Around the World

When Do Bad Things Happen? Think Again

Pondering the mysteries of the universe, unmolested by anyone.

Pondering the mysteries of the universe, unmolested by anyone. Image from Erica Laue.

In the days leading up to my incredible Turkish fitness excursion, I was (understandably) peppered with all kinds of questions about the trip.

Where in Turkey would I be?

Did I trust the company that was hosting me?

Would I bring back [insert candy here]?

But, more often than not, I got this admonishment: “Be safe. Be careful. Come home alive.”

My outer response was this: “Oh, I will, it’s going to be a great trip…” (said with a gentle smile).

My inner response? “Shut your ignorant mouth before I SHUT IT FOR YOU.”

I get it. In 2013, an American woman traveling alone in Turkey was killed. Very upsetting, and very scary.

These people (friends, family, and coworkers alike) were expressing concern and trying to tell me that they didn’t want me to become the next tragic global headline. I also get that expectations of women around the world often vary, and I’m not the most skilled at concealing my ardent feminism.

But here’s the thing. In the United States, where I live, the most dangerous place for me to be isn’t alone in Turkey (or anywhere else, for that matter). It’s in my home or the home of my partner, where 60% (sometimes more, depending on the source) of rapes occur.

The most dangerous person to me isn’t the stranger walking down the street. It’s actually my husband — 40 to 70 percent of female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners.

The most dangerous position for me to be in isn’t on my own in public; it’s with a group, because rapists are looking for women who have let their guards down.

And these kinds of numbers aren’t an anomaly in the Western world, either!

The author has a ridiculously good time in Turkey, no warnings necessary. Image from Erica Laue. Mediterranean Fitness Voyage

The author has a ridiculously good time in Turkey, no warnings necessary. Image from Erica Laue.

From the standpoint of statistics, getting the heck away from my home and other people is actually a pretty safe choice.

But we forget that. All. the. time.

We focus on the stranger in the alley and the foreigner with lusty eyes. We fear-monger the women in our lives into staying in our “safe” little boxes.

The most infuriating part of this was that the most emphatic warnings came from my coworkers, who, like me, know these statistics as well as any researcher. The very people who were supposed to be encouraging me to break the mould and forge a new world for women were the ones most actively campaigning me to cloak myself in fear.

So let me say it now, to them and to everyone else who dares to tell me to “be safe” when international travel comes up: THINK AGAIN.

Think again and stop fear-mongering.

Think again and consider the implications of your words.

Think again and remember that fear is a tool used by the powerful to keep the disempowered in check.

Think again and remember that bad things happen whether we travel or not.

Think again and let me be excited to do something fun and unconventional.

I promise you, I’m more than capable of enjoying the ride without your warnings ringing in my ears.

Erica Laue
Erica first set foot on a plane when she was ten months old. 28 years, 18 countries, and four continents later, the travel bug’s still strong in her veins, and she's become increasingly engaged with issues of power, gender, sex, equality, and access around the world.

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