During my last few months of travel I kept coming back to this feeling, I was tired. I thought I was tired of travel: new beds, long buses, navigating cities and eating in restaurants at every meal. I've only just realized thought, that this is not what I'm tired of.
I'm tired of being a woman.
Traveling as a solo female everyone's first question for me is, "Isn't it dangerous, don't you feel unsafe?" and I'm grateful that my answer has always been a confident "No, I'm okay on my own". 99% of the time this is true, I've never felt in danger or worried about my safety, but that doesn't mean there haven't been times of discomfort. The thing is those moments of discomfort have nothing to do with travel and everything to do with being a female.
My mom used to say, "Be careful of men, they all just want one thing" and I'm sure you know what she was talking about. I took her advice, but wanted to believe differently, certainly there had to be a few diamonds in the rough. I'm finally beginning to realize, or maybe it's admit, that she was right.
Over the years I've watched as friendships have faded with male friends, once they became involved in a serious relationship. Were they only interested in or hoping we would date [sleep together]? I genuinely believe that if I told my friends "If you're hoping we'll one day end up in bed together, just leave now" I'd lose contact with at least 50%.
It's even worse on the road though, when time is short and the waiting isn't always an option.
Most recently in Sri Lanka I was told, "The people are so friendly" and it was true, everyone wanted to help me. It was only a few days into my trip though that I could sense what this help was laced with. From tuk-tuk drivers to hostel owners, and even random men in the city, everyone wanted to help me, with the hope I would repay them in bed.
It's been the same all over the world, only the lines are different:
In Cambodia I got a "But you're here and I'm horny" while another friend begged me to be his girlfriend, because to him this translated directly to sex.
Coasta Rica was interesting too, "I'm not a typical Latino, if I was I would have hit on you after an hour" well thanks for being so kind and waiting 4, buddy.
It's not always direct, I've gotten the regret text more than once, from Couchsurfing hosts, friends and fellow travelers: "I really like you, but didn't get a chance to tell you / knew you weren't into me / didn't do anything because 'Couchsurfing'. While I used to appreciate the sincerity it only drives home my point, they're all interested in one thing.
Then there's Korea, a country I chose to live in and on the surface, it all seems great. Korean guys are seen as being caring and attentive, devoted to their girlfriends (or wives), but they may just be in the drama's because it's not all rainbows and butterflies here. If I have to hear, "Why don't you have a boyfriend, you're pretty?" one more time... I could make a laundry list of the guys I've met that want to sleep with me, but date? Well that one's pretty short.
It's not a secret either, let me introduce you to a Korean Idiom: 백마를 타다, literal translation "To ride the white horse". So yeah, that's what I'm dealing with...
I don't want to sound bitter or cynical, it's just that while navigating new cultures and countries it'd be nice not to also have to sift through lines of bullshit, always reading for an ulterior motive.
I am thankful that annoyance is the only problem I’ve dealt with, like I said I’ve never felt unsafe or in danger. But this is where the world is really screwed up, I almost wrote “lucky” instead of “thankful”. Why should I, as a woman, have my first instinct be to feel lucky not to have been in a dangerous situation with a man? There’s something wrong there.
Emptying my Head
I'm an overthinker, my brain is always on overdrive. Sometimes the thoughts are pertinant to life, and other times they're just a trove of wonder. They're usually about, related to or in memory of travel. When they're good I like to share.