Lonely Planet Travel Guides Accused of “Minimizing” Harassment of Women Travelers Towards Men


Lonely Planet travel guides often “downplay” the harassment women travel experience from men, according to a new research paper.

The Middlesex University article states: “Lonely Planet often downplays the importance of harassment and the idea that it is not worth getting angry comes up over and over again in the entryways.”

Researchers studied the free online version of Lonely Planet’s women-only section and analyzed entries relating to harassment in specific countries identified as “high risk” for female travelers on the travel blog Asher and Lyric Fergusson.

A Middlesex University article states: “Lonely Planet often downplays harassment and the idea that it is not worth getting angry comes up over and over again in entryways.”

The countries (listed below) have been ranked based on the following factors: whether it is safe to walk alone at night; intentional murder of women; sexual violence outside the partner; domestic violence; legal discrimination; global gender gap; Gender inequality index (UNDP) and attitudes towards violence against women.

The research paper highlights how “harassment is minimized and anger must be suppressed” with examples such as:

• In Argentina, whistles are described as “very irritating”, in Bahrain they are called “a nuisance” and in the Dominican Republic the advice is “although it may be undesirable, it is more of a nuisance than anything else. “.

• In the advice for Iran, it is stated that “violence against foreign women is almost unheard of in Iran, although the strange groping in a savari [shared taxi] is not (consider yourself warned) ‘.

• For Egypt, the guide states that “for many women travelers who are insulted in Egypt can be particularly annoying if you cannot understand what is being said. Once you know what the budding Lotharios are muttering by the way, you might find it more frightening than frightening.

• In Brazil, it says “you should be able to stop it by simply expressing your displeasure”, with the newspaper claiming that the words “simply” and “discontent” demean female travelers and their emotions.

• In Thailand, the guide encourages putting a man’s feelings above their own due to local culture, stating: “A Thai man could lose face if a conversation, flirtation or other attention is directed. towards him then diverted towards another person. In extreme cases (or when it comes to alcohol), it could create an unpleasant situation or even lead to violence. Women who aren’t interested in dating shouldn’t assume that Thai men have purely platonic motivations.

Sian Stephens, Senior Lecturer in International Trade, said:

Sian Stephens, Senior Lecturer in International Trade, said: “It feels like part of the authentic travel experience is that you are constantly being harassed”

The paper adds: “The absence of anger in counseling suggests that anger at misogyny and gender-based violence is an inappropriate emotion at least when a woman is not at home and represents the assumption that feeling or displaying anger abroad is culturally inappropriate.

You are told as a woman in the guides that you have to go overseas and have a bright and liberating time and if you are actually having a pretty terrible time where everyone is harassing you you may feel like you did something wrong or you are traveling wrong

Sian Stephens, Senior Lecturer in International Business, Middlesex University

“The insistence that women suppress their anger when pursuing their hobbies is particularly damaging – not because a woman is likely to be more in danger when she travels, but because the frustration caused by the promise freedom and self-discovery while being denied the opportunity to experience the most basic human emotions will be profound.

Sian Stephens, senior lecturer in international trade and co-author of the article, said: “It feels like part of the authentic travel experience is being constantly harassed.

“You are told as a woman in the guides that you have to go overseas and have a brilliant and liberating time and if you are actually having a pretty terrible time when everyone is harassing you you may feel like you did something wrong or you are traveling wrong.

“Good advice would be that it is dangerous to call attention to yourself if you are not satisfied with the attention you are receiving, but the advice that this is only a cultural practice, this is what to expect on vacation and it is better to ignore what is happening lessens the reality of the experience.

Co-author Heather Jeffrey, Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University Dubai School of Business, said: “The subversion of anger in female travel guides helps to normalize harassment and gender-based violence to some extent.

“The insistence that women suppress their anger when pursuing leisure time is particularly damaging” – Middlesex University study (stock image)

THE 20 MOST DANGEROUS COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

  1. South Africa
  2. Brazil
  3. Russia
  4. Tunisia
  5. Iran
  6. The Dominican Republic
  7. Egypt
  8. Morocco
  9. India
  10. Thailand
  11. Malaysia
  12. Saudi Arabia
  13. Turkey
  14. Argentina
  15. Chile
  16. Cambodia
  17. Bahrain
  18. Tunisia
  19. United States
  20. Ukraine

Source: Asher and Lyric Fergusson (2019)

“It’s not up to Lonely Planet to say to get angry or not to get angry, but neither is it up to them to shape how we feel about being harassed.

“The aftermath of Sarah Everard’s death shows that there is a growing anger at daily harassment, which Lonely Planet seems to imply as part of a cultural experiment.”

The research paper says guides tend to be aimed at young, single Caucasian women and should be aimed at all age groups and races.

He concludes: “Future guidebook entries for female travelers should be informed by feminist researchers and activists and should offer specific and usable details that a woman can then use to inform her decisions and actions – not her emotions. .

“A key advance in travel writing would be to recognize the intersectional characteristics of femininity and provide more useful advice to women with disabilities, women of color, single women, married women, pregnant women, young women and women. elderly women, for example. “

A spokesperson for Lonely Planet said: “At Lonely Planet, we take very seriously our responsibility as guardians of the safety of all travelers, including women. This responsibility as a trusted guide is at the heart of the Lonely Planet mission.

“Our goal is for people to travel with confidence. We are constantly working to protect the safety of travelers while not looking at the world through the lens of fear.

“Lonely Planet’s advice to women travelers and those from all walks of life is constantly revised to ensure it is factual, balanced and nuanced. When we don’t, we promise to fix it.

“We remain committed to ensuring that our content reflects diverse and inclusive perspectives, and we undertake a full content audit to ensure we meet the standards we set for ourselves. ”


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