Women should be able to go wherever they want to go without the fear of being harmed. Women shouldn’t have to walk to their car with keys held between fingers as a weapon. Women should be able to walk down a street alone and not fear that they’re going to be mugged — or worse. But that’s not the world we live in today and whether it’s in our own neighbourhood or away in another country, the sad fact is we have to be careful and cautious and always be on guard.
For many women, the idea of solo travelling for pleasure can be a daunting one. But for ladies who travel for business, it’s simply part of the job. One woman, just trying to do her job, got more than she bargained for while away on business.
Mary-Kathryn Tantum was in Paris for work when she was robbed and assaulted in Paris. Tantum, an experienced traveller who often travels alone for work, debated about sharing the horrific images of herself after the attack because of the shame she felt, but she decided she wasn’t going to let the men who did this to her win and shared her story.
She started off her post with a powerful truth: “This is what it can look like to travel alone as a woman.”
So she was in Paris for a conference, wasn’t in a bad area of the city and walked home alone. God forbid, right? For those who think she brought it on herself, well, that’s just sad. And terribly judgy. But Tantum couldn’t be more inspiring, as it doesn’t seem like this awful incident has taken away her power. In the future, she’ll obviously be more cautious, maybe carry a can of pepper spray but she refuses to let this attack stop her.
To her attacker she writes, “You can hurt me, steal from me & leave me for dead…but you CANNOT silence me. And you CANNOT stop me. You might have overpowered me physically, yes, but you underestimated my REAL POWER.” So damn brave.
At the same time, not leaving anything to chance either. She issues a warning to all female solo travellers, to be careful and more vigilant:
“Think twice about taking that walk, about leaving early, about being on your own after dark. I wish it were safe for you, ladies…but it’s not.”
The words that really hit home? “I am entitled to be alive, free from harm, anywhere I go. I DESERVE TO BE SAFE.” Truer words were never spoken.
Tantum wants the world to be a place where all women are safe. For women to just be women, without fear. And she wants her son to be part of that world. Her last bit of advice is to the men out there, to know that this kind of behaviour is not OK and that women should be respected.
“Don’t forget that the woman sitting across the conference room table from you had to walk there AT HER OWN RISK,” she concludes her post. “Let’s create a future where gender doesn’t dictate any of our abilities to live full, successful lives. Be kind to each other.”