Fighting the Stigma as a Female Traveler

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“Aren’t you worried about getting kidnapped?”

“Don’t end up like those girls in Taken.”

“Have you heard about that girl who got murdered during a trip?”

I find myself struggling to respond to questions like those listed above. Do I awkwardly laugh it off? Do I go into my full feminist mentality? Or do I simply shrug it off as if it doesn’t bother me? There’s no right answer because questions like these should not be asked to begin with.

Women constantly have to be more aware of our surroundings, more likely to prove ourselves to others, and more inclined to explain our decisions to everyone. So, when I decide that I want to travel as a female, whether it be in a group or solo, I don’t feel the need to go through a series of negative questions. We live our lives every day facing opposition and fighting against stereotypes. We do not need that to occur when trying to do something that makes us happy.

Are there risks involved in traveling as a female? Of course. We’re all aware of this. However, there are risks involved in just being a female in your hometown. What we won’t do is live a life full of fear. We will not be scared into not taking part in something that we love. It’s as if those who question our decisions are waiting for a moment where they can exclaim, “I told you so” if something goes wrong.

When people “joke” with me about getting kidnapped or worse while traveling, I don’t think they realize how offensive it is. Do you think I don’t make smart decisions? Do you think the horrible thought doesn’t cross my mind? Why put a damper on something I’m so excited and passionate about? I understand that people are concerned about my well being and safety, but questions like those ignore the bigger problem.

As a woman, I am on guard about my surroundings on a daily basis. When I’m in a new area, those senses are even greater. I take precaution on all decisions I make when it comes to travel. I do everything I possibly can to watch out for myself. So, why don’t people focus on the actual issue? Like how some males think it’s okay to take advantage of women, to cat call women, to make unwanted passes at women . When rape culture and victim blaming continues to exist then the issue isn’t females wanting to travel. Be an advocate to speak up and against these crimes. Teach young boys to respect women. Defend victims instead of questioning their decisions.

So, to all those women out there who continuously question if they should travel more often, especially solo, I say do it. Don’t allow fear to get in the way of fulfilling that wanderlust. Don’t allow others to scare you or discourage you.

The stigma needs to end.

 

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