As socially aware, well-traveled women, it’s tough to realize that sometimes empowerment comes wrapped in robes that seem, well, perhaps a bit disempowering. I wanted to travel to Morocco. I was living in Spain, I’d traveled on my own throughout Europe (I’ve also traveled in Asia and South America), and I pride myself on being an independent, informed, female world citizen. Many women here have written about traveling solo in Africa, and in Morocco specifically – and I even read some of their posts before I went! These women talked about the joys of traveling as a female alone, safety strategies, and cultural immersion as a lone wanderer. I would like to add another voice to the mix. Before I bought my plane ticket to Morocco, I arranged for two men to come with me. One, a native Frenchman (French is spoken in Morocco) jokingly agreed to play the role of my husband. I took him up on the offer, thinking I’d have my bases covered should an awkward situation arise…and it did.
Let me be clear: I was never physically threatened in Morocco. I found the country magical and marvelous, my walk to the Medina brought me past a Club Med (for better or worse, but invoked here just to prove a point) – I made friends with local cooks at the night market who I saw daily, and I saw incredibly colorful oranges, ladybugs, waterfalls, and mountainous vistas thanks to the amazing guides I met along the way. But I felt safer because I was there with a man (men), and safer still because I had decided to put my silver ring on my left ring finger. When getting turned around one night in some infamously twisted side streets, I found increased mental clarity and a feeling of security because I had a man next to me who spoke French and would protect me as my husband. I’m not sure that many feminists would like that, nor would many who pride themselves on their admirable ability to navigate treacherous waters alone. But I pride myself on my ability to keep myself safe and thriving while in foreign places, and so this is a tactic I might recommend to you if you feel similarly. It was an interesting thing to contemplate, this finding empowerment via linkage to a man, in a part of the world where nearly every woman I encountered was veiled. Food for thought!