by CLAIRE VARLEY
Traveling as a single gal has thrust a number of dilemmas my way, MM friends and I think we need to think this one through together. In the spirit of, you know, sisterhood and whatnot.
Time and time again I’ve found myself the recipient of freebies and discounts given on the simple fact that I am one of those lady things that men seem so fond of.
Here’s what I mean:
At Machu Picchu I got a free tour without employing a tour guide by letting one of the guards touch my lower arm (not upper, I have dignity) a couple of times and providing a vague response to his request that I come back and meet him later ‘by the ancient sundial’ which I suspect is code for ‘in the back of the staff lunch room’. (I didn’t go back; I’m not stupid. There is a time for getting free tours and a time for being sexually manhandled and I can tell the wheat from the chaff.)
In Lima I got a cheaper taxi fare after letting the driver take my picture with his phone because he collects pictures of ‘his friends’.
I’m just going to have to hope that he doesn’t masturbate to it.
I scored a free entry ticket into the Ollaytantambo ruins by chatting with a tour guide on the train and vaguely agreeing that I might email him to catch up when I’m in Cusco.
At the hostel in Machu Picchu I got free locker hire by chatting with the guy working there and seemingly implying I wanted to meet up with him later. This was unintentional. We were talking about how he was working a double shift and I asked what time he finished his shift. I meant so he could finally go home and get some sleep, not get some Claire, but I heard it as I said it and he looked kind of torn, like he couldn’t decide if he wanted sleep or my nookie, and he kind of found a middle ground by not charging me locker hire which to me is preferential over sex any day.
And there were countless times in Brazil when I got free stuff based on the fact everyone assumes I have functioning lady bits under my jeans (Assumes correctly*.)
Now I could have taken a stand against this but I didn’t. I could have put on my best modern feminist gal voice and said ‘thanks but no thanks’ but I didn’t. You could accuse me of using my feminine wiles to get special treatment. You could accuse me of desecrating the code of the modern feminist gal. But it’s not my fault some men think with their front bottoms whilst I think with my brain (and hip pocket.)
And it’s not like I’m being a suggestive minx – I’m like the minx’s swarthy stocky hill person cousin who sells road kill at the market and walks around oblivious to the fact her skirt is tucked into her undies. I’m hardly flaunting my sexuality (case point: I haven’t washed my clothing since two countries ago and I’ve been walking around with tissues stuffed up my nose.) Not once have I instigated anything. It’s kind of like being approached by a stranger offering candy, taking the candy and running away before he can molest you in the back of his panel van.
But I’m torn on this one, MM readers.
Claire Varley is a writer and community development worker. Praise for her blog includes ‘really funny’, ‘not the worst thing I’ve read today’ and ‘are you home for dinner or do I just need to order one pizza?’ All these comments may or may not be attributed to her Mum.
What’s a modern feminist gal to do? Do we take a stand or take the freebies? Is it a case of dignity before discounts or is it ok to take the money and run?
Please note that Claire will be reading your comments – dinner party rules apply.