cheers bro. I’ll make sure to put my wallet away now instead of having is dangling off my rhinestone belt while I flash my diamond necklaces and my tiara all over. This advice you’re giving me also empowers me to avoid getting into cars with strange men, because how would I know not to do that if it weren’t for you!

MAYBE YOU’LL MEET SOMEONE WHILE YOU’RE AWAY?

Or maybe I won’t. And that’s ok. Because that is not what travel is about, and that is not why I do it alone.

Feminist Friday: What a fucking week!

There is a lot to cover this week in the world of feminism. Women have been kicking goals and taking names all over the place, and I can’t even keep up. Instead of addressing each of these issues in separate posts, I’ve decided to smash it all out in one, because women will continue to rock the fucking casbah and I’ll have more inspiration for you next week.

BROCK TURNER, VICTIM BLAMING AND BEING EVERY WOMAN

A brave woman who  has blown me away this week, and is currently going by the moniker “Emily Doe” has accidentally become the poster girl for victim blaming. Emily was assaulted by Brock Turner, who you will all have seen smiling at you from your screens with all his white, upper-middle-class privilege screaming out for the world to see. I’ve been posting about this on Facebook as new parts of the story unfold, and what I’m seeing is a fucking joke. This 21 year old kid has basically used this experience to have a cry about how his life is now all fucked up because he raped a girl (Emily Doe) behind a dumpster and left her lying there, naked and exposed for the entire world to see. He says he’s sorry. He’s not sorry. He might be sorry he got caught, and he might be sorry he’s going to jail, but he’s not actually sorry he did it. He got handed a sentence of six months, which is also a fucking joke. He will only actually serve around three months of this sentence, which is more than what 97% of rapists serve, and that is no victory. It doesn’t make me feel like Emily Doe got justice for what happened to her, and it gives me zero confidence in the American judicial system.

The law is supposed to protect the innocent. The weak. The violated. In this case it is protecting the strong, the rich and the powerful. Brock Turner is a kid who comes from money, his family are obviously wealthy enough to hire the kind of lawyers who are great at victim blame and shame. His entire defense seems to have been made up of character statements and letters from old friends claiming that he is different to “normal rapists” and that he only did it because he was drunk, and that his sentencing was only a guilty verdict because political correctness.

Now, I’m only going to lay this out once so listen carefully. ALCOHOL IS NOT TO BLAME HERE.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been drunk a few (thousand) times in my life. I’ve been drunk in the presence of some pretty shady guys (I can say that, they’re my oldest friends. They’re dodgy sometimes, but they are generally good people), and I’ve done some stupid shit when I’ve been drunk. I’ve even made some pretty terrible decisions when I’ve been drunk. Most of the time those decisions are along the lines of “Yes, stripping naked and running into the ocean is a BRILLIANT idea, who cares about riptides and sharks and drowning and shit LETS DO IT!” and when I wake up the next morning I remember exactly why that is a stupid idea. But alcohol is not the problem.

Here is the problem. Some guys are entitled pricks, and they’re entitled pricks because all their lives they’ve been told how wonderful they are and their coaches, fathers, teachers, and other authority figures have taught them they can have whatever they want. Alcohol has the capacity, deep down, to unlock the what we’ve always wanted to do. Those hidden desires, the ones we think other people will judge us for. For me, that means dancing like an idiot, or running naked where I probably shouldn’t (remember for next time, night time + beach = freezing). But even at my most intoxicated and foolish, I’ve never lost sight of the inherent morals and values I have been taught. And that includes the fact that hurting other people is wrong.

This is what a rapist looks like

Entitled pricks like Turner aren’t taught that. Or they are, because everyone who is sober and rational knows that raping women isn’t something society is ok with, but their entitlement overpowers that when all other logic has flown the coop. They were taught that they can have what they want, when they want, including women. And that’s called being a man. Brock Turner thought he was entitled to a little “action” any way he could get it, and he thought that long before he got drunk. It was only after he was drunk and saw Emily Doe lying behind that dumpster passed out that he thought “Why not?” The alcohol didn’t introduce that thought, it unlocked it. That thought: “I can take whatever I want, including her”, was planted and watered by a whole, rotten village.

It is right that we shame him, and his father, and the friend that came to his defense, and the judge, and every other entitled prick we meet. It is right, because what they have taught him is lack of compassion, lack of understanding and lack of emotive thought. They have taught him that this behavior is inherently ok, and for that they need to be shamed. They need to understand their role is what he has done. I am not excusing him, he is an adult and must take responsibility for his own actions; but he is a product of his environment and for that I cannot excuse his father or any other role model in his life.

Emily Doe has been incredibly courageous in the light of all these victim blaming and shaming statements. She has allowed her victim impact statement to be published by the media in full, and in doing so she has opened her soul to the world. We don’t know who she is, but she stands for all women who have ever been or ever will be assaulted, raped or depraved in any way. She has become an accidental role model and pillar of strength for every woman in the world. Her victim impact statement almost broke the internet, and she should be proud to know that she hasn’t gone unheard. Unlike so many women before her, she will make a difference. How we view rape and victim blaming will shift because of her.

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RACE FOR PRESIDENT & RAINING GLASS

GUYS! The US presidential election process is complicated and weird for those who don’t live there – but huge news! Hilary Clinton is officially the Democratic party leader, and therefore actually in the running for President now. It definitely comes down to her or Trump, now that she’s knocked poor Bernie Sanders out of the running. Do you remember when Obama was named President? People cried. They cheered. They ran in the streets celebrating. Why? Because they broke history, and for the first time they elected a black man. And now they’re doing it again. Hilary has a chance to be the first female POTUS, and you don’t have to love her or her politics to be excited by that. We are witnessing history in the making.

Eight years ago, when Clinton conceded to Obama in the race to the finish she said “We weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time.” And now, even if she doesn’t win she will still be the only female to have represented a major party in a general election in US history. Again, she will be the only female to have EVER LED A MAJOR PARTY.

On Tuesday night, as her victory was announced she stood to thank her supporters and said, Tonight’s victory is not about one person. It belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible. In our country, it started right here in New York, a place called Seneca Falls, in 1848. When a small but determined group of women, and men, came together with the idea that women deserved equal rights.”

run the world

We teach our young girls they can be anything they want to be, but do we really mean it? In the US women and girls have never seen another woman give the State of the Union address. They’ve never seen a woman appoint a Supreme Court justice. They’ve never seen a woman address the nation as Commander in Chief in a time of crisis. They’ve never seen someone who could actually get an abortion holding the power to veto federal anti-abortion legislation. They’ve never looked up on the walls in history classes and seen a woman’s face up there alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Never has our gender been equated with the ability to lead the country they live in. They’ve never seen that glass ceiling broken, and it is maddening. And now, Hillary has done it. It’s raining shatter glass over all her haters, and she’s probably loving every minute of it. And so she should.

There are times I don’t love her. There are things she does that I want to yell and shake sense into her. She loves big business, and she’s far too fond of tax breaks for those guys. I don’t anticipate that the things I hate about her will ever change, my politics are far to left and socialist for her. But my personal feelings on her politics don’t change the fact that there has never been a female leader of a political party until now. It matters because a woman first ran for President 144 years ago, and now one of us might finally make it.

MORE VICTIM BLAME & FAMOUS MEN

I’m sure you all saw that Johnny Depp’s wife accused him of beating her and now they’re getting a divorce. What you might have missed was the part where comedian (and I use the term very loosely) Doug Stanhope used the story in an article he wrote and accused Amber Heard of blackmailing Depp. In response to this, Heard’s lawyers filed a defamation suit against Stanhope and more than twenty of his associated. The thing I love about this the most is that all the money she would win in damage claims from this one lawsuit, she’s going to give to a women’s shelter in Arizona. It’s written into the suit. So all the judge has to do is say yes to Heard, and Stanhope will be forced to pay money to this shelter. I can’t think of a more fitting punishment. #IStandWithAmber

WOMEN STANDING UP FOR THEMSELVES

Like I said, women have been kicking goals all week and I could not be prouder. The woman that this attack I am about to share with you wants to remain anonymous, but this Facebook post went viral this week. In a week of big female news, this anonymous girl’s story was heard far and wide. And women are outraged. We are outraged for one reason, because it could have been any one of us, at any given time.

“Today, I talked back to a man who touched me in the street without my permission. It doesn’t matter what I said. What matters is that he grabbed me by the back of the head, called me a whore, and threw me into a wall. Because I stood up for myself *after* he put his hands on me.

The details are irrelevant. I will tell you that this happened in the middle of the afternoon. I will tell you that there were onlookers who did nothing to help. I will tell you that as I crawled around on the sidewalk, feeling for my dropped glasses, nobody came to help. I will tell you that as I walked away, shaking, bleeding from my mouth, nobody offered to walk me home.

I will tell you that I sobbed in the arms of a friend, and asked him to help me invent a story to tell the rest of my friends, because I was so ashamed. I will tell you I blamed myself for being too mouthy. I will tell you I’m still crying.

I will tell you this isn’t the first time. That I anticipate it will not be the last. I expect to get hurt again. I expect to be hit by more men in my lifetime. I expect to be called names and threatened. I anticipate it. It has happened enough for me to anticipate it. And still, I was not prepared.

I will tell you I was terrified to post about this for fear of being called more names. Things like “over-dramatic” and “attention whore”. I was terrified to even tell anyone what happened. Because I assumed I would be blamed. I will tell you that I’m a tough cookie and a badass woman, and I still can’t help but blame myself.

This is 2016. I was attacked by a man, and I am preparing myself to be asked what I did to deserve it, and told what I should have done to prevent it. This needs to be talked about. My story is not even a little unique. ‪#‎notallmen‬ helps no one, when ‪#‎somemen‬ are all it takes.”

 

That’s all from me for today. Just remember ladies, be kind to one another. We have enough problems in the world just being women without adding girl on girl hate to the pile.

Much love
xox

Solo female travel is an act of feminism

It seems that almost every time I start to plan a new trip, some well meaning soul will decide it is their obligation to forewarn me of the dangers of solo travel as a woman. They tell me stories of urban legends, freak accidents, and legitimate cultural quirks that I’m usually already aware of.

The first time I traveled alone I went to Thailand. I was a woman, alone in Bangkok and it was the single most uplifting thing I had done in my life to that point. I booked my ticket with a travel agent, and started planning and packing my bags. I told my mum what my plans were, I expected she would be proud of me. Instead, she reacted the way any worried parent might. “Who are you going with? Where will you stay? What will you do? Will you be safe?”I had no answers for her questions, and as my departure date grew closer and the answers still didn’t come she became increasingly anxious. All I knew was that Bangkok was the gateway to South East Asia, and it was calling for me.

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I answered boldly. I went confidently forward, and looking back on that first time by myself I laugh at all the extra precautions I took simply because I wanted to be safe, as a woman. We are conditioned from the time we are able to walk and talk to never go anywhere alone, because it’s not safe for girls.

The truth is you are just as safe or unsafe in any city in the world.

Growing up, we are conditioned to never go alone anywhere. We can’t walk to school alone, we can’t catch a taxi alone. Simply being a woman is to be a target for rape and assault. And the stats back it up, we are more likely to be the target of gendered violence. Now I’m gonna say it again – because no doubt someone will make a comment if I don’t. I am NOT advocating that men do not experience violence, I am simply stating that the TYPE of violence experienced by men is different to that experienced by women.

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My moments traveling through what are now considered off limited countries – places like Syria, Jordan and Egypt or Kenya and Tanzania – have been both empowering and liberating. My travel experiences remind me that being a woman isn’t a cautionary tale. We are the substance that every living thing is made out of. Women are life’s essence and we deserve and are entitled to be anywhere we want to be.

While the reality of being safe is obviously important, being safe does not negate the importance of independence, intelligence and confidence when traveling abroad. And it should not stop you from going. Those things people tell you, about how dangerous it is or how reckless you’re being or asking why you won’t take friends with you? I find it generally stems from jealousy. And for me, that’s everyone else issue – not mine.

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So don’t make it yours. Don’t listen to those that would restrict you and keep you close. Roam free little birds, let the wind take you far and wide. Experience the joy that is travelling alone. Bear witness to the global female solidarity you’ll find in women all over the world.