The Feminist Times
TRAVEL AND GENDER
Updated: Apr 17, 2021
I used to be scared of using clichés to express my thoughts, “so many people have said it already, why do you need to enforce it again?” Till I recently read somewhere that clichés are clichés for a reason, “the secret lies behind clichés itself.” So until you understand why subordinating a woman is not right, we will keep repeating it.
Traveling is a surreal experience and experiences should never be discriminatory in nature. I live to travel. The wind, roads, stars, sun, people, forests are something so refreshing to me that I cannot refrain from it. However when you deprive me from taking this experience because of some old preconceived notions, I will raise questions. My family has been supportive of my travelling ventures; nonetheless my friends and I do encounter many remarks constantly which just don’t feel right. Sharing some with you, “Why do you want to travel alone, take your brother along? Go with your girlfriends in a large group. After marriage you can travel as much as you please. Don't venture into the night alone. We are saying this for your own safety only.” I am not denying that safety is a major concern when we travel. What I want is to shift your focus from the issue to finding the cause and then consequently finding a solution for it.
Question- Why does a girl travelling alone create havoc in the society? Why do we deck-up a stock of pepper spray, pocket knife, emergency kit before venturing out? Why does traveling feel like an achievement when I come back home, alive? Why can’t parents sleep when their daughter is out at night? Why restricting her seems a better option than trying to create a safe space around?
As you begin to answer these questions you will realize they all add up to the same thing. Men have to learn to behave.
I am not going to give up getting lost in the blue lanes of Jodhpur, watching sunset from the ghat at Varanasi, climbing a peak in Himachal, talking to locals of Gir, hopping from one yellow taxi to another in Kolkata or breathing the night air of Delhi because some people cannot accept my freedom. Understand that if each one of us promises to act humane we have a better world already. The restrictions, the norms are human made. And since we made them, we can break them too. All we need is to identify what patterns are worth keeping or abandoning.
So as you sit on the highest peak of Rishikesh and watch the sun go up with a cup of chai in your hand, know that you deserve this bliss and that no patriarchal norm or being should have a say on your freedom.
- Rachna, “I practically live on coffee and travel. You can check up my favourite travel memories at https://rachna99rc.wixsite.com/myrachna