18 August 2009


last night i had my first anxiety dream about walking. it's a tediously long "and then" narrative, with a bit of "when did you even decide to stay in the hotel? you have just arrived after walking the wrong way along the coast, and you have only just had a conversation with the travel agent about how trains to penzance only go every second day? but now you have to RE-PACK YOUR BAGS AND RUN FOR THE FERRY, YOU IDIOT!" thrown in.

on the plus side, this means we are leaving soon! yay! on the minus side, i am tired after waking up 2 hours before i wanted to be awake.


my friend hope has written an interesting post about the massive amounts of male privilege involved in the kind of drifting, whimsical travel undertaken by writers like bill bryson (and tv presenters, too). go and read it and comment! i've been meaning to make a related post here for a while, but i think i'll just post my comment here instead, and send you to hope's journal for discussions.

i've actually been thinking about writing something on the walking blog about all the terrific adventures had in travel writing . . . by passing-as-heterosexual, cis, white men. i mean, i love nicholas crane, and i think two degrees west actually shits all over notes from a small island (or maybe i can just relate to it more?), but i'm still . . . can you see a black man easily being able to get these stories out of gruff landlords? do you think the army would treat a woman asking to cross their firing range with the same respect? would a trans and/or visibly queer person be so comfortable marching through the backwaters and presumably having to wash in public? (and this doesn't even begin to touch on the able-bodied privilege of a lot of travel in general.)

i then went on to ask: and what does it say that as i pass more and more as a guy, it's as though i find these adventurous possibilities opening up to me? it's not just "check out what i did!" coming from these narratives, it's "you could try something like this, too!" this kind of subliminal encouragement is the force of privilege at work, absolutely. most of the books are by men. white men. that's me! i can have those adventures!* and as my attitude to travel has changed, i've become angrier and sadder about the 25-or-so years of my life when there i wasn't encouraged and supported and valued as someone who could do that.

and so, as hope says, "Where are the women travellers, explorers, flaneuses (sp?) on TV?" where are the trans people drifting across europe and writing books about it? where are the people of colour walking the country lanes of england? where are the people with physical disabilities presenting international travel programs? please, recommend me some tv, some walking shows, some history/travel programmes, some adventure writing done by these people!

* although being trans complicates some things so much that it's difficult to even contemplate the logistics of them. i will post about this another time.

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