Brooke posted this article on her blog and talked about an experience we had in Ireland at our hostel, basically being constantly uncomfortable because of catcalls.
First, I want to make sure all female travelers know that this is not guaranteed to happen and that we ended up being fine. Even after this experience, I would still go travel alone again. Now I have promised that I will only ever book a female dorm and will stay in hostels that are higher priced.
I remember being in the girls shower after this had happened and feeling awful. The reason I felt awful was because it wasn’t just a cat call, it was a reminder of every other time stuff like this has happened before. Many girls don’t even remember the first time they were cat called, or the first time a guy grabbed them on the dance floor of a bar, or the first time they were told not to wear something because it would give someone the wrong idea. That’s because things like this, although maybe not as dramatic, happen often.The first time I traveled with Brooke in London we got cat called right when we got off the tube, the guys said ‘I’m going wherever they’re going’ and started laughing and talking about roofies. They didn’t follow us, thankfully. I’m not saying that to scare anyone and I think this post is especially important for men to realize what adjustments women have to make when traveling. Girls know the drill – Girls know how to walk fast, with keys in our fists, and our phones up ready to pretend like we are talking on it.
I have noticed this happens more when I’m with Brooke than other friends- the girl is gorgeous. I feel like the more a girl looks beautiful, the more guys are likely to see her as an object. How we look should not have anything to do with whether or not stuff like this happens and of course, should not somehow give permission for it to occur.
But it does start with guys. Cat calling is not something that women should have to deal with and should not be framed like that. Guys are really important for feminism and stopping violence against women, even if that just means helping a drunk girl home so she doesn’t go with a guy who’s a little too close. We really appreciate this because if Brooke and I were to say something at the hostel, we both felt it would’ve made the situation escalate and put us in danger.
After this all happened, I actually blamed myself. It is true that if we would’ve been in a female dorm or booked a more expensive hostel, this wouldn’t have happened. I quickly realized how bad blaming myself was- it should not be our responsibility to adjust (and pay more money) just because guys make us uncomfortable. We should not have to make adjustments for them. It is not our fault that that happened to us. We could not even go brush our teeth in our room without getting called at. Girls are constantly told to adjust, to hold those keys between our fists. But frankly, to heck with that. I’m so done with changing myself and my life because a group of guys think they have the power to make me do that.
Realistically, they do have power over what I do because I couldn’t do anything when I was in the shower at the hostel and now I have to not stay in mixed rooms. But, in the grand scheme of things, I really hope to see a day when girls are not adjusting and guys are realizing what this kind of stuff does to us. It is violent- I do believe the guys had the intent to harm us for their pleasure. We should not have to live in this world filtered by staying out of harm’s way, or away from these people.
I really want to stress that there are so many wonderful guys I have met on these travels that would’ve stood up for us or try to protect us had they been there. From the guys that dance with us at bars to keep the creeps away, to the ones that say text me when you get home- there are so many good ones that know this stuff happens and want to change/stop it. Also, visiting the little village of Galway and exploring Dublin’s streets was definitely cool – we certainly did not allow this situation to make our Ireland trip negative. We even went to a few pubs and I did feel pretty safe there, although it was like 70% men. Nearly every pub has live music, even one we went into looking for lunch on Sunday at 11am. So, don’t fear travelling because you are afraid. Unfortunately, with where the world is at right now, girls do have to take precautions and adjust when travelling. I’m hopeful that there will be change and every time we do travel and/or go out at night, it is a little bit of a rebellion. There is change possible and everyone has a share in creating it.
Brooke’s Youtube video of our Dublin trip
Brooke also put together a lovely guide to all the places we ate (we ate a lot so it’s very comprehensive!)