I’m off tramping around the Saskatchewan backcountry for a few days, and since I doubt my tipi will have WiFi, I figured you’d enjoy this guest post from funny blogger Susan Shain. Have at ‘er!
My fellow female travelers,
Thank you for traveling. Thank you for showing the world it’s okay that #wegosolo. It’s so cool that we can go where we want, when we want. The world, and all of its magic, is out there just waiting for us to explore it.
Whilst exploring, you have the right to dress as you like. Fanny packs, scrunchies, those diaper-looking hippie pants. Whatever floats your boat.
But you know what doesn’t float anybody’s boat? Wandering around foreign countries half-dressed. You may think you’re expressing your right to do as you please, but you’re really just drawing unwanted attention to yourself. Attention that gives Western women often-undeserved reputations, makes local women feel uncomfortable, and, worst of all, can put you in danger.
Please, for the love of sunshine, COVER UP.
Remember: you’re a visitor in another culture. YOU are the one who should be adapting — not the other way around. If the local women aren’t baring all, it’s not up to you to start the trend.
In many cultures, it’s widely accepted that men will harass women as they walk down the street — no matter what they’re wearing. It sucks. For local women and visitors alike. BUT, you’re not going to change anything by traipsing around half-naked. If you don’t want to be over-bombarded (because, let’s face it, you’ll be bombarded no matter what) with cat calls, whistles, and hisses, then look around you. Are the local women wearing the same thing?
Dressing with cultural sensitivity will improve your experience, and that of those around you. Trust me; a local woman is far more willing to have a conversation with somebody who’s dressed like them than with somebody wearing a crop top and denim underwear. And, if you’re going out in a group, why not consider the rest of us who don’t want to be hissed at as though we’re parseltongues?
If you truly want to embrace the spirit of backpacking and travel, you need to ditch your ideas about your rights to dress and act as you want. When you travel, you’re visiting somebody else’s world. That’s the beauty of it. Sustainable travel involves learning about and understanding other cultures — not forcing yours upon it. You wouldn’t expect to travel to another country and gab away in your native language, so don’t expect to rock the same outfits, either.
I know, I know. Women shouldn’t have to act any differently than men. I agree. But it’s important to recognize that you’re the visitor here. Save the soapbox for your home country.
Part of being an advocate for your own rights is being conscious of how you express yourself. This is YOUR body to respect and protect. While you’re traveling, the last thing you want to worry about is receiving attention for the wrong thing. Wouldn’t you rather be focused on the wonder and excitement of being in a foreign land? Express your personality with funky jewelry or hairstyles, but not with skin.
Ladies: you are beautiful. You are strong. You’ve won Nobel Prizes, climbed Everest, birthed every incredible person on this earth, and fought valiantly for your rights and recognition as an equal.
If you’re traveling in another country, you’re probably pretty awesome. You’ve opened yourself up to learning about another culture and another way of life.
Your independent nature, world knowledge, and open mind are the sexiest things about you. Flaunt that instead.
Susan Shain has been working ungrownup adventure jobs and traveling the world since 2008. She currently lives in Granada, Nicaragua, where she volunteers with adorable kids… and has become immune to hissing. Catch up with her on her blog, Travel Junkette.