It’s one of those things you would expect to remember vividly, but I don’t. A thing you would think would stay with you every second of the day, but it doesn’t. That first time you were harassed by an employer, the time he showed you his penis or tried to press his pursed wrinkly lips against yours. It was so long ago now, and I was so embarrassed and ashamed that it hurt to remember those moments for a long time. You see I was 17, not the woman I am now, I had left home, I was live-in, on around 100 pounds per week with nowhere to go.
17 and working as a general dog’s body in a hotel that cost more for one night than my weekly salary. My parents had split up and with nowhere to go I went there. So, when he visited my room and told me he would pay for my haircut if I ‘helped him out’, I didn’t know what to do. Well, that’s not exactly true, I knew I wouldn’t take the haircut! I tried to tell some of the chefs, only one believed me. He was in his 60s, a little old man, their boss, the owner of the hotel, why would they believe my 17-year-old self?
I can’t convey the emotions I felt – scared of where I could go, ashamed that people didn’t believe me. Yet, now all I feel is anger, I am angry at our world, the one that allows this to happen, I am angry at our world that allows women to die at the hands of men, I am angry at our world that rapes you when you are seen as weak. This is one of the instances, the moments and the examples that led me to become a feminist tourism researcher and to co-edit a book on tourism and GBV. When I feel weak and impotent, I pull this moment out and I get angry and it motivates me to keep going.
See the recently published book for further explorations of tourism and GBV: Vizcaino, P. Jeffrey, H.L. and Eger, C. (2020) Tourism and Gender-based Violence: Challenging Inequalities. Wallingford: CABI