Support Women on Your Travels

Travel

As I look at my next adventure around the world I often take moral and ethical choices to heart. When I have to go with a guide or a group, I want to make sure that company supports women domestically and internationally and that my money goes to lifting women up.

I have talked about in previous posts the importance of acknowledging workers and people in other parts of the world. Today, I want to draw sharp focus on how you and I can support women better when we are on the road.

  1. Bring supplies that go to schools, and if possible, to schools that focus on girls.
    • Pack for a Purpose organizes donations for local schools in developing regions around the world. Their comprehensive list makes drop offs easy, and even resorts in places like Riviera Maya offer drop of spots. This includes where we honeymooned in Mexico, Sandos Caracol. There are also drop points in the United States, or you can send some stuff with a traveling friend!
  2. Choose tours that support women’s arts and initiatives
    • Companies like G Adventures offer tours to women’s weaving co-ops in Peru, or cooking classes in Spain. Ultimately this connects travelers to life-changing experiences, and supports local non-profits. Make sure if you are visiting crafters to buy a small purchase or two as a phenomenal souvenir and to continue the initiative.
  3. Do some voluntourism
    • If you have extra time a little can go a long way to support a cause that supports women. A few days to a few years can leave positive impacts. However, make sure you do your research and your mind is in the right place for aiding the country you’re visiting, not yourself.
    • An example is working directly with girls and women in India, or working with kids in South Africa to have nature experiences.
  4. You don’t even have to travel
    • If you are planted for a while, the simple truth is that you don’t need to travel to help people in need. Your community probably has numerous organizations that could use some help.
    • Think of women’s clinics that just need a loving hand, or a domestic violence shelter you could sew blankets and scarves for.
    • Maybe take some time to help a Girl Scout troop learn a new skill or volunteer at your local school.
    • Even simple things like food banks, diaper banks, and medical clinics could use some additional kindness and helping hands.

While these are just a few examples of how to get out there and support women, remember the biggest and most important goal is lifting each other up and supporting those around you. We don’t need stickers or shirts or roses and candy for that matter, we need all people to value all people as equals. Feminism is the radical notion that all women are people ~Marie Shear.

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Don’t Hold Back

musings, Travel
I have this conversation a lot, with men and women, mostly with women.
They say “I could never leave the country by myself”
I say “Why not? I have three times”
They say “WHAT? Did you stay with people? How? I’m not that brave.”
I say “Brave, or stupid, it’s so worth it….”
What I have learned, especially with women, is that so many feel that they either have to have male/friend accompaniment, or permission to go on their own. I know so many women that end up not taking a trip, or an excursion, or an outing without someone with them.
It’s not just on a trip in a foreign country, it’s even here in the states. And it’s nothing to do with a controlling partner, it has so much to do with people just fearing being on their own.
Many people won’t go to movies or dinner by themselves. They barely want to go to the grocery store without their kids, or partner or friend. There is an inherent cultural or biological fear on being solo out in the world.
Some of it is the fear of the unknown, the fear of loneliness, the fear of being hurt or pained. We have a culture that feeds on fears as if the world is falling apart, but the truth is that it has always been falling apart, and I refuse to be afraid of existing in it.
There is nothing wrong with this, I find it curious. I also have learned that I can’t wait around in my life for someone to come with me to see the world, to live my life. If I had waited, I would have never visited anywhere I have been.
When I was in high school friends would talk to me about traveling when I was planning my first trip. They would speak that they wanted to go, but no one really saved the money, no one got their passport, no one was serious.
I could have held back, I could have waited another year or two. But I realized that no one was going to actually follow through. I loved my friends, but their priorities were different at the time, totally ok, but I couldn’t wait.
Of course I was completely scared when I got on a plane to London, and then to Germany. I cried at the airport because I was frightened, I was afraid of all the horror stories people had sent me. I was afraid I would end up in a dumpster or on the sex slave market. Yet, nothing like this has ever happened, very little “bad” things have even happened, and mostly it was of my own making.
While the fear is real. Very real. While being aware of your surroundings and cultural situations is important, there is also a level where I will unapologetically jump into the world and live my life.
My husband is not nearly as adventurous as I, he will not leave the country without me, but it doesn’t hold him back because he’s happy being a homebody. It doesn’t hold me back because he doesn’t expect that I stay. I will continue to travel and embrace my existence, with or without him. Because I can’t wait around for someone else to permit me to have my best life.
So I encourage all of you, if you can, to get out and be by yourself. Explore the world, embrace your life, see new things, eat new food. Don’t be afraid.
Also, the best thing about being a solo traveler is that you are forced to make friends, forced to meet new people, and you will and they will continue to be inspiring voices and people as you traverse the world.

You know how in school we’re told to stand up for what’s right, even if we’re standing alone?

My parents encouraged this. Which I am profusely grateful. Even if my right is their wrong and vice a versa.

As someone that always took this as 100% the way to live my life, this means I don’t always make friends or peace with those around me. I often tangle with people in my family and people I grew up with. It means that many teary and angry conversations have been had with people I legitimately love, but that I cannot agree with their beliefs.

After the election on Tuesday I removed a lot of these people from my immediate connections. It was a long time coming, but I just couldn’t continue to be confronted with the following:

Bigotry,

Islamophobia,

Homophobia,

Transphobia,

Sexism,

Racism,

Anti-immigrant,

Anti-equality

and the list goes on.

I didn’t unfriend these people because they had a different argument or a different feeling, it’s because they continued to perpetuate inaccuracies and make excuses for hate speech and bigotry. They did this without fact-checking or without reading or without thinking what it means to any one of these groups of people that have been oppressed, abused and mistreated for these identities.

The did not care to research that racism is based on a system of oppression and that there is no such thing as reversed racism. Or that sexism is very well alive and can be proved over and over again. They kept themselves in a bubble that ignored reality, that ignored the tears and pain of those being abused as a result of our systemic problems in this country. It’s not the vote for the talking head, it’s the willful ignorance and hatred that they endorsed and support.

I CAN’T have this in my life, I refuse, and I refuse to make excuses for people that endorse this behavior. I refuse to make excuses so I can stay friendly with people that view me and so many of the people I love and admire as second class citizens.

So here I am, standing for what is right, and I will stand alone if I have to.

I am standing for what is right, which is basic human rights for all people. Which is giving people safety and sanctuary when they have been brutalized. It is standing against continued rape culture and the perpetuation that women or men “make it up” when they’re assaulted. It is standing up against a system that favors jailing minorities over whites that commit the same crime. It’s standing against anti-drug policies that favor abusing and oppressing minorities. It’s making sure women have access and rights to all the things male counterparts have. It’s making sure people of color, LGBTQ, differently-abled and anyone else that has been the victim of oppression is given the right and opportunity to succeed.

I refuse to write off people that haven’t had the opportunities of others. I refuse to view a group of people with hate (including Trump-ites). I refuse to believe any nationality or ethnic group is different, or more prone to, or less than human. I REFUSE. And I refuse to acknowledge others’ hatred as an accurate or even real argument.

I don’t care if one time someone from some group was mean once, or said something once. That’s not a representation of everyone from that group and their behavior sucks, but when you have lived a life treated as less than, sometimes you lash out, sometimes the anger from years of mistreatment boils over. And one becomes mad as hell and has just had enough. I think we have all been there for some reason. We cannot acknowledge one negative action as an example of how everyone behaves. You know this to be true. One kid in the class eats glue, not everyone in kindergarten does.

However, I will listen to REAL arguments and I will listen to real complaints. I will listen to real feelings about being left behind and underrepresented. Because, hey, I feel that way too. However, I also know that the layers to these problems are not from minorities and they are not from immigrants, they are not from foreign governments and they are not from any group that can be scapegoated. If you want to learn with me, then let me know. I’m happy to talk, I’m happy to show you. I’m happy to learn.

I’m happy to take suggestions, ideas and encouragement, but only if they have a standing in reality. I will not, and cannot take your bigotry or your privilege as an argument. Do you understand?

So today I turn my back on hatred and oppression. I don’t turn my back on people, but I will not see their hateful actions on my Facebook or twitter. It’s not a willful ignorance or wanting to shut these people out, but I refuse to be on social media terms with people that post these statement as if they were just a cute cat photo.

It may make no difference in the long run, but you know this poem:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~Martin Niemöller

I am speaking for those that can’t speak up and maybe someone will speak for me or not, but I am speaking for others now. You should too.

 

Turn Your Back On Wrong

History, musings