I wrote interviewed an incredible music artist named Jorrel for an article with the magazine Public Pressure. It focuses on his violent upbringing and his trauma from domestic violence which he has channelled into this storytelling cathartic songs. It’s a good one. Really.
After the violent attacks on two women in South America that spurred thousands of women to retaliate with the press on why women should travel alone, and how society is the problem not the travellers, I joined in and wrote a blog post which can be read here. It catalysed a movement on various platforms on social media with the hash tag #viajarsolo where I was approached by BBC World Have Your Say to come into their studios in London and talk about my experiences. The interview can be heard here and my segment begins roughly halfway, 35 minutes in, I don’t own the interview, all copyright belongs to the BBC.
I am assuming most of you may have read the article on the attempted rape and murder of the two backpackers travelling in South America?
If not you can read it here.
Reading a few articles on the topic, I gather that after the two woman were robbed at their own hostel, and had made friends with two local men during the day, they took up the opportunity to stay at their house, on the pretence the two local men were doing them a favour. Thus, the men sexually assaulted them and killed them when things did not go their way. As disgusting, gross and inhumane this act is, what was worse was how the world, and media responded.
Society began to blame the victims, saying they were travelling alone, that they had no common sense, that it was their fault.
And right here, is where we have the fault. We are living in a society where people blame the two innocent women for being murdered, rather than the murderers themselves. Surely it is the people who think they can and will assault women, that they can treat women as a piece of meat, to take advantage of other’s people’s wholly good qualities for their own unjustifiable means. In this case, it is the greedy men who cannot control their mind or bodies, that lust after women and treat them as sexual objects, rather than the sisters that they are, and do such atrocious acts.
This highlights the way we are living now, in modern society, in more developed countries like the US or the UK. Where women in the work place are hired or fired on their looks, where women are still paid less, where women are told to “talk less” to gain yourself a man, where women are frowned at by men because of their independence, or judged instantly by what their wearing (by friends, family, and random men on the street). Where friends and family force you to follow standard conventions of marriage and “being on the market”- as if we are cattle being sold?! I could seriously go on. The amount of times my opinion has been overlooked- in the UK, because I am a woman, I have been shut down and out of a conversation because I am a woman, because when I beat a guy at beer pong, all the other guys in the room are mortified that… wait for it, a woman beat him at beer pong. The amount of times I have been assaulted in clubs, yelled at on the street, been pressured to take a guy home to sleep with him, is actually sickening and most men don’t even realise we face this daily. Not just in South America where the above incident happened, or Saudi Arabia where women are oppressed and hidden away from the wandering eyes of men, but right here, in our very homes.
Yes I am a feminist. But I am a realist. We can’t change the way people think, without women being subjected to violence because men can’t accept our refusals. But I am also a traveller as well. Going back to the article, these two women felt unsafe in the hostel, and following what many travellers do- make friends with locals, they decided to stay at their house. They were not naive, they just expected these men to be wholly good, and they weren’t. I’ve also stayed with locals in their houses, and (unlike these two women), I’ve travelled alone and faced sexual assault, violence, intimidation, verbal harassment and continuous proposals of marriage. And boy, is it tiring. It wears you out. To constantly be on your guard, to be able to fight back, to follow your instincts and to always be thinking of your surroundings. It’s terrifying. But, I haven’t let it stop me. And I never will. I will not allow other people to ruin my solo adventures, ruin my experiences. These people will not stop, until they realise we don’t like it. They will not stop, until the whole world shouts back at them- “No!”.
And that is what we need to do. Next time some creepy guy touches you, tell him you don’t like it and no one else does, or when someone at work makes a sexist comment- say you don’t appreciate it. We need to fight this together. And those of you who are men, support the modern millennial of women, because nothing will change, we will keep getting stronger. Let her be her own individual person, rather than your sidekick, support her to stand strong, let her form her own opinions and thoughts and share with the world how she wants to. We need to be respected as individuals, as equal human beings.
This is an article I wrote for the music and cultural magazine, Public Pressure about rehabilitation in the UK Prison Systems and the benefits of Applied Theatre, in particular, working with the company, Odd Arts. Read it here.