We were both dressed for the July humidity; denim shorts, a thin, loose, sleeveless top, hair tied back, sunglasses over our eyes, umbrella on an arm. I wanted to see what treatment she received from the occasional groups of boys and men that punctuated each corner. As we approached a group, I saw their eyes switch to her body.
I saw them look her up and down, lips stretching into smiles.
I saw their mouths move in unheard mutters – ‘’ – and their shoulders start to sway.From behind, you wouldn’t even know that she’d registered their presence.How can she best minimise the impact of a potentially threatening situation?Above all, she will learn to trust that feeling in her gut. This simply isn’t right.” Over the last seven years I’ve travelled through Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and both North and South America, predominantly by myself.In India, I was respectful to the point of deference, because I knew how important the act of covering a woman’s shoulders, cleavage and knees was to the local culture. I can easily say I’m probably more self-conscious than most women.
I often feel people’s eyes on me – or rather, I continually notice where the people around me are looking – and I knew that I was often being stared at.
After just three weeks of living in South America, I was walking through the streets of Cuenca, Ecuador, by myself.
The stooped figure of a man in his seventies was approaching slowly, walking stick in hand, and I began to smile even before we passed each other.
The one and only facet of Latino culture I have still not changed my opinions about, because it tapped straight into a core part of my belief system.
Being treated differently, simply because I was female.
Hell, they might even enjoy the attention that I found so problematic!