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“I Have a Boyfriend”

As I’ve reflected on my experience as a woman over the year gone by, I’ve found myself grappling with a range of emotions, including frustration and anger. As a solo traveler, the incessant advances from men persist, often leaving me with the sole escape of claiming to have a boyfriend.

Even when asserting one's sexual orientation, such as being a lesbian, men sometimes fail to respect boundaries. The question arises: why does a fictional boyfriend command more respect than a straightforward declaration of disinterest? It appears that men view rejection as a challenge, and the unwritten "bro code" seems to enforce a level of respect that a simple rejection may not. Women I’ve encountered have gone as far as putting fake pictures of men on their phone background, as a precaution for uncomfortable situations.

These challenges extend beyond social situations; even  seemingly mundane activities like taking a taxi alone in Turkey bring discomfort. However, the advent of services like Uber has brought a measure of reassurance by ensuring a secure journey to riders’ destinations.

In the UK, encounters with persistent drunk men are not uncommon. While I've been fortunate enough to navigate these situations successfully, many women haven't been so lucky. In Argentina, women don’t tend to traverse streets at night alone. Why do women have to navigate life in fear? 

Another concern is sexual harassment in workplaces, which remains a prevalent issue, further exacerbated by a backdrop of cultural femicide. In Mexico, women take to the streets advocating for abortion rights and protesting femicide. Even seemingly cultural expressions like reggaeton and "perrear" become forms of revolution, allowing women to reclaim ownership of their bodies.

Yet, rising incidents of women disappearing in Greece and post-COVID club injections in the UK underscore the insecurities women face. The normalization of having to confirm that you’ve arrived home in one piece reflects the dire state of women's safety.

The catalyst for change lies within the masculine psyche, necessitating a shift in perception. While societal strides have been made, there's a plea for men to embrace feminine aspects without fear. Consent emerges as a pivotal theme; the simple act of seeking permission before a gesture becomes one of the sexiest aspects of interaction.

Acknowledging discomfort in unwarranted touches emphasizes the importance of consent. Calling for men to hold each other accountable is crucial, and some male friends express desire for safe spaces to challenge their peers' inappropriate behavior.

In a world still grappling with gender dynamics, hope persists that the male psyche will evolve to understand that true attractiveness lies in embracing self-expression, respecting boundaries, and fostering a culture of consent.

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