Sunday, April 26, 2009

Nudity, taking bad risks, and feminism

My roommate and I packed up the car this morning and headed for the mountains. We drove a new route, a much more winding, somewhat longer, but generally very pretty route. We spent a couple hours wandering the main street shops of the little town we visited. We got a Thai lunch that was less than extraordinarily Thai, but was still quite edible. We bought a few varieties of fudge to snack on. We soaked in the hot springs for a while as snow flakes drifted around.

And then we drove home, and that is where the title of this post comes in. Yesterday when we visited the library together, we grabbed a number of travel themed books. Mostly guides to the various day trips, walks and hikes available in and around Calgary. But on a whim, I also grabbed a book with the unlikely title of "100 Places Every Woman Should Go." I'd thrown the book in my bag as we were leaving the house this morning, and as we were leaving the hot springs to drive home I handed her the book and we decided we'd go through it and either add the places to our collective lists of "must sees or must dos" OR that we'd mock the book.

What followed was a raucous hour as she read me bits and pieces of the book, and we collectively mocked it. We talked a lot about feminism too.

Here's what we decided: according to this particular book, a high proportion of the places every woman should go either involve new age spiritual experiences, nudity, really odd risks of life and limb, or some combination of the three. At last count, we were supposed to try nudity in California, Japan, Russia, Spain, and Croatia. As for collectively odd spiritual experiences, we were supposed to have those in Guatemala, Mexico, the US, and somewhere in Europe that I've forgotten. Odd risks of life and limb included several treks involving volcanic craters (which tended to also be spots of "energy convergences" conveniently enough for those seeking the spiritual experience as well as the risk!), oh, yes, and trekking in the mountains in Pakistan. You know, the mountains that border Afghanistan. The mountains filled with bombs and terrorists and so forth.

We've also decided that the book was definitely American in flavor. For each category, there tended to be both an exotic option, or a local option. Belly Dancing, for example could be experienced in Morroco or Turkey, but also conveniently enough, in the American belly dancing capital - Austin, Texas.

Other options included in the book featured such "feminine" attractions as sites dedicated to Joan of Arc, an Egyptian Queen, or Salem, Massachusetts, because, of course, the site of the Salem Witch Trials is something every woman should experience!

We talked for a while, too, about the fact that, as women, we're not all that gung ho on the whole feminism thing. We're just not militant enough! We talked about, as an example, the "Women's Centre" on the campus of the university where my roommate works, and I did my undergraduate degree. How theoretically, the woman's centre should be a place where any female on campus could feel comfortable. But, the fact is, that unless you're a fairly militant pro-abortion type, or a lesbian, you're not going to fit in at the woman's centre. And heaven forbid that we might actually want to have babies or husbands (admittedly not particularly high on my priority list at this moment) or that we'd value a baby over a career.

Our conclusion? We probably won't be using the book as an exhaustive guide for planning our future travels. And, while we're glad for the opportunities like voting, and equality, and education that feminism has offered, we're not all that sold on it as a movement either.

(and now, now I'm wondering if the search terms from this blog post are going to get me in trouble, and get me hate mail!)