Though She Be But Little: The Solo Female Traveler as an Agent of Global Change

Date

2022-05

Authors

Smith, Victoria

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Abstract

This essay explores the safety, perceptions, and potential of solo female travel. The two main goals of the project are to highlight the solo female traveler by challenging negative global discourses of gender dynamics surrounding travel, while simultaneously establishing the solo female traveler as an agent for combating negative perceptions about the countries that she may visit. I define the “Solo Female Traveler” as anyone identifying as female who chooses to travel for any amount of time by herself. Historical gender norms have created a system where femininity is often associated with staying at home with your family while masculinity is about striking out on one's own and finding adventure. In another vein, fears about females traveling alone, while sometimes based on fact and reality, are more often based on preconceived notions of certain countries and cultures that are informed by negative global stereotypes and discourses. This project attempts to demonstrate the above points by putting forth two research questions. First, what are the real threats to solo female travelers, and what threats are wrongly perceived? And second, how can the experiences of solo female travelers challenge perceptions of women’s ability to travel alone and transform negative global discourses about safety in different countries? Using four methods (statistical analysis, online ethnography, semi-structured interviews, and participant observation), my research yielded three overarching themes: Safety of the solo female traveler, Challenging Stereotypes, and Cosmopolitanism. The perception of the risk that solo female travelers face, part of which marks entire countries as unsafe, is not equitable to the actual risk that women face while traveling alone. If one attempts to measure the level of safety for a destination it should be done on a localized level. Solo female travelers do have the ability to challenge gender-based and country-based stereotypes by sharing their stories through word of mouth or social media. By participating in the act of traveling alone and coming back with stories to tell, women can learn and spread newfound ideas, as well as give back to their global community. Through this project I came to the conclusion that solo female travel is something that can be done safely, should be encouraged, and has the potential to evoke global change.

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Keywords

solo female travel, feminist analysis of travel and mobility, global citizenship, cosmopolitanism, Honors College

Citation

Smith, V. (2022). Though she be but little: The solo female traveler as an agent of global change (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.

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