You (Don’t) Need a Man

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Apparently at the 2016 Rubber Tramp Rendezvous some man (or men) told a woman (or possibly more than one woman) that she/they couldn’t travel/live in a van alone, that she/they needed a man (or at least a dog).

No man told me I needed a man. I heard the story from a young guy who’d heard it from his female friend. The female friend had been told (by a man) that she needed a man (or at least a dog) to travel with and (it was implied, I suppose) to protect her. This woman was already suffering from anxiety from being around so many people at the RTR, and this dude’s little public service announcement (not!) was more than she could handle. She packed up her camp and left.

When the young guy told me this story, I jokingly asked if we should go rough up the man (or men) who made such a stupid statement. First, let me say, I honestly had no intention of perpetrating violence against someone who’d made a stupid remark. I used a hyperbole (an exaggerated statement or claim not meant to be taken literally–https://www.google.com/search?q=hyperbole+definition&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8) when I probably shouldn’t have.

After my comment about roughing someone up, the young guy started saying as a Buddhist…nonviolence…etc. Point taken. I get it. I didn’t really want the young guy to get physical with dudes saying something dumb. But I did want him to say he’d gone with his female friend to confront the guy(s) or that he’d spoken to the guy(s) privately. I didn’t get the idea either of those things happened.

Some people will probably say I shouldn’t be spreading this information. After all, it didn’t happen to me. I don’t even know the woman it happened to. At this point, I’m repeating a he said she said that guy over there said. Fair enough. But I’m repeating this story anyway because I believe it happened, if not at the RTR then on a Facebook group or on the Cheap RV Living Forum or somewhere in the rubber tramp world. In my experience, it’s common for men (in all walks of life) to tell women what they need (to be or do or get).

No fellow has told me I need a man (probably because I’m too old and fat and hairy and most fellows wouldn’t want me to take them up on what they probably fear I would take as an offer.) Men like to tell me I need solar or I need a five gallon propane tank. But it doesn’t take much imagination for me to believe a scenario where some dude tells a young woman that she needs a man (or a dog, he might add hastily, if he’s trying to make it seem like this isn’t some kind of pickup line).

In the interest of community, I’m going to address all partied involved and share my thoughts and advice.

Men, quite telling women what they need (to have, to be, to do). You want to know the last thing women need? The last thing any of us needs is some dude bossing us around.

If you are attracted to a woman and trying to start a relationship (or even just get a night of sex), cut the caveman crap and try listening to what the woman has to say. (And if you don’t care what a woman has to say, buy yourself an inflatable sex doll and a tube of lube and leave us alone.) Want to try something revolutionary? Ask a woman what she needs. Ask her how you can help.

If you honestly fear for a woman’s safety (maybe she’s inexperienced, maybe she’s taking dangerous chances), offer her your assistance. Address particular issues. Tell her what you see, and offer your help. If she doesn’t want your help, drop the subject. You tried. You’re not responsible for her actions (dangerous or otherwise), but you’re also not the boss of her.

And men, if you didn’t know, most women who are physically and/or sexually assaulted know the perpetrator. According to the National Institute of Justice (http://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/rape-sexual-violence/pages/victims-perpetrators.aspx),

most perpetrators of sexual assault are known to their victims. Among victims ages 18 to 29, two-thirds had a prior relationship with the offender. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that 6 in 10 rape or sexual assault victims said that they were assaulted by an intimate partner, relative, friend or acquaintance.

The American Bar Association (http://www.americanbar.org/groups/domestic_violence/resources/statistics.html) states,

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1998 and 2002:

  • Of the almost 3.5 million violent crimes committed against family members, 49% of these were crimes against spouses.
  • 84% of spouse abuse victims were females, and 86% of victims of dating partner abuse at were female.
  • Males were 83% of spouse murderers and 75% of dating partner murderers

So when you’re saying you need a man (and implying to protect you), a woman who’s been abused by her dad or raped by her husband might be thinking incredulously, Yeah, right. Even if we haven’t experienced violence at the hands of men, many women are probably thinking the same thing because we likely know women who have been abused by men. We know that simply having a man around does not mean we are protected.

For men who would never try to tell a woman what to do, support your women friends when they tell you about men who do try to boss them around. When I told a female friend at the the RTR my concerns about women there being told they needed a man, her husband absolutely dismissed what I was saying. He said he hadn’t heard anyone say anything like that. I looked at him and said, Of course you haven’t. You’re not a woman traveling alone. Because he hadn’t experienced it happening, he refused to even entertain the notion such a thing could have been said to a woman.

Nice guys, hold other men responsible for the way they treat women. You don’t have to call other men out publicly or get into a physical altercation. But let them know you don’t think it’s ok to boss people around. Even just saying, Buddy, I don’t think you’d like it if someone tried to tell you what to do gives the guy something to think about.

Women, guess what? You don’t need a man. I’m living proof, and there are plenty of other women in the world traveling alone.

Being scared is valid. Most people are nervous at some point, especially when they try new things. If you are afraid, ask people you trust for advice about whatever aspect of traveling alone is worrying you. There are several groups on Facebook for solo women travelers. If you go to the RTR, attend the women’s meetings and ask for help there. Make friends with woman who are already living the way you want to live. Consider taking a self-defense class. Research self-defense online. Read up on situational awareness. (I’ve read two good articles on the topic. The first can be found at http://www.artofmanliness.com/2015/02/05/how-to-develop-the-situational-awareness-of-jason-bourne/. This article is suitable for people of any gender, despite the name of the website. The second is at http://www.survivethewild.net/situational-awareness/.)

We’re into the second decade of the 21st century, and while male companionship is something many women desire, none of us need a man in order to live on the road. As the Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin said, sisters are doin’ it for themselves.

(Read more about the 2016 RTR here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/01/23/report-on-the-2016-rubber-tramp-rendezvous/.)

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8 Responses »

  1. I started traveling my myself (wandering and camping) in my early 20s (a looooong time ago). Men told me that, too! I just gave a big grin and said that I’m not stupid enough to need a man to protect me. Then they looked kind of uncertain, wondering if I had a gun. Then, they thought they heard their mommy calling them and drifted off. (grin)

    Many women think fear is a Bad Thing. It isn’t — it’s a Good Thing. Not when it takes over your life, of course, but a decent amount is healthy. People who have no fear simply aren’t very bright. Just use fear constructively. Be aware of your surroundings. If you have a dog with you — even a little one — and he/she is acting wary, PAY ATTENTION! Just like in the cities, there are Strange People on the road, in campsites, at RTR. Do you know how psychiatrists and psychoanalysts define a psychopath (a sociopath is the PC word for the same thing)? It is a person who has no conscience. They don’t know right from wrong, and wouldn’t care if they did. They have spent their lives watching people and learning how to act like a normal human being so they can use it against them. Serial killer Ted Bundy was a psychopath who killed 30-50 women. You can read about him at Wikipedia and it tells how he approached women: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Bundy

    Just be careful if someone (male or female) is just too friendly, too helpful, and seems to want to get too close, too fast.

    • Oh, yeah, I’m way suspicious of people who immediately want to be my friend.

      I don’t think I am nearly as scared as many women are. Women ask me fairly often if I am afraid. I say I am sometimes, but I don’t let it debilitate me.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Sue.

  2. Well, it sounds like the young woman did the right thing and left when she felt uncomfortable. In some ways women who travel on their own are safer just because they are more aware and careful. The woman I think are most vulnerable are those that follow idiots around just because they are a man.

    Case in point, when I was on my own in Jordan taking a bus across the Israel/Jordan border, I was talking to a couple who were amazed I was on my own. When we reached our destination, their tour bus and guide were not there to pick them up and they were freaking out. I was the one with the international cell phone they used to make contact with the tour company and the rental car waiting for me to drive them to the nearest town. I dropped them off, both so fearful and afraid and unprepared for problems.

    An unprepared man is more dangerous to a woman than a prepared woman in my opinion.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Lynnnn.

      I’ve definitely done my share of following idiots around. NO MORE!

  3. Hi,

    Glad you posted regarding this, it makes me so mad. I love Sue’s comment from above and will have to use that, I’m not stupid enough to need a man to protect me.

    I have gone on several road trips by myself and by choice. If I wait my whole life for someone or a man to go with me I’d never get any where. Plus I may not want to babysit that man! A few “men” asked me if I was scared? To be safe? I really took offence to that, would they say that to another man? NO! I’m fine that you, I’m not stupid and will listen to my instincts and if things don’t feel right I’ll move on. I do take certain precautions and am not worried. Most people out there are helpful and we don’t need to live in a fear based life.

    Many men get in to trouble themselves because they think nothing will happen to them since they are men, like some super hero power.

    I started out young wearing my Wonder Woman Underoos so I’m fine 🙂

    Tina

  4. You hit right on the money Blaize! I not only do not need a man, most of the pain I have experienced in this world is the direct result of being with a man. I have had several want to invite themselves into my mobile mansion or get me to come into their spaces – umm no, not until I know you much better. There are a lot of very lonely old guys on the road and some of them think that because I am old and no longer gorgeous that I am willing to settle for their handouts – also not happening.

    Having said that, I found the majority of the guys at the January RTR to be very respectful. While I couldn’t get there for the Summer gathering, it is on my radar for January. Hope to see all of you there! I felt very welcome and forged some great connections at my first RTR in January.

    • Most of my good connections at the RTR were with women, but I did meet some very nice men there too. There are all kinds of folks at the RTR, some good, smart, kind people and some bossy idiots.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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