Possibly you’re wondering what this topic is doing on a travel blog.
Trust me, it belongs here.
The icky virus has kept both of my feet, and that of most intrepid travellers, firmly planted on home soil over the past year. And Australia is rich and ripe for exploring. Although I did need to use my passport last week for identification purposes, grabbing it from the safe and brushing off the cobwebs. Its expiry date has crept closer without seeing any daylight. But that’s another story. Point is, I’ve travelled across the globe on my own and misogyny has not often poked its head up. Or rarely. It seems to be a local travel thing.
And just as nomads come in different colours, age, gender, mode of travel and accommodation, with pets or not, so does the misogynist. The biggest surprise has been the softly-spoken female misogynist wielding her sharp verbal axe like a weapon of mass destruction. Sure, there has been some unwelcome male attention. I can almost understand that. What I don’t get is the lady in the floral shift (dress) and sandals who barrels into my personal space and attacks without warning 😱
“Aren’t you clever, doing this all on your own?” (Without a penis, she means.)
I’ve had a woman ask me, “Where’s your husband?” As if being accompanied on the road by an ageing gentleman wearing an over-tight wedding band on his left hand is mandated by law. Her husband was pleasant to chat to as he set up their caravan, then she took a break from rearranging the cutlery inside and popped out to enquire after my martial status. Rude, hell yeah! Stuck in the 1900s. Yup, that much is true. I have to wonder what these women will do when their loyal mates depart this blessed land. Perhaps the plan is to sell the motorhome and catch up on old episodes of Neighbours?
I know many, and I mean dozens, of cluey women who travel on their own or take the lead on driving and vehicle support. Strong, intelligent ladies out there on the road. It takes smarts to travel safely and that’s not related to gender, age, race, or whatever else forms the basis for discrimination (and misogyny) these days. I know a lady over 70yo who is so tech-savvy in her handling of a large caravan, it makes me want to skill up in a hurry. I would like to be that efficient in my vehicle-handling skills.
A few things you can do to make a solo traveller feel at home on the road, as you’re sure to encounter many on your travels.
- Use your manners, ask if someone is enjoying their day, or fall back on the weather.
- Don’t barge in and ask if someone is travelling on their own.
- Hi! My name is… We’re from Victoria. Did you have a long drive today?
- Please don’t ask personal questions… We are not at a cocktail party! 💃🏼
- Do not ask a female if she has a husband or male companion. That’s a whole lot of assumptions right there. And it’s downright rude. It may even feel a bit threatening if she’s new to solo travel.
- If you offer help when she’s setting up, don’t be offended if she declines. I usually accept when backing, as a second set of eyes is helpful. I also reciprocate if someone else is setting up or packing.
- Resist! Resist! Resist! The urge to tell her she’s doing it wrong. This applies to everything. After being evacauated from the Murwillumbah floodwaters, I pulled up at Ipswich the next day to sleep and left the rig hooked up. The next morning I was rolling up the power lead and an elderly gentlemen clambered down a set of uneven steps to tell me I was doing it wrong. Now, there’re a few ways to store a cable and I use the under-over method. But in any case, I could tangle it up, throw it on the ground, and stomp on the bloody thing. That’s my choice. If it breaks or fails, I get to buy another lead. It’s presumptuous to suggest I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe I don’t care? He wandered back up the stairs in a huff after I responded, “I’m fine.”
- Usually if someone needs assistance they will go looking for it. And I do!
- I had a plumber help me to locate and re-attach a short piece of pipe under the caravan. We fixed it temporarily, then the next time it came adrift I was able to secure it permanently. Now that’s a help. He also loaned me a QuickFill to top up my water tanks, and I’ve since purchased this gadget online.
- I shouldn’t have to say this but do not yell at a woman. Sure, and I know you’re shocked. I’ve had this happen to me. If I’m focused on my tasks, and not on you, it’s not because I’m hard of hearing. On this occasion it was a male caretaker who was hell-bent on maximising the damage to my vehicles during a reversing manoeuvre.
- I’ve also been ignored by women at campgrounds. Guess this also happens to male solo travellers? We don’t bite, we like to have a chat and a drink. I like to swap travel stories. I was invited to drinks by a lovely couple, who left the next morning. The other couple we sat with the night before then ignored me 😔
- Just this morning, sitting here writing, I heard a rough male voice say, “Are you on your own, love?” Not your love. I didn’t look up.
- Use some commonsense.
- Use your manners.
Don’t make assumptions about anybody! Who they are, what they can do, or where they have been. I can service a chainsaw and break down a firearm before decimating a target. I recently learned to use a bow and arrow. I can also cook and knit. (No, I can’t crochet, my humble brain is not wired that way.) Thing is, attributions based on gender or other prejudices can be misleading.
The mere suggestion you could be a misogynist may make you feel uncomfortable, or even offended. I’ll admit to feeling annoyed with women who hide behind their skirts when it comes to doing hard work out on the road. I have met many widows and some of them are stronger for deciding to continue to travel on their resources. It can’t be easy. And it isn’t helpful if other women treat you like a freak. Tread lightly, please!
I get immense pleasure from being outside surrounded by eucalypts and birds. Oh, yes, and being around water makes me happy. I’m interested in people and have met and kept in touch with some wonderful folks on the road. Cooked for them and shared a glass (or three) of local wine 🍷 I don’t like being surrounded by noisy or thoughtless people. I don’t like being treated as a curiosity.
I recently reconnected with people I love to pieces, and hope to spend more time with them 💕
This is me. And it has taken most of life to figure out who I am. An introvert. A dreamer, an explorer, a person who reflects. Someone who loves to poke around on and off the road, to discover. And there is a lot I can learn from others.
As travellers, we can help each other out. I like to share the places I have been. I hope that holds true for you.
As someone who has been on the receiving end of assumptions since I was an hour old, I greatly sympathise.I do think Australia is behind the times with its view of women generally, and particularly single ones. Times are changing though, and pioneers like you and other solo women travellers are paving a way for the younger generation to follow. Far more than political correctness ever will. Well done. Women can do anything.