top of page

Barbie Exposes Female Travel Hardships

Who needs a knight in shining armor when you've got a trusty backpack and a smartphone with a GPS that won't mansplain the way? In the spirit of Greta Gerwig’s most recent masterpiece, Barbie, in this article I’ll be dissecting the struggles women face during solo travel. Get ready as we explore how even in a world of catcalls and condescension, women find their power and pave their own way through uncharted territories.


If I had a dollar for every time someone said the Barbie movie was "too radical" I’d be richer than Margot Robbie herself. You know what's genuinely radical? The fact that these sayings have become the norm: "Sit like a lady!" ; "Boys will be boys!" ; "Don't be so emotional." ; "You're way too bossy." ; "Be more ladylike." Blah. Blah. Blah. Using the term "ladylike" implies that there's a one-size-fits-all definition of how women should behave.


The new Barbie Movie aimed to vividly portray the everyday struggles that many women face. However, some critics of the film tend to fall into two camps: those who claim "It was too dramatic. Women don't experience those issues," and others who question, "Why is this movie so anti-men? Men deserve rights too." While I can understand how these viewpoints might arise from a skewed interpretation of the movie's intent, they miss the mark entirely. The Barbie movie wasn't crafted to shame men or strip them of power. It was an effort to foster empathy and level the playing field in an ironically male-dominated reality. By placing women in leadership roles, the film challenged conventional gender norms. Greta Gerwig's objective wasn't to create a world where women dominate and men are marginalized, but rather to foster equality and understanding. She aimed to prompt men to grasp the feelings women have encountered. If someone can't even endure the perspective shift during an hour-and-a-half film and finds it excessively problematic, that response speaks volumes about the issue itself. This film becomes a beacon of empowerment, not only for young girls but for women of all ages, affirming their shared journey.


As someone who identifies as a woman, I have a wealth of personal experiences to draw from and I'm here to share some candid advice and insights. My hope is that by sharing these stories, viewers can absorb the range of possibilities – because, as unpredictable as they may seem, these scenarios could very well find their way into your own travel narrative. While I'm young and haven't traveled to every corner of the world or collected all of the answers, I can certainly share what I've learned and experienced thus far.


There are many precautions us women must face. We have to think twice about Ubers, walking alone at night, wearing certain items of clothing, the way we carry ourselves, and so on. On top of this fear, women have to keep in mind that if something were to happen, they may be blamed for not taking enough precautions. This concern can influence their behavior and choices… and their outfits! Women, historically and statistically, have been more vulnerable to safety risks, including harassment and assault. This awareness of potential danger prompts women to be more vigilant when traveling alone.


As Barbie embarked on her journey into the real world, she encountered a series of cultural shocks that left her confused. Navigating a society with norms differing significantly from those of her home proved to be an eye-opener. When venturing to different countries and places, the varying perceptions of women can be bewildering, demanding a delicate balance between adaptation and cultural sensitivity.


Similarly, solo female travelers embark on their own cultural expeditions, often encountering norms that differ from their own. This calls for an adaptable spirit, heightened awareness, and a genuine desire to understand and respect local customs. The inclusion of the catcalling scene in the movie serves as a vital tool to shed light on the big issue of street harassment. It provides a platform to amplify the uncomfortable reality faced by countless women daily – a reality where women's fashion choices often come under scrutiny and misinterpretation.


Catcalling is often about exerting power and control over women. It can be a way for individuals to assert dominance and feel a sense of superiority. Catcalling turns a woman into an object, often a sexualized one, therefore taking away from her individuality. Those individuals that believe they have the power over a woman to comment on their appearances without their consent make it seem as if a woman’s body is public property. Let's be real, gentlemen – in what alternate reality does a woman halt in her tracks upon hearing a whistle, then proceed to declare her undying affection for you?


Now how are you supposed to deal with catcalling? Maintain your composure and confidence, they want a reaction from you– do not give it to them. It’s best to avoid eye contact and to keep moving in order to avoid escalating the situation. It is also important for you to share your location with a trusted individual (this goes for uber rides alone as well). If you start to feel unsafe, ask a friend to follow your location. Some tell women to dress modestly too in order to avoid conflict– but why the fuck are we having to change our dresscode inorder to not “tempt” the boys? It’s truly disheartening that women have to endure this inappropriate behavior. My inner Aires wishes I could cuss them out, but what good would that do? I am not going to lower myself to their level- so instead, I act as if it does not bother me.


For women on the road, whether solo or accompanied, encountering men who fail to comprehend the significance of the word "no" is an all-too-common reality. There are those who will objectify, discomfort, and question your abilities. You will have men approach you in clubs and bars who do not understand the social ques for “leave me the fuck alone.” Some will comment on your outfit, saying you're asking for it, when you were simply dressed that way for yourself. Sadly, as a woman tourist, you are an easy target for others. What can you do? Tell them straight up to leave you alone, go to the bathroom and find your friends, or just go home. As Barbie experienced firsthand in her voyage to the real world, reality isn't always a blend of sunshine and rainbows, especially for a woman as poised and kind as she. Instead, it can be a realm where vulnerability is preyed upon by those hungry for power.


This mindset is mirrored in America Ferrera's speech to Barbie that embodies the near-impossible standards imposed on women. The paradoxes are endless: be confident, but not too confident, or you're labeled cocky. Display emotion, but not too much, or it's attributed to hormones. Strive for independence, but not too much, for fear of being deemed intimidating. Assert yourself, but tread lightly – assertiveness might be mistaken for aggression. Speak up, but don't be too loud, as it could be seen as attention-seeking. Walk with confidence, but not too confidently, or it's implied you're asking for it. The contradictions go on and on, forming an intricate web of expectations.


The Barbie movie serves as a beacon of empowerment, guiding Barbie's journey not only into the real world but also into the realm of self-discovery. A parallel can be drawn for women who venture into the world of travel, where personal empowerment blooms amidst the challenges. Just as Barbie did, women travelers forge bonds with locals and fellow explorers, crafting their own unique community in foreign places. As I embarked on journeys to new destinations, I formed connections with numerous women, creating a network where we supported and looked out for one another throughout our travels. Along the way, you will discover your hidden strengths. However, don’t expect the road to be as smooth as Barbie once did.


For those who have made it this far, regardless of your gender identification and/or if I have pissed you off yet, I offer a collective reminder to maintain awareness and keen observation of your environment. Threats do not discriminate based on gender. They can arise from any corner. The point of this article isn't to scrutinize a particular gender or to instill fear in women. Instead, it aims to shine a light on the inherent challenges of traveling as a woman. And what better way to convey this message than through the prism of pop culture, where stories mirror the realities we navigate.


Until next time,

Lily




3 Comments


Ann Griswold
Ann Griswold
Aug 16, 2023

"Let's be real, gentlemen – in what alternate reality does a woman halt in her tracks upon hearing a whistle, then proceed to declare her undying affection for you?" phhhhewwwww let them hear it lilian

Like

Ann Griswold
Ann Griswold
Aug 16, 2023

This is one of my favorites that you have written!!!! everyone needs to go see Barbie and if you don't get it then watch it again

Like

Ann Griswold
Ann Griswold
Aug 16, 2023

hi


Like
bottom of page