A couple months ago I wrote this rantypants post about why we need to stop telling women they shouldn’t travel solo. (And by “we” I mean jerky people on the Internet and not the actual “we” as in “you and me” because I’m pretty sure you and me would know better than to tell ladies what to do.)
I wrote it after reading an article on NPR, in which two male experts warned people, particularly lady-people, not to travel solo. And if they do travel solo they should never do anything as audacious as go to a restaurant all by themselves.
And then last week I found myself reading another article on NPR (because nerd). This one was about dining solo. In the article, they profiled a female food writer who, after years of ordering in room service while on trips by herself, decided to step outside of her comfort zone and go to a restaurant solo while traveling in Peru.
She was quoted as saying: “dining out alone felt like a courageous act.”
The rest of the article lauded the benefits of eating solo. (For example, we can focus more on “the experience of food itself.” Which I’m taking to mean you don’t have to share your food with anyone ever. Which is basically the one big reason I like dining out by myself. Because HANDS OFF MY CHEESE DIP, WEIRDO.)
But then things went downhill once I got to the comments.
As they tend to do.
Unlike the comments in the previous article, which basically told women they shouldn’t even bother leaving the house let alone the country, these comments did not berate the woman interviewed for doing something on her own.
Instead these comments berated her for having the audacity to say that dining out alone as a woman was brave.
“I never knew I was so courageous. I always assumed I was just hungry.”
“If dining out alone feels like a “courageous act”… you know you’ve got a pretty good life, with darn few real problems.”
“What’s so sad is that this is apparently a monumental accomplishment for her. yikes. hope she’s not planning on having kids and passing along that dna.” (Editor’s note: WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?)
I probably don’t have to say this, but judging from the names used to leave these comments, they were left by men.
So, just to recap, ladies:
1. We shouldn’t ever go out alone, especially not in foreign countries, because that’s scary and we could get hurt.
2. If we do go out alone, we should never, ever imply that what we’re doing is courageous. Because, whatever, woman, stop your bragging. Guys have been doing that shit for YEARS.
3. Also, if you do for whatever reason claim that what you’re doing is brave, you shouldn’t have kids. (Again. WTF?)
Here is the thing:
I have to agree.
Dining out alone as a woman is not a brave act.
At least it’s not for me.
In fact, I get all peeved when a waiter or another guest in the restaurant makes some comment to me about my being brave for dining solo. Because, WTF, dude, would you make that comment to a man? Besides, I’m just eating a pizza. I’m not facing a firing squad after demanding equal education rights for women.
But that’s not to say that dining out alone as a woman isn’t a brave act for another woman.
It’s just not brave to me because I’ve done it a lot.
But there are a whole host of other things other women do on a regular basis that literally make me hyperventilate with fear. For example, dating and having babies. Heck, even the act of sitting underneath a ceiling fan makes me feel nauseous and like I’m probably going to die. (Seriously, that thing could fall down and decapitate me at any moment. AT ANY MOMENT, I SAY!)
The great thing about bravery is that it’s not some one-size-fits-all situation.
You get to decide what’s brave for you. Just like you get to decide what’s unbrave for you.
If it freaks you out, and you still do it, that’s bravery, my friends.
Maybe that means enjoying tapas at a table for two by yourself.
Or, maybe, that means going to a tapas restaurant on a date and sitting at a table for two underneath a ceiling fan.
(Excuse me. BRB. Just got to go hyperventilate while thinking about that last scenario.)
Is dining solo a brave act for you? If not, what is a brave act for you?