Single White Female
Like the film, a lot of people associate travelling as a single white female with horror stories.
When I mention that I’m leaving Australian borders in many eyes I suddenly become a victim, a helpless girl, a walking target. Because anyway, won’t I get bored?*
To date I have ‘solo female travelled’ in France, India, Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka & the US. In this time I have only had one unwanted physical advance (sac douche à Paris!) and been propositioned money for sex just the one time. Despite these reminders that I’m female, I have never been moved to shrink my world down or be less visible while traveling. I still feel entitled to take up as much public space as a man.
Women travel for all the same reasons as men. Adventure, self-growth, career growth, the Instagram opportunities. The high rate of male-perpetrated violence worldwide is not a reason for me to limit my horizons. If men are committing crimes against women, that’s a man’s problem that men should figure out on their own. It is not my responsibility to hide until they do.
The truth is, traveling alone isn’t about not being able to find somebody to go with you. It’s about not needing somebody else to validate your experiences. If you have the best time of your life but nobody was there to see it, was it really that much fun?
This is one reason that it’s really important to travel alone, to be with just yourself for awhile, and to know you are enough for you. After all, how can you really know yourself until you’ve faced an army officer’s machine gun in a political rally? (Just kidding mum that never happened.**)
If you respect cultural norms and dress codes, connect with the people around you, stay (relatively) sober and stay alert, a female traveller should feel no more victimised than a man should. Realistically when in India I am more concerned by terrorism and malaria than assault.
The world is dangerous, travel is hard, and inevitably the universe will reclaim you and reduce your mass down to a pile of atomic dust.
But if you’re wise enough you may realise you’re just an animated bag of star dust that calls themselves a human, and you somehow won’t feel so hemmed in by invisible geographic borders anymore. Once you’ve made that leap you’ll also realise that gender is just a social construct and fear is only a choice. “Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.”
If being a woman or being alone are your reasons for staying home, I hope you follow my blog and that I wear away your excuses. Ignore the warnings because you are not a victim. Women are not defenceless, women are not shy, women should not feel that our world’s are smaller than men’s. We do not need permission to be alone. Flip the bird and book your ticket.
* Being alone with my thoughts is like being with a runaway train. It’s exhausting, but I’m never bored or lonely.
** Just kidding again, it did happen.