Sunday, February 3, 2013

On Travelling Alone

 The way the corporate media presents itself has over dramatized issues while desensitizing us at the same time.  I've arrived at a point where if I don't have enough time to scour the internet for multiple sources on a story, I tend to ignore the 'news' entirely.  Yet, this morning I heard my mom mention that a woman from New York City missing since this summer was found, dead, in Turkey (more on her can be found here).  It's a tragedy, something that our world is wrought with each day -- but this caught my attention more than normal.
I was disturbed not only because of the family Sarai Sierra has left, a husband and two children, but her travelling circumstances.  She was supposed to visit Turkey with a friend who no longer could afford the trip, so she went with the intentions of joining with locals she met through social media.  Of course there's a lot of room to speculate her intentions: why she decided to continue alone to a nation that's facing some unrest, why she would meet with strangers; but I'm not here to pass judgement.
I don't know how to articulate my frustration, helplessness and mourning; not only for her, but for the women of the world.  It's an issue as monolithic as that.  I'm upset because she was a travelling woman.  She went alone and could not come home.  WHY?  And in the same vein, it's like the woman who was beaten, raped and murdered in India, or the average 207,754 victims of sexual assault in the U.S. every year.  It's true, these incidents tend to be isolated, and I can't blame the region she was in (the Islamic Middle East), because this could happen (and has) just as easily in the United States.  Why can not women navigate through this world without the threat of slander, assault, violence?  I'm aggravated by my lack of words.
Again, this struck a chord because I'm leaving soon.  I have friends who have shared stories of close encounters, and my own memories of verbal harassment in the streets of Europe.  When I was in France, I applied for a travel grant and went to the south without telling my parents, as they didn't want me to apply in the first place for fear of my safety.  Nothing happened of course--I actually made friends with a group of travelling Canadians and Aussies-- yet there were moments of hesitation.  Travelling alone is one of the most exhilarating and liberating experiences one can do, but I want to be able to go where I please with my face forward, without glancing into every dark shadow uneasily.
Many women have done it.  I just took a class with an inspiring, keen and vivacious woman named Stephanie Elizondo Griest who wrote two novels about her solo travels through the world.  And by no means is this going to stop me from going the places I've dreamed of, but in spite of every precaution I could take, I despise that because I am a woman, this anxious corner of my mind will always remain.  You just never know what could happen, which is the draw and the setback.

 My thoughts and grief are with Sarai Sierra and her family and anyone who has ever felt that their safety, dignity and lives were at compromise because of who they are.  This world is truly a magnificent place, yet some people do not want others to go where they wish.

// end of rearing, nonsensical feminist rant.

Is my frustration properly directed?  Am I viewing this incorrectly?  I'm open to anyone's input and conversation, please, and I apologized for misplaced punctuation and disjointed syntax. sigh.

Online resources for travelling alone:

On another note, the Superbowl is today (and Ally's birthday, yipee!).  I don't understand football and nor do I have interest in pounding beers while corporations spend millions to brainwash our consumer minds, soo... where does that leave me?  I'm actually having a great day, it's so sunny and warm; I'm sorry for my apparent cynicism and overwrought angst.  Please excuse me while I guzzle another cocktail and smather cream cheese frosting on the carrot cake I baked this morning (if I don't eat it all first).

  Listening: "I Thought About You" by Frank Sinatra

1 comment:

Allison said...

First of all, thank you times a million for the birthday shout, and for your beautiful comment on my post. You are an amazing woman and I'm lucky to know you!
This post just shows how thoughtful and poignant your reactions to things are. It is so frustrating to be perceived as weak or inferior no matter what culture you are in, because of your gender. I have yet to travel alone - for me, it's because I hate being alone and like experiencing things with people though, I've never been afraid of the safety of it. You are an inspiration with all your travels.
I hope that in the years to come, people are just protected more - regardless of gender, country of travel, etc. You've shed light on such an important situation and I commend you for it.