Posted By: Coco Buchanan
Disclaimer: this is a bit of a rant.
Earlier this week, I returned from a spontaneous vacation with my friend Foxy to New Orleans. I’d never been there before, and though I had a great time overall, loved the historical preservation of the city, the freedom to drink wherever you please, the beignets, etc., there was something that left a bad taste in my mouth.
Unfortunately, because of the “party” nature of the city— though to be fair, it was Mardi Gras, so this probably made it even more coo coo— there is a certain frat element that taints certain parts of the city. I mean, clearly, Bourbon Street is a giant tourist trap, but Foxy and I, in order to get to the French Quarter, were unable to avoid crossing it from the condo in which we were staying. Before I even set foot on the street and encountered the monstrosity of Bourbon, however, Foxy and I were warned about the high crime in New Orleans— which, granted, is a post-Katrina reality. Hearing it a few times a day, every day, being questioned as to why we didn’t have a male escort with us, got kind of old. I mean, Foxy and I DO live in New York, so I think we are familiar with the way large cities (larger and more metropolitan than New Orleans, even!) can be sometimes.
This constant warning of impending rape/mugging/getting shot doom compounded with the realities of encountering drunken frat boys, old men, and others at all hours of the day, and dealing with Foxy’s bratty younger brother who thought it was ok to call us “bitches” and other equally charming names, took a toll on us toward the end of our time there. Admittedly, I totally raged out at one point, and though I don’t endorse the type of behavior I chose to manifest, it was really fucking frustrating to feel powerless in this way.
More specifically, I guess I mean that both Foxy and I agreed that the most frustrating thing about it was this underlying implication in people “warning us” that somehow, the onus was on us if something were to happen as a result of not following the advice given to us. As though, by simply being women not accompanied by men walking down the street/going out, etc, there was something foolish or innately provocative about that. It’s akin to the whole “She was asking for it mentality.”
What’s worse is, in my opinion, is that that exact mentality pretty much paves the way for men to feel entitled to do whatever they want. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophesy in a way. Like, of course if you think it’s the fault of the woman for going out without a man, you feel like she’s “fair game” and you feel justified to be a dick. In my time there, some old man got in my face expecting me to kiss him, I was grabbed by various men sort of out of nowhere, and then mocked/humiliated afterwards, not to mention pretty much being called every derogatory name in the book. And that was just me. I also witnessed a pretty uncomfortable topless mechanical bull riding contest. I literally felt dirty after observing for a few minutes. I mean, it’s not what they were doing, but the fact that it seemed like the men running the contest felt like they were intimidating these women to do it for a free drink, or whatever the prize was. It was gross, and fucking humiliating.
Don’t get me wrong, Foxy and I did meet some nice people while in New Orleans (believe it or not, not all men have a burning desire to humiliate or get fresh with you!). But, I think you can look at it as an extreme example of the way many men feel entitled to behave. And so it makes me really angry when people try to either defend that type of behavior, or when people deny that it exists. It was basically like putting a magnifying glass up to a party, so to speak.
I guess my point here is that although I behaved in a way that didn’t really help me get at any root problem of the situation, I still think it would’ve been even more unsatisfying to not express my feelings at all. I realize that there are other options here. But, like, what can you really do when you’re on vacation? There should be some sort of support group for angry females on vacation. Who’s with me?