“Ten of the world’s most dangerous cities for women who travel alone”. I’m staring at the screen and getting angrier by the second, not at the writer who wrote the piece, but at the title. I just can’t seem to get beyond it. I’m hung up on the fact that such an article would even have to be written today. That a woman, by virtue of her gender, has to “travel” differently than a male. What pathetic class of knuckle-dragging idiots caused this? Easy answer… men.
I open the article and it has pictures; male soldiers holding rifles in one country, then another with pictures of other men holding rifles, scowling at the camera. I keep scrolling, more males, more weapons and more warnings; don’t go here, you could be sexually assaulted. I’m sensing a trend. What happened to us? How did we get here? Who in the hell put men in charge of anything? Unfortunately, I need only look back to my childhood to find the answer. I was raised a southern Baptist and attended a church where the bible was interpreted “literally”. In other words, if the bible said “Wives submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:22-3) then the pastor made sure that we understood that this came directly from God, word for word and that was that. I was taught that this is just one of the many helpful “marriage tips” contained in a book that many, including myself, hold dear. Today, I don’t read it as “literal” and simply take these “verses” as the thoughts of writers from a different time and place. I also read Homer, Dante, Mark Twain and Sports Illustrated in the same fashion. I also suggest to you that organized religion, in its many different forms, and the varied literal interpretations of their “book” (Bible, Koran, Torah etc…) are the root cause of many of our problems today. Just turn on CNN.
What does this indictment of religion have to do with travel or the article mentioned above? Everything. Why are women in “danger” to travel alone to these places? Because, since literally “In the beginning”, men have been taught that women are “less than” and that respecting a women is secondary to respecting yourself. Who taught us this? Usually a male waiving a book in the air, his feet firmly planted on a raised platform, while an offering plate travels from row to row. Wait a minute, now you feel offended. You should be. Do you really think it’s not that way today, that women ARE equal? That organized religion plays no part in the formation of today’s laws or has no effect or influence on a woman’s right to choose. I mean, it’s been 98 years since we “let” them have the right to vote. But that was then, this is now…
The world seems to think that we are the most progressive country on the planet. I honestly don’t know what “progressive” means regarding women’s rights but I do know that if we’re the leading example, then the women in “less civilized” countries likely don’t stand a chance. In fairness, I don’t feel that anyone is safe in the article’s listed countries, male or female. The centuries old recipe of men+religion+power has been disastrous and it doesn’t look good going forward. To travel the world freely is to live life to its fullest and this joy should be available to all who desire it. To deny anyone this gift because of a religious belief or some antiquated male-dominated custom is intolerable. Incredibly, some “modern” countries still refuse to allow women the right to even drive a car. To the countries (men) who oppress women, enjoy your 15 minutes, because the passage of time brings change and your days are numbered.
So why does this matter to me, a male? I have had the good fortune and privilege of being surrounded by strong women of character my whole life. The men, not so much. My Mother, Wife and three brilliant Daughters, who are all world travelers, would never tolerate anyone who suggested that they should yield to any man as described above. They would gladly display his head at the end of a pike (ok, maybe that would be me) rather than endure the presence of such a person. And for their strength, perseverance and sheer will to rise above, I am eternally thankful.
It’s amazing how an article about travel evoked such a strong emotion in me regarding the topic of the human condition.