The garlic was burning.  Even though I swore the flame was turned low.  In trying to settle into my expatriate life, I’ve taken up the charge of domesticity.

I’m failing miserably.  

I overcook food.  Don’t chop vegetables in a neat manner.  Lose large amounts of patience with cooking in general.  I curse and moan about it, as though I’ve lost a fair quantity of blood during a transfusion.

Myth #1 about women: we were carved from Adam’s rib to keep a peaceful and harmonious home.

If my domestic skills are any indication – I would have been tossed out of the fifties so fast –  my arse would have skimmed the curb before landing with a bang and a wave of pain.

My unsuccessful cooking and sewing excursions (I actually failed sewing because I wanted to skip that period and watch my weird friend Paula smoke cat-nip) are prime examples of myth busting on International Women’s Day.

I’m also partly inspired by Gloria L. Blackwell’s post on shattering as she calls it, those “same, tired old myths” that continue to devalue women.

Blackwell smartly correlates MythBusters, a popular television show on the Discovery Channel with a compilation created by CARE.  Through stories and videos, 10 myths about women are addressed and debunked by 10 heroes.

Some of the myths addressed:

- She asked for it.
- A women’s place is in the home.
- It’s a man’s world.

CARE  is unlocking a myth every month.  I’m personally excited to read them all.

Through the power of social media, blogs and the Internet – women have powerful voices – probably more than ever in history.  We can thank Mark Zuckerberg for something.

Many of you have called me brave (a little looney – you know who you are) and strong to have accomplished my dreams.  I have, but it didn’t happen by accepting and not questioning.

On this auspicious International Women’s Day, let’s bust a few travel myths that continue to plague the female traveler.

1) Don’t Walk Alone at Night

I ignore this without compunction, because I have to.  I travel alone, sometimes meet people for dinner or drinks, and then leave alone.  I also have to get things done in my life, which involve evening plans.  I love seeing how a city changes in mood and rites as day turns to night, so I’m not giving up that pastime.  Just be aware and know where you are going.

2)  Wear a Fake Wedding Ring 

I’ve never worn one and refuse to.  I always remember this story from teenage hood.  There use to be this neighborhood mall called Zellers.  One day the Calgary Herald reported that a woman was sexually assaulted in broad daylight as she walked to her car outside Zellers. In daylight!  In front of a busy mall!  That’s when I decided that if someone wants to truly harm you, a wedding ring is not going to make any difference. Nor does time of day.  I addressed the ring issue, so feel free to join in on the debate. White lies (“I’m a lesbian!”) or the occasional boyfriend cover story is fair, really depends on the situation.  I’ve also used the emphatic ‘no’.  It’s amazing how saying ‘no’ holds weight.

3) Women Can’t Travel Safely

Safety can apply to both genders, not just women.  I’ve heard my fair amount of robbery stories from men.  Even the occasional shocking (yet, funny in an unintentional way)  tale of sexual misconduct with a ladyboy in Southeast Asia.  ”She cleaned me out” in more ways than one.  This myth’s source is sexual assault.  Men don’t give this much thought, because sexual assault to them is probably welcome or unwelcome if they end up in an Indonesian prison.  Women can and do travel without drama or intense worries.  Bring a rubber doorstop and a whistle.  The biggest factor of all? Radiate confidence, even if you’re scared to the core.  Your evidence?  I’m still alive, aren’t I?

4) Women Shouldn’t Accept Invitations from Strangers

Life is a 50/50 quest.  In my travels, if I never accepted an invitation, I wouldn’t have been privy to sharing Tanduay and stories with a wonderful, Philippine family at Christmas this past year.  If I accepted every invitation, a night time motorcycle ride could turn awkward.  What’s really irksome about this pronouncement is lack of flexibility.  It can be rude to not accept an invitation in some countries, not to mention limiting.  Isn’t travel about remaining open?  Collecting experiences?  If I followed this, I’d be holed up in my room in the dark.  Unconscionable.  Accept invitations, but do so with a filter.

5) Women Should Stick to Safe Countries

I disseminated this in an old post about the lessons I’ve gathered over the past year and a half.  Mass media is to blame.  I turn this over to Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott of Uncornered Market.   They wrote a staggering post on travel and the media machine. By giving examples of reported disasters across the world, and then placing themselves in those countries at the exact same time, shows by persuasion how distant daily life is from the warped intentions of media stories.  I choose travel based on my curiosity and desires.  Unless it’s a reputed war zone or obtaining a visa impossible, every corner of the globe is worth an exploration.  Because all humans long for  happy lives and give joy to others – whatever the culture.  Don’t let the minority who do want to hurt others stop you.  Most of all, don’t listen to every news report or well-meaning, misplaced piece of advice.  Always find out for yourself.

Chime in ladies and gentlemen, what are some other myths I may have missed that should be debunked?

Photo: George Oates