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A reminder that women need to act like spies in enemy territory at all times

(43 Posts)
AskBasil Sat 09-Jul-16 09:43:43

Travel tips for when you are out on your own

I'm not knocking these tips. Some of them are useful. But it's interesting that in the article and the comments, nowhere is the problem mentioned - male violence.

StealthPolarBear Sat 09-Jul-16 09:52:21

Surely she is paranoid! I travel a lot, alone and never worry about who gets into an elevator with me or sitting alone in a restaurant.
also her advice about driving into a stationary object...is that official or has she made it up?

StealthPolarBear Sat 09-Jul-16 09:54:52

Just be aware of your surroundings as a normal adult is. And as you say try to avoid the bad men whose fault all this actually is

VestalVirgin Sat 09-Jul-16 10:03:04

She is not paranoid, that would imply that her fears pathologic. One might say she is more cautious than you would be. There is always a decision to be made between safety and quality of life.

Though this seems to be a guide for travelling in Europe and the US - for women travelling to the Middle East and such on their own, I read the advice to get a wedding ring and some photos of husband and children (doesn't matter who the guy on the photo is, you just have to be able to show male strangers that you're taken).

It is ridiculous how much work we have to invest just to keep ourselves somewhat safe from male violence.

StealthPolarBear Sat 09-Jul-16 10:07:13

True. Suppose I'm thinking of London travelodges. But she seems to spend a lot of time assuming strangers want to harm her.

VestalVirgin Sat 09-Jul-16 10:27:27

But she seems to spend a lot of time assuming strangers want to harm her.

Well, male strangers do want to harm us. We just don't know who they are.
She's like the people who never touch raw meat with any kitchen equipment that is not sterilized afterwards - it is superfluous 95% of the time, but in 5% of cases it might save your life.

On the topic of acting like a spy on enemy territory, maybe we should do some actual spying or at least gathering of information. Then it would at least be fun to act like a spy in enemy territory. wink

Prawnofthepatriarchy Sat 09-Jul-16 11:17:16

I don't think it is fun to be a spy in enemy territory but then I don't think men in general are some sort of Gestapo hunting us down. smile

Back when you still could, a friend was hitching back from India with her bloke. They had an amazing time except for one scary night. Got in a lorry with 3 blokes in it. As night drew in they stopped at a sort of camping place. It soon became clear that these guys were considering my mate sexually.

She wrapped her shawl round her head and busied herself cooking and then made a lot of fuss preparing tea and serving it in a humble way to each. She served tea to her OH and bowed. She then tucked herself away behind him. He couldn't have done anything: they'd have probably killed him if it came to a fight. A very delicate situation.

It worked. She said she knew they saw her and OH as decadent Westerners, so was trying to get them to alter their perception and include her inside their definition of respectable wife. She was counting on them not raping a woman they saw as modest. It might easily not have worked but, thanks to her courage, it did.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sat 09-Jul-16 11:34:25

She does seem a bit over cautious. I travel quite a bit alone too and to be honest the only 1 I would think of is the door one which I agree with. I would never stay in motel type accommodation which is accessible without going through a staffed reception.

I was on a guided Far East tour recently and was shocked that one of the hotels was this type of accommodation with not only a front door accessible without going through reception but a back door to a veranda accessible from a back lane via a partially glass door which fastened with a very feeble bolt. If I'd been on my own I would not have stayed in it at all.

Thefitfatty Sat 09-Jul-16 11:43:27

Don't think she's being paranoid at all having lived and travelled alone in North East Asia and the Middle East. I used to wear my grandmothers old engagement ring on my finger and talk about my lovely non existent children. I also don't make eye contact with strange men or acknowledge them if they try and speak to me.

shins Sat 09-Jul-16 20:33:54

Yes. I learned not to be too friendly travelling through certain countries as a young lone woman - I watched native women and their way of dealing with strange men was chilly politeness, no eye contact etc - so I copied them. The kind of friendliness that's innocent to us may seem like a sexual come-on in other cultures. I had to jump out of a moving taxi in Turkey away from a gropey driver after committing the faux pas of (i) getting in the front passenger seat and (ii) chatting happily away and letting slip the fact that I was single, alone and far from home. You don't really have time to analyse the faults of another culture or make some kind of living protest against them; you just have to be pragmatic and get on with it to avoid aggro or danger. I was lucky enough to travel a lot as a young single mother as well and oddly that can be a great advantage in a traditional culture - I usually invented a husband and my little boy and I were treated with great hospitality and protectiveness - the hassle I would normally get as a young woman was somewhat neutralised by having a child. But I took all the precautions mentioned in the original link - I wedged doors of hotel bedrooms with heavy objects, was on constant alert wherever I went, wary of being alone with anyone - just common sense I would've thought, and I'll be passing that on to my daughter too when she's old enough to set off in the world.

KindDogsTail Sat 09-Jul-16 22:38:06

That was a very interesting story about your brave, cool headed friend Prawn.
Shins I think that is very true about eye contact in other cultures. I once glared at a gypsy man in Spain in a nightclub when I was about nineteen, because he had done or said something to another girl I knew. I think I was lucky he didn't kill me, he looked so angry.

May I ask why it is that in this thread a pragmatic approach to trying to be safe from attack by men is being allowed in such an equable way? I find it a relief. Normally it would be completely taboo - and I know it is from seeing it so often is on other threads - for someone to say they would tell their daughter x, y , z to stay safe?

The idea is normally that it is not for girls and women to take steps to stay safe, but for men to stop attacking. It is true obviously, but in practice one can't get rid of the attackers or stop them in advance, so to my mind it is wise to try to be aware far as possible about them and try to avoid them. I've never dared say so before though.

shins Sun 10-Jul-16 00:47:32

Well I think it's possible to see male violence as a serious problem that needs to be addressed while at the same time wanting the next generation of girls to be armed and aware as it were. I was attacked ( in my home town) when I was very young and while I got away with just a bad fright, it was an early lesson in the depressing fact that male violence exists and young women have to watch out for themselves. The vast majority of men don't hurt women but it'd be naive not to watch out for the ones who do.

EBearhug Sun 10-Jul-16 01:05:06

Taking a book to dinner is just normal behaviour if you're dining alone, isn't it?

Thefitfatty Sun 10-Jul-16 04:54:20

The idea is normally that it is not for girls and women to take steps to stay safe, but for men to stop attacking.

I don't think anyone's ever said that woman shouldn't try to keep themselves safe, just that if something does happen to them they should be treated as victims and not told they weren't careful enough.

Certainly the onus should be on men to stop attacking, but that will be a long time coming as it means changing a lot of hearts and minds.

To be fair, I would make many of these recommendations to men traveling alone as well.

Tinklypoo Sun 10-Jul-16 05:05:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

claraschu Sun 10-Jul-16 05:28:23

I dress like a teenage boy: jeans, baggy t-shirt, trainers, no makeup. I have always preferred to dress like this, and I got almost no hassle from men, even when I was young and beautiful.

Again, this is not something you are supposed to say, but lots of women's clothes are designed to make women look vulnerable (teetering high heels, tight short skirt, accentuated breasts, etc). As an extension, women dressed in a feminine way start to look vulnerable to the arseholes of the world. I found that if I don't look vulnerable, lots of bullies don't notice me.

I think women should be able to wear whatever they like and not get hassled, obviously.

Thefitfatty Sun 10-Jul-16 05:31:09

I dress like a teenage boy: jeans, baggy t-shirt, trainers, no makeup. I have always preferred to dress like this, and I got almost no hassle from men, even when I was young and beautiful.

I dress like this and in South Korea I was asked how much I cost, had a man punch me when I turned him down for a drink, and in the Middle East I've been followed, flashed and had to run from a taxi driver who tried to assault me.

What you wear doesn't matter.

claraschu Sun 10-Jul-16 05:36:01

It is true that I have never been in South Korea and the Middle East, but have travelled a lot in Europe and the US. I found that how I dress makes a pretty noticeable difference to how I am treated.

Thefitfatty Sun 10-Jul-16 05:45:19

I've also traveled a lot in Europe and the US, and experienced lower levels of harassment despite my cargo pants and baggy spider man t-shirt. Ass pinched, face grabbed, shouted at, hooted at, etc.

Thefitfatty Sun 10-Jul-16 05:46:21

To be fair the only time I've ever noticed getting less harassment is when I'm with people, or when I put on a stern bitch face and don't make eye contact.

shins Sun 10-Jul-16 08:45:40

I had a man attempt to wank on me in the metro in Rome while I was wearing a sober grey trouser suit and flat shoes. Doesn't matter a lot of the time.

KindDogsTail Sun 10-Jul-16 18:53:51

My daughter bought herself a thick swimming costume with thigh length legs on it because of experiencing men with goggles following behind her in the pool on several occasions.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sun 10-Jul-16 22:14:42

I had a man attempt to wank on me in the metro in Rome while I was wearing a sober grey trouser suit and flat shoes. Doesn't matter a lot of the time

Yuck.

I'm slightly uncomfortable with this thread. Your point "doesn't matter a lot of the time " is one which should not be overlooked. There seems to me a thin line between sensible advice and policing what women wear.

shins Mon 11-Jul-16 08:34:59

Indeed. And the countries where women are encouraged to cover themselves up for their own protection are usually the ones with the worst lechery from men too. I remember Shazia Mirza's "hand of God" joke about getting groped on the Hajj pilgrimage.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 11-Jul-16 09:05:10

Taking a book to dinner is just normal behaviour if you're dining alone, isn't it?

Yes.

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