Traveling experiences based on gender
I’m a huge fan of watching shows where people travel to countries I’ll probably never visit (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc) and to see what it looks like through their eyes and lens without having to actually go there myself.
So it comes as no surprise that I really enjoyed the guys from the TV series Departures and Anthony Bourdain’s travel series like Parts Unknown (CNN).
As BF and I watched episodes on and off, he mentioned that he would kill for Bourdain’s job to just travel and eat.
I mused that it would be interesting if it was countries like France, you know, an eating & drinking tour of France or something, but I wasn’t too keen on going to countries like Libya due to political unrest and so on.
…then it occurred to me that it wouldn’t really matter how I felt about going to unstable countries anyway, because I’m a woman.
The simple fact remains:
Guys can go anywhere they want in the world and not be hassled.
Women can’t just pick up and go with a film crew to Libya and get into the heart of the culture because there are places and events that only men are allowed to participate in.
A good example of this was when Bourdain visited Libya and only the the boys and men were allowed to celebrate Mohammed’s birthday in the streets and eat treats from trays being passed around (undoubtedly baked by a woman), whereas women were only allowed to watch the celebrations from the rooftops and not participate.
Afterwards, Bourdain went to a male-only establishment to continue the celebrations.
Now, obviously women have their own environments where they relax privately and men are not allowed to visit or see, but even their environments are controlled by men.
Women in many countries particularly very strict patriarchal ones, are also not really allowed to show to the public what their domain or world looks like because they don’t get to make those decisions – they have to ask for permission beforehand.
I remember reading Kabul Beauty School, and I can’t imagine film crews ever being allowed to go into a beauty school there to film women without their headscarves on, talking freely, openly and independently about their lives.
As a woman, my experience traveling is far different from a man’s.
A woman also can’t really travel safely on her own because things like being gang raped actually happen (e.g. like recent tourist rapings in India), whereas a man has a lower to no chance of this happening to them.
At the end of the day it’s really irrelevant to me because I don’t really want to visit those places and I wouldn’t really travel alone because I like traveling with others, but the principle of the matter is that I am not even given the choice or chance, even if I had chosen otherwise.