According to quite a few people I’ve met during my adult life I should be in fear or need to be protected whenever I go outside on my own. Why is that? Where does this come from? And why don’t I share that feeling or idea?
I get very frustrated when someone makes a remark about not going into a certain area as a woman alone. There are certain places that I really don’t want to go into alone, but that’s a consideration I make for myself and I don’t appreciate the comment.
Women are just as strong as men, I won’t go into the danger zone where I claim that women are maybe even stronger than men. Yes, we are built differently and physically we might not be able to lift as much as men. But that doesn’t mean we need to scurry into a corner, group into a big herd or require a strong bull to protect us.
Women are often told that it won’t be safe in a park for us after dark. But is it more dangerous for us than it is for men? Why is there no danger for them in that park? What can be so dangerous for women, but not for men? Rapists? How likely is it that you will actually run into one? And who says they are waiting behind a bush in the dark to grab you? Couldn’t it happen just as easily when you’re on your way from the supermarket to your car?
I’ve been in quite a few places that others might consider dangerous for a woman alone. I grew up near Amsterdam and traveled through the city quite a bit on my own. I lived in Ar Riyad, Saudi Arabia for about five months, stayed in Malaysia for four months and have explored my surroundings quite a bit on my own. Hiked a trail alone for six days in winter in The Netherlands and stayed at cheap B&B’s. Went on a vacation alone in Egypt for a week. I could go on for a bit, but I’ve never had any problems. Was I just lucky or did my behavior prevent me from getting into trouble? I’m not sure, but I think that the way I conduct myself in these situations is the way I prevent things from happening.
I believe humans are more intuitive than we might think. We’ve lost our ability to listen to our inner compass. But I think everyone can find it back again.
I feel most safe in two situations; When I’m in a busy area where there’s many people around, or when there is no-one there. I am least comfortable when there is only an occasional person around. When I’m in this situation I’m very aware of my surroundings, who is where and what are my options. So yes, I’m extra attentive at these times, but I won’t let it stop me… Except, when I feel on edge or unhappy about my surroundings. Then I just turn back.
It also helps if you feel like you know what to do when you are being attacked in some way. Since I went to school in Amsterdam (age 12-16) self defence for girls and women was considered an important part of our education. For several weeks we learned what to do when we were attacked in specific ways. We build our confidence by learning how to use a fist to break a wooden board into two pieces with one hit. I’m lucky that I’ve never been in a situation that I actually had to use it. But when I’m in a situation that might become hazardous, the memory of the training comes back to me and I recall what I have to do if something happens.
I won’t say that I’ve never felt uncomfortable in situations, because I certainly have. But I think it’s how you handle these situations, this is where you gain your strength and growth. I handle the situations usually in two different ways. The first is get yourself out of the situation, and if you can’t do it alone, find somebody who can help (I was once stalked by phone by a Saudi driver and one of my local colleagues helped me). The other option is to secure yourself in a way you feel most comfortable. Inform family or friends where you are and set a time you’ll get back in touch again. Make sure to lock the doors when you are inside. Or use any other method you feel secure with.
I’m curious what you think about being a lone woman traveler or explorer. Do you agree with me? Or do you have other experiences? Let me know! Please leave your comments below.