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feminism

How Men Can Stop Street Harassment: my latest article in @VICE

Earlier this week I endured yet again an incident of street harassment. It happens almost every day. So much so, that it’s almost normalized as part of my daily routine. Get up, take a shower, grab a cuppa from Timmies, and tell some douchenozzle to go fuck himself.

This incident was different because a nice young couple came to my aid. I started thinking about all the ways men can be an ally to women to women when they observe street harassment. So many men, supposedly “nice guys,” will just ignore it and pretend it isn’t happening. BUT IT IS HAPPENING, and we need your support and solidarity.

Do you nice guys call out harassment when you see it? Or do you just stand there and watch whilst thinking about how nice you are?

So, with some encouragement from my editor, I wrote about it for VICE. Read it in full here. Enjoy!

And as always, you can visit the official Christine Estima dot com to read more of my published essays, op-eds, columns, short stories, travel writing, and much much more.




The #friendzone & dudebros: my latest essay in @Vice

So this is a funny story. Last week I got into a Twitter spat with some jabroni who was going on about the “friend zone.” I was frankly shocked to see it coming from a so-called “gentleman,” (he uses that word in his twitter handle like all gentlemen do, ‘natch) because in the circles I run in, using that term is a laughable offence. Forgot that there actually are people who think that’s a perfectly acceptable term (and the word for those people is ‘nimrod’).

In any case, one of the staff writers at VICE saw my tweets and told me I should definitely turn this into a piece.

See? NEVER SHY AWAY FROM HAVING FIGHTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

I WILL HAVE ALL THE FIGHTS WITH STRANGERS ON THE INTERNETZZZZZZZ.

Kidding! (Not kidding)

Click here to read the piece in full.

As always, don’t forget to check out the official Christine Estima dot com for more of my published essays, stories, travel writing, interviews, and more.

 

 


Travelling While Woman: Check out my latest essay in @vicecanada

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Travel for women is never simple, espesh when you require reproductive health care on the road. That’s the topic of my latest essay for VICE. Solo women travelers always need to plan for incidentals that men need not – whether it’s what we can wear in any given country, to what kind of health care we can access – and many times these services are priced beyond our budget, not covered by insurance, and require extreme measures.

Click the above image or here to read.

Don’t forget to check out the official Christine Estima dot com to read all of my previous essays for VICE and many other magazines, newspapers, and journals. TO THE TYPEWRITERS!

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Check out my latest essay in @VICE: Nicole Arbour’s lack of satire

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My latest essay has been published in VICE, about the ragebait videos of Toronto cheerleader Nicole Arbour: we all know she’s racist, misogynist, and a fat-shamer, but she also loves to hide behind the banner of “satire” to get away with her bullshit. This piece is about her lack of understanding of what constitutes satire, and also, why comedy is so important and relevant when done right.

Also, I get to talk about her asshole.

 

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It’s also one of the more popular pieces on the VICE network as of right now, so that’s pretty rad.

Some new details about her have emerged since publishing this piece (which I won’t get into on ye olde blog), and I’m getting a lot of private messages from people who have worked with her and know her, who say they can confirm some allegedly criminal behaviour on her part. Toronto is a massive metropolis but it’s small enough that everybody knows everybody somehow, and if your shit smells, people are gonna talk about it. I don’t address this controversy in my piece, but it’s interesting to note and keep in mind.

Anyway, enjoy!

Don’t forget to check out Christine Estima dot com if you want to read more of my published works, included many more of my VICE essays.

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MERRY CHRIST(ine esti)MAS: 2015 Year In Review

The essence of drama is conflict. I had a lot of both in the past few years, but 2015 was oddly light and serene. I hustled my ass off, pulled every string, worked and LIVED, and received very little flack from the universe. 2015 was THE YEAR.

I started the year in New York City where I was housesitting. On a chance invite from a friend, I attended a Moth Storytelling event. I had been listening to the Moth podcast for years, and this was a story-slam event, meaning I could put my name in a hat and possibly be called up on stage. I threw my hat in the ring, decided what I would say while I was waiting in line to get into the venue, and wouldn’t you know it….

SPOKEN WORD

Live Storytelling and Spoken Word means a lot to me and I continued to do it back home in Toronto at Raconteurs:

Storytelling is an extension of writing to me. It feeds my need to tell stories and also to be a ham. I also discovered that working out ideas on stage proved excellent for cultivating written story ideas. 2015 was also the year of–

Chris Writes All The Things

Editors this year were like, “Hey Chris, do you want to publish stuff? HERE, HAVE ALL THE PUBLICATIONS YOU LIKE.”

It was like payback for many years of only publishing maybe one or two pieces every 6 months.

Of course, this wasn’t by fluke. I busted my ass, I submitted and submitted and submitted, and got rejection after rejection, but my acceptance rate kind of skyrocketed this year. I actually found myself in the odd position SEVERAL TIMES this year where I had to reject one publication because another had already bought my piece. I was selling pieces so quick, in some instances, I had to turn people down! I ALMOST sent them the lame boilerplate rejections they had sent me for years, but nahhhhhhh.

SELLING STORIES

 

The first piece I sold this year was actually an academic essay which I sold to Palaver Journal based out of a southern University. I finished my Masters Degree ten years ago, but I can still flex my chops when I need to.

Then I sold my first piece to VICE, which was really exciting because I had been reading them since 1998 and am a huge fan, so it was great to see my pieces go across the VICE network and do really well.


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Then I sold them another piece
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And then another
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And then a bajillion more…
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I found out one of my short stories made the long-list for the prestigious CBC Canada Writes Creative Nonfiction Prize, and they profiled me on the CBC website!
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Then I sold a short story to GRAIN when they wanted to buy another story of mine, but I had to turn them down because another journal had already bought it, so they asked for anything else I had, and snapped up this piece right away!
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And then I cold-pitched METRO News Canada and they printed my piece in the centrefold:
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And then EVENT published one of my Nonfiction stories in this issue:
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My bio is a BOSS-ASS BITCH
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Then I sold a travel writing piece to VERGE Magazine:
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And just a couple weeks ago, another one of my serious essays about sexual harassment and the experience of reporting it to the police was published by my old friends at AufBau:

And this isn’t even all of my publications! Just a cross-section! I also sold three more stories whose publication dates are imminent, like TOUTE SUITE, dropping in a few weeks soon! So expect to read more from me in the new year!

Speaking of HouseSitting

This year, I did back…

…to back

…to back

…to back

…to back

…to back housesitting gigs.

These pictures aren’t even all of them. In total in 2015 I did ELEVEN housesits in 12 months. Considering that 4 of them lasted more than a month, and one of them lasted almost 3 months, that’s a lot of housesitting with snugglecats and dogs and not having to pay rent.

Last name Win, first name Epic.

And it’s not over yet. I’ve been housesitting for years and years now, so why stop in 2016. Starting in January, I will be housesitting in VIENNA!!

I haven’t been to Vienna since that first European clusterfuck trip in 2005 (here are some posts about that trip…. gosh this blog is old). I was last in Austria in 2012 for my Eurail Extravaganza, but I missed out on Vienna, so I’m super excited to spend a lot of time there this Winter.

I want to to everything Viennese, like eating strudel served by Michael Haneke on a harpsichord.

I’ll also be swinging through London, Prague, and Amsterdam, so the great tapestry of adventures I’m trying to build can continue!

Hey, You Never Know

One of my main mantra’s of 2015 was “Ask and you shall receive.” In the past I’ve refrained from asking for what I wanted because I assumed the answer would be no, or, more likely, I felt pretentious for even asking. Like, who the fuck are you Christine? You got some balls asking for that.  That changed this year, when I realized that the worst thing that could happen was they’d say No. And if that’s the worst-case-scenario, it’s pretty surmountable. So with that in mind, I figured no-guts-no-glory. I’m a writer, so my income is limited (obvi). The amount of funds I can allocate to quality of life (movies, music, theatre, concerts, performances, dance, festivals, etc) is extremely limited. So what did I do when I wanted to go to an event but couldn’t afford it?

I asked for free tickets.

And I got them.

BOOM.

This year, just because I asked, I gained free entry to the following:

Once: The Musical
-National Ballet of Canada performance of Sleeping Beauty
Deadmouse: The Musical 
Basquiat exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario
-secret alt-J concert
-the Stars of the Lid concert at the Unsound Festival
Joel Plaskett Emergency concert
Bettroffenheit theatrical play
-several Toronto International Film Festival movies, including
Homesick,
Disorder/Maryland,
Bang Gang,
Summertime,
Son of Saul.

If It Ain’t Broke…

Everyone knows I’m a huge flea market person (and this year I joined the super secret but now highly coveted collective of BUNZ Trading) so this year I procured a lot of fantastic antiques at bargain prices, and sometimes, for a few tokens or a bottle of wine.

I already had a typewriter, but I still went ahead and got myself a second one. Because reasons.


My two bee-yoots, side-by-side

And then I got a rotary phone. It’s a necessity in the modern world.

And then I finally hooked up speakers to my record player, so I went on a vinyl-buying binge, and got some gems like Duke Ellington (click the little volume button in the bottom right of the vid to listen!):

and the master Django Reinhard!

With these new gadgets, I am now able to open a sassy new office… in 1979.

Speaking of Music


I went to some kick-ass concerts this year. In years past I had grown a bit tiresome of concerts (I had been a music critic for about 5 years and now I have a touch of tinnitus…) but, I guess… YOLO

This year saw me at:

-Kiasmos
-alt-J
-Chilly Gonzales
-Stars of the Lid
-Hauschka
-Joel Plaskett Emergency

alt-J!!

alt-J!

I want to stuff Kiasmos into a bong and smoke them.

 

And, my, the new music I discovered this year!

FAV SINGLES OF 2015 include:

-“Emotion” by BORNS

-“Carry On” by Coeur de Pirate
-“Landfill” by Daughter

-all tracks by Tycho
-“All Clear” by Aidan Knight
-“Let it go” by Saint Saviour

-“Black to Gold” by Dear Rouge
-“Them” by Nils Frahm

-“Pretty Pimpin” by Kurt Vile

And the Oscar Goes To…


I saw a lot of films this year, and even reviewed some during TIFF for VICE. Here are the ones that haunted me long after the credits rolled:

-VICTORIA

-The Daughter

-Son of Saul

-Homesick

-CitizenFour

-Disorder/Maryland

As you can see from this list, I am not really a mainstream/Hollywood/wide-release film person. I prefer indie cinema, the ones that make the festival circuit. They usually have no money behind them and therefore can take more risks or tell stories we don’t normally see. So you can take your Chris Nolan/JJ Abrahms/Michael Bay clusterfuck and order it on DVD. Yawn.

Get Busy Livin’

As I said, I started the year in New York (housesitting). I also traveled to my hometown of Montreal (housesitting), and just recently I went to Miami (housesitting). But I really wanted to exercise my passport, so I bounced down to Mexico, Guatemala and Belize for a Mayan Adventure!

I made a short film about my experiences, I figured it was more fun than posting a bunch of touristy photos. I call it GET RICH OR DIE MAYAN. Enjoy!

To thine own selfie be true

I’ll end this post with the one thing everyone really wants to see:
BEST SELFIES OF 2015


I don’t really post selfies anymore, but I do take them from time to time. Here are the ones I took and never posted!

Remember, you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

Happy New Year 2016, munchkins.

SEE YOU IN VIENNA!

Check Out My official website

Don’t forget to visit ChristineEstima.com for more!


Check out my latest essay in AufBau!

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Last year I wrote a couple articles for the Swiss German monthly magazine AufBau, which has been around since the 1930s when it was based in NYC, and whose contributors have included Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt. It was a great experience and they were really easy to work with. They even translated my stuff into German which was pretty nifty! So I was delighted to get a message from them a few months ago asking me to pen a personal essay for their Winter issue! The issue “Unsere Welt,” which means “Our World,” (those German lessons paid off!) is an issue that contains a multitude of essays with a global perspective on current pressing issues of the day. My essay, which they published in both German and English, is about my experiences of reporting sexual harassment in both Toronto and London, and compares/contrasts the approach taken by both police departments. Look at the side-by-side I’ve created here:

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You can check out AufBau online here, and you can read the issue in which I appear in German and in English here.

I have sold a few more pieces lately to different journals and magazines, and am eagerly awaiting their publication dates! When they hit the shelves, you’ll be the first to know! In the meantime, don’t forget to check out the official Christine Estima dot com for all of my publications, performances, and more!

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TorontoVerve featuring my Resting Bitch Face

As I hinted at last week, I was recently interviewed and photographed for fashion blog TorontoVerve and the post has gone live. I talk about my love of typewriters, and also about my writing philosophy: what motivates me, what I like to write about it, how it provides catharsis, and how all writers need to HUSTLE! And it features my beloved 91-year-old typewriter that I blogged about here.


The photographs are pretty punk-rock. I know I’m not perfect, but hey, LOOK AT ALL THE FUCKS I GIVE.

Check it out over at TorontoVerve, and also check out the last time TorontoVerve profiled me back in 2012.


My latest @VICE essay: TAMPONNNNNNS

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Check out my latest essay in VICE about the removal of the tampon tax (huzzah!) but how saying the word tampon in public brings about an avalanche of giggles and side-eye.

I say the word “menstruating” a lot. Blood blood blood blood. BLOOD CLOTS. Enjoy!

It’s one of the most popular essays on the network, which is always great to see.

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Check out my VICE category for more of my essays that I’ve written for them. And don’t forget to check out the all new ChristineEstima.com where you can find all of my published works.

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Fired Him Right In The Paycheque: my latest @VICE essay, #FHRITP

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I wrote about #FHRITP for VICE. TL;DR – dudebro comedy is a subtle art & bitches be cray. Pffft. Females, amirite?

#Satire

Click here or click on the above image to read it.

The piece is being received very well, it’s one of the most popular on the VICE network.

fhritp most popularIt’s great to see how responsive people are to this, so I’m well chuffed. I told my editor I was worried the satire therein might fall flat & people would think I was condoning #FHRITP. Lesson learned: never assume your audience won’t get it. Oh they get it.

Fanks for getting it, munchkins. YOU ARE THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS.

Check out my VICE category for all of the other essays I have written for them.

And don’t forget to check out my freshly-pressed ChristineEstima.com for more writing samples and links to my published works.

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Check out my latest @VICE essay: #ByeFelipe

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Click on the above image or click here to read my latest essay in VICE about a douchecanoe that I knew for only 2 hours TWELVE YEARS AGO and wouldn’t piss off, so I lost my shit on him. It’s probably my greatest #ByeFelipe triumph.

This serves as a reminder, ladies, when a Yoko Brono uses the term “spinster,” it actually opens up a rift in the Space-Time Continuum to 1915.

So if you’ll excuse me, I need to jump in my autogyro and head to Constantinople to meet with the King of Siam. Hope he’s not a Bolshevik!

And dudes, here’s your takeaway: if you don’t want to be written about, you should have behaved better.

Check out my VICE category for all of my other essays that have been published in VICE.

Enjoy!

And remember to check out the all-new ChristineEstima dot com! It’s where you’ll find all of my published works!

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2014 was the GIF that kept on GIFing

By the time you read this, I will already be out gallivanting through New York City, Brooklyn and Queens, hunting Space Invaders, Banksys, Hanksys, Swoons, and many more of my favourite street artists. I am here for a month, housesitting in the Upper West Side. I end this year the way I began it: on my own terms, and travelling. I have never been more free.

And I win.

Enjoy some of my greatest goofy 2014 hits, in GIF form!

Rolling my eyes at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof, leaving Germany for the last time.


Dancing on the streets of Bonn.


Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science, built by… uh… Stalin.


The best Klezmer band in Brussels right outside my window!
(hit the volume button on the bottom right corner of the vid)


The Berlin eyes have it.


The ghosts in Shoreditch’s windows


Art imitates life imitates art.


Guns in Copenhagen are beating like hearts.


Brick Lane street art goes largely ignored. (It says, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”)


Where’s the Space Invader?


I like to call this one, “Ew, I smell that, was that you?”


I like to call this one, “Oh is that really what you’re wearing? How…  brave…”


I like to call this one, “Is that a bee or a fly?”


I like to call this one, “I just had a small stroke.”


How I talk to Cats (part 1), filmed whilst housesitting in London.


How I talk to Cats (part 2), filmed whilst housesitting in Copenhagen


How I talk to Cats (part 3), filmed whilst housesitting in Enkhuizen (the Netherlands)


Now let us go out of 2014 with a bang, just like we did in Paris…

Goodbye 2014. I hope I never see you again.


Liberté, Egalité, Beyoncé

Found this on the streets of the Marais, just in time for this.

Say it with me now, class:

Je Beyonces
Tu Beyonces
Il/Elle Beyonce
Nous Beyonceons
Vous Beyoncez
Ils/Elles Beyoncent

WOMAN, MOTHERFUCKER, DO YOU SPEAK IT?

 


If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament


One of my New York fav’s Olek put this up on Brick Lane for International Women’s Day.


I love yarn-bombing and guerilla knitting!


Brick Lane is a pretty Asian-Indian-Pakistani-Bangladeshi area, so it’s great to have such a strong pro-choice statement amongst people who historically haven’t had access to abortion or women’s rights.


Calling all Feminists!

I decided to perform another spoken word piece at Spark London tonight. The theme was “fame” so I thought I’d speak about a lil’ reality TV show I once was cast in. Enjoy!

You might remember the last time I did a spoken word piece: that was much more sombre and solemn. This is more upbeat, if a tad on the “how pathetic, but I can laugh at myself” side.

Lots of people came up to me afterwards to say how much they enjoyed my piece, and then the organizers of a curated spoken word event, also run by Spark London, invited me to speak at their next event! Which is so kind of them. Yay!

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In addition, I have more good news to report! I have been invited to lecture at the 5th Global Conference on Storytelling, to be held in May in Lisbon, Portugal! This is really exciting because almost all of the other lecturers invited to this event are affiliated with a university (Professors or PhD researchers). I am unaffiliated, I’m just a gal who wrote an academic paper that the organizers enjoyed. So if any of you little munchkins are planning on being in Lisbon (and you should, Lisbon in the month of May is quite delightful), please do come and watch me flex my academic vernacular as far as it can stretch.

I’m debating whether I should fly to Lisbon, or just take the train . . . or . . . ACADEMIC ROAD TRIP!

So many projects are in the works . . . fellowships, funding, publications, and some top-secret stuff that I really want to share with all of you but I’m sworn to secrecy! Can’t wait for these projects to come to fruition and I can finally talk about them! But, in the meantime, I send you fanks for all the support, my delicious munchkins.

Life is unfolding the way it should. It’s a my-future’s-so-bright-I-gotta-wear-shades type dealie. You better stand back, cuz the woman I’m going to be is something fierce.


What I see when I use the toilet


Found this near Shoreditch High Street, London. Because of the binary colours, it took me a while to figure out what it was exactly I was looking at. I recognized the legs. Then I saw the undies. Then the purse on the floor, which at first I mistook for an empty kleenex box (and then I thought, is she masturbating?). Straight ahead, I couldn’t tell that was a door, I thought it might be a television. But then the floor revealed itself to be tiled, and she must be in the loo, I figured.

Yup, that’s what I see.


The unknown artist chose a great spot on the wall for this wheatpaste.

Top marks.


Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away…

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But first, wait in several airport terminals for hours on end with spotty wifi!
Right now I’m at my stopover in Doha. That’s the capital of Qatar, in case you never picked up a National Geographic. It’s also where Al Jazeera English is based. I watch them a lot because their news is really critical of the Western media propaganda machine, and their anchors are from England and look totally out of place.

Can you tell I’m somewhat of a grumpy flyer?

I’m a cranky, moody cow.

Moo.

Anyhoo, because of my ethnicity, everyone is looking at me and wondering why I’m not in a burqa.

Sigh.

I miss Thailand.

London, Ho!


Long term travel for the solo woman

I am told all the time that I am brave for travelling the world on my own. Not by men. By other women. There are many like-minded women such as I, but this post isn’t for them. This post is for all the women who feel like they can’t (or shouldn’t) travel on their own.

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Deciding to go

Once the travel bug infects you, there’s no known cure. Case in point, I’ve been backpacking for 7 years and I see no reason to ever stop. So when you decide that there is so much more out there for you than just your hometown, there is very little that will stop you from eventually just booking that ticket, grabbing your passport, and taking the ride.

For me, it never occurred to me to ask my friends or partners if they wanted to come with. I’ve always been somewhat of an independent lass (aka loner …stemming from being a writer, no doubt) and have always booked my travel with just me in mind. However, I know I’m not the majority. For many women, they are only travelling solo because their friends or partners couldn’t join.

But deciding to go it alone is the best choice you can make. If you actually waited around for your friends to have the same schedule/holiday time as you, you’d never go anywhere. Your friends may or may not have the same finances as you, and above all, they may not want to go to the same countries as you. There’s no reason why you should sacrifice your dream-adventure to the jungles of Borneo just because your friends only want to do package deals to resorts in Cancun.

Safety

This is the most important factor for women when deciding to travel alone, and rightly so. The UN recently released a study on the status of women and declared that “women make up 70% of the world’s poor, only own 1% of the world’s titled land, and are discriminated against in almost every single country.”

However, none of this should stop you from seeing the world. It’s important to remember that you could equally be the victim of a crime in your own city as you could whilst on the road. You have to remember that people all over the world are pretty much the same– the good will do good, and the evil will do evil. It’s true that when I was in the Middle East and in Italy and in India, the men were relentless with the catcalling and the verbal harassment. But have I also experienced that in my hometown of toronto? Absolutely.

That being said, use the same good sense you would use walking home at night after work. Be aware, keep your purse zipped and in front of you (or use a money belt like I do under your clothes), don’t listen to your iPod because it will mask the sound of anyone getting too close, keep photocopies of all your important documents in a separate compartment from your primary wallet, and if you are the victim of a crime, know that it was absolutely not your fault.

Go to the police, then go to your consulate. Call your insurance, and call your mum cuz she’s probably worried sick.

Good rule of thumb– a heavy keychain can double as a weapon in self-defence. If someone grabs you, you can whip around and either slash them with your keys, poke their eyes, or hit them with the heavy keychain handle itself. When I walk home alone at night, I always grip my keys firmly so that, in any event, I don’t have to fumble through my purse looking for them.

As for catcalling, it’s tempting to tell them to fuck off or give them dirty looks for the obscene things they will say to you (and they will), but the only actual method that works is to keep your head down and ignore them. Let them call, let them get up in your grill, but don’t give them the satisfaction. They do not exist in your world, and don’t deserve to own real estate in your brain. Seriously ladies, just keep your eyes lowered, keep moving, and ignore.

Fear

Of course, it’s natural to fear the unknown. But that fear should propel you forward, not hold you back. You’re travelling in the first place because you want to be pushed out of your comfort zone anyway. The challenge is the best part.

Fear is temporary, regret is forever.

If I had listened to everyone who tried to scare me out of going to Kosovo or Bosnia or Peru or Turkey or Lebanon or India, I never would have had those life-altering experiences or met those wonderful people who are now my lifelong friends or witnessed those places and sites normally only read about in books.

People want to tell you that you can’t go somewhere because they’re too scared to go there. Don’t listen to other people’s ideas for your life. Take on board what you think is credible and sensible, but discard what is just projection. You’ll see that most of it is the latter.

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Loneliness

Another common concern for “all the single laydeeeeeez” is being lonely for weeks on end if you’re travelling alone.

That is a real possibility, and something you have to prepare for. If you’re not someone who enjoys their own company very much, reevaluate your travel goals, because it is inevitable that at some point, you may not meet anyone or talk to anyone for days.

But there are lots of ways to ensure you stave off loneliness whilst on the road.

stay in hostels– I know many of you don’t like the idea of dorms, or being awoken by the scrunching of plastic bags or late arrivals, but the pros far outweigh the cons. Everyone in a hostel dorm is there to meet people. They are more apt to chat, to wanna explore with you, to eat meals with you, and become your lifelong friend than your average stranger in a hotel. And not just the other travellers, I’ve even made lifelong friends with some hostel staff! Remember that lots of hostellers are solo travellers as well, and therefore are more open to chat and venture out on the town together. Hostels also offer more perks than hotels– free wifi, free breakfast, free bike rentals, free tours, free laundry, free dinners, free parties, guest kitchens, cheap drinks, and waaaay cheaper than hotels. As for being kept awake by dorm noise, invest in ear plugs and an eye mask. They have saved my sleepy ass more than once.

do day tours and trips — day excursions are always populated by like minded travellers who inevitably end up chatting and high fiving during your time together.

smile– it’s amazing what a positive attitude and an approachable manner can do for your social life. Just don’t smile at the catcallers.

take local trains, subways, and buses— great way to meet locals when you stop that handsome local man for directions.

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Local customs

Women particularly are more subject to local customs and societal pressures, especially when travelling. Sometimes we have to cover our head when entering a place of supernatural worship, and sometimes we are not allowed to even enter the country without our father or husband present. It’s always super important to do as much research as possible before venturing to another country, especially the laws and legal system. Lesbian couples married in canada could possibly not have their union recognized by other governments, and may be refused entry. Some cities have different subway cars for women and men. I even once saw a sign in India that said, “to protect the sanctity of this temple, women who are menstruating are not permitted to enter.” Of course, that temple had no problem allowing the wild monkeys of the area to enter.

Remember that you have a choice where you go, and only you know what you’re willing to put up with. If being forced to wear the chador is too much for you, then don’t go to Iran. If being forced to cover your entire body in wrapping before entering the San Marco church is too much for you, then dont go to Venice. Know your limits and travel accordingly. I used to get really upset by all the rules surrounding my body and behaviour, but instead of lashing out at the locals, it’s just much easier to not give them my tourist dollars.

That being said, if you are arrested in another country for violating one of their women-centric laws, sometimes there may be very little your consulate or government can do for you. You are subject to the laws of the country in which you travel, and just proclaiming, “you can’t do this to me, I’m a Canadian!” won’t get you out of trouble, or out of jail time. So if you go, follow their laws.

Good rule of thumb – even when going to tropical countries, bring a scarf, a long sleeved shirt, and a long skirt, just in case. Cleavage and belly-buttons are usually troublesome, no matter how much that rule irks me.

Canadian women

Always check the foreign affairs website for travel advisories, health risks, vaccination requirements, visa requirements, and more that the Canadian government compiles for every single country, and keeps freakishly up to date. They also publish a free handbook for women called Her Own Way – A Woman’s Safe-travel Guide.

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Pack like a woman

Lets be honest, even the most seasoned female hardcore backpackers have at least one vanity item. Mascara, a set of heels, a little black dress, a fascinator … Whatever it is, even whilst on the road, sometimes we like to look our best. And that’s perfectly okay. Don’t feel like you can’t treat yourself once in a while because you have to follow some guy-code of the road.

Here’s some of my packing tips:
– lay out everything you want to take with you on your bed, cut it in half, then pack. You only actually need half of what you think you’ll need. Trust me. The lighter your backpack, the better. You dont need a different bra for every day of the week, you just need a couple. You don’t need 7 bikinis, you just need 1. You don’t need that huge 500ml bottle of perfume, just the tiny 40ml bottle. Besides, airports always have free perfume and moisturizer samples at the duty free. Great for freshening up between layovers.

-forgo the wheelie suitcase and invest in an amazing backpack. Despite appearances, backpacks, when worn correctly, don’t hurt your shoulders or neck or back because all of the weight actually sits on your hips. Wheelie suitcases are horrible for going up and down the staircases of subways and airports and train stations that have no ramps or elevators (aka most of the developing world). With a backpack, you are entirely mobile and have your hands free.

-lock up every access point in your checked and carry on bags. Baggage handlers notoriously have sticky fingers, as do the bus operators in Asia who like to sneak down to the luggage compartment whilst you’re asleep and steal your hardware. Keep all your money, documents, passports, iPhones, iPads, camera, jewellery, etc in your carry-on luggage, and never let your carry-on out of your site, even to go to the loo. When out on the street, thieves and pickpockets will try to distract you whilst they unzip your daypack and steal your camera, so keep it locked even on the street. When flying through the States, make sure your locks are TSA approved, otherwise they will break open your locks at your expense. Bastards.

-the local pharmacy or chemist will have anything you need: tampons, canesten, tweezers, vagisil, whatever. So don’t overpack, or freak, if you didnt pack them. Some places, like the UK, offer free condoms and birth control pills, so you can still enjoy your holiday romance if you aren’t prepared. Some over the counter medication you’re used to at home may not be available in another country, but they usually have a comparable substitute. For example, there’s no Tylenol (acetaminophen) in the UK, but there is paracetamol.

-you’re allowed to bring your makeup with you, just as long as your makeup bag doesn’t outsize your carry-on bag.

-any clothes you pack will probably get dirty and smelly, and possibly ripped or ruined, so don’t bring any expensive threads or things you can’t live without. Good rule of thumb- pack onesies. They take up less space than separate tops and bottoms, and look fricken cute.

-theft is a real problem in hostels, and you don’t know who has a key to your dorm, so if you have space in your backpack, carry a pac-safe backpack protector. When I first bought this, I thought it would just collect dust in the bottom of my pack. Seven years later, I can’t travel without it. I’ve used it in almost every single hostel I’ve ever stayed in, and I’ve never had anything stolen.

-if you’re carrying more than 15 kilos in total, you’re doing it wrong.

While you’re on the road

I always say that travellers who expect every country they visit to resemble their own had better stay home. Sure, the buses don’t run on time, and the nightclubs close earlier, but just remember where you are! And how jealous all your friends back home at work are! You are the luckiest woman in the world. And you gotta get in the spirit of things!

Remain positive, go with the flow, and don’t let anyone ruin your fun. You are not beholden to or obligated to anyone you meet, so if they shove their rain cloud of doom in your face, leave them behind in your dust. Kill them with awesome. Your trip, your way!

And remember the wise words of Mae West, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

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the ONLY time a joke about rape is funny

i just have to tell this anecdote, because everyone is talking about Tosh’s rape joke (which i found to be the best example of bullying, of inflicting pain, and of trying to control people’s responses to his stupid-ass, lame jokes… but i’ll let curtis luciani explain why Tosh’s joke was seriously fucked up, he does it better than i).

when i was living in London, England, i was at a shop, and in line to pay at the counter. there were two blokes in line ahead of me.

one of the guys yawned.

the other guy, who did not know him, STUCK HIS FINGER IN THE FIRST GUY’S MOUTH and yelled,

“YAWN RAPE!”

picture that for a moment.

now seeing as how they didn’t know each other, i thought the first guy might get a bit upset.

but no. instead, the first guy smirked and said, “it’s a good job i didn’t fart, innit?”

and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the ONLY RAPE JOKE THAT IS FUNNY.

next time you’re with one of your mates and they yawn, try doing the yawn rape. it’s a fun game anyone can play, and heaven only knows what kinda mayhem it will cause.

PROJECT MAYHEM YAWN RAPE.