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LJ Idol Season 8: Week 8
erica_crawford
Travelling Travesty

Throughout history, members of the fairer sex have been disguising themselves as men to go and do traditionally "male" things, such as fighting wars, from which women were barred. There were female "monks" whose real biological sex was only discovered after their deaths.

As a slight gamine (some might say elfin) woman, with a strong preference for male friendships and with an undeniable attraction to men, travelling alone (as I have done for the last ten years or so) has been rather too much fraught with danger for my liking. Somehow, my interest in discussing traditionally "male" pursuits such as football and engineering has been misread by one too many men; perhaps most women pretend to be interested in these topics while their inner eye is glazing over when they find a man attractive? I don't know. If I appear to be interested in something, it is because I actually am interested in it: I have no interest in pretending to like something I don't.

Such misunderstandings led to awkwardness, to broken friendships, and occasionally to, well, worse.

But pretending to be something I'm not, that I seem to have fewer problems with.

At first, I tried the trick that all good guide-books of a certain vintage advise for women who find themselves compelled to travel on their own (and at that time it probably mainly was compulsion, rather than preference). I wore a wedding ring on the third finger of my left hand and had a cover story of how my "husband" had been required to go on an urgent business trip, and I was following behind at a more leisurely pace. I could never quite pull it off, though. I don't know what it was that gave me away, but it didn't appear to be quite the deterrent I had hoped for.

In the end, it was my long and hesitant journey into the heart of discovering my true gender that gave me the answer that has worked much better: to travel everywhere as a man. My passport gives me away as being female, but for the most part it's not been check-in officials or passport control officers with whom I was having such problems anyway. I seem to pass adequately as male in Paris, but less so in Rome; in London, but not so much in Corsica. I still need to fine-tune things, and I still can have problems when people discern my biological sex through the masculine trappings, but on the whole I'm having to spend less time dodging men (whose general idea of British women is far from what we might hope it would be, coloured no doubt by some of the package holiday companies) who won't take "no" for an answer.

In an ideal world, I wouldn't have to cross-dress to escape unwanted attention, but in this world I find it empowering and freeing to do so. And I make quite an attractive dandy!
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Oh this is interesting. I've never really traveled alone because I really don't get to travel much anyway. What an interesting perspective. Thank you for sharing.

I love those cross-dressing monks!

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My short hair makes me look masculine sometimes but mostly my penchant for skirts and dresses means I'm not misgendered. But on the rare occasion I wear jeans, I am called "sir" as often as not, given more space than I am used to by the other men on the train, who look at me differently somehow. I am not an attractive woman but somehow when they think I am a man there is even less attention given to me, and more respect. It's a very odd thing, that often unsettles me until I remember about the trousers I'm wearing and then I can comfortably explain it. I've never tried to look male but I am intrigued what would happen if I did; your entry gives an interesting insight to that.

Very interesting! What a great idea. I would love to read about some of the adventures of your dandy persona.

Interesting and surprising that it still is so unaccepted.

It sounds like it works well for you. In this day and age, though, it seems that a woman should be able to travel alone without having to fend off unwelcome advances. This was a very interesting entry.

Great idea, and something used through history. It makes life easier, you feel comfortable, what's not to like?

This was an interesting read. I don't travel much and when I do, I'm not alone, so what you bring up in this piece is honestly something that never would have crossed my mind. I think I'll have to remember your tricks if I'm ever travelling alone in the future :)

This is absolutely fascinating! I joked a bit in my entry this week about Shakespeare heroines passing as boys, but you remind me that for some women, it really is a realistic disguise. How cool that you've found a solution that lets you travel more comfortably.

Fabulous! I must admit that I've never had unwelcome attention while travelling alone, but apparently I'm pretty scary without intending to be, which probably has something to do with it.

Neither have I. Apparently I put on such a confident facade that people think I am from around places I travel to, and even ask directions. :-)

huh. I have too much hair to hide to pass as a man I think

That was seriously a fascinating read :)

very interesting and an excellent, left-field take on the prompt

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