Are There Such Places As “Women Destinations”?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I just finished reading an interview with Susan Van Allen about her new book, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go To, the second installment in the “100 Places Every Woman Should Go To” series. Van Allen describes Italy as a woman’s haven, where they can “feel at home” because they are, essentially, worshiped by men. For this reason, she created this book to recommend places visit based on “sites and artworks that glorified the female.” From Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s apartment in Florence to Peggy Guggenheim’s museum, she chose places where women can connect with a monument or piece of art on the most basic level: being a woman.

However, although I think it is great that there are more and more female travelers heading out on the road — some single, some in groups — I have some reservations about classifying destinations as gender specific. Perhaps men should be included in the title as they, too, should enjoy and appreciate the “glory” of women. (Of course this would likely cause some consternation with the publisher’s marketing department.)

Women shouldn’t need specific sites to feel empowered. Traveling, in and of itself, is empowering enough. However, thanks to Oprah and Elizabeth Gilbert — author of Eat, Pray, Love — more and more women think it is necessary to find their femininity by going abroad. I don’t necessarily disagree that traveling allows someone to experience a sense of growth, but I don’t think this is limited to only women. Doesn’t that just widen the divide?

As a North American myself, I would personally find a butt-pinch a little offensive and not at all respectful. Even coming to Buenos Aires, where wolf-whistling and cat-calling are common practice, I find I have to bite my tongue. Nevertheless, I suppose for some women it is empowering to be fawned over. Personally, I prefer two-way streets. If the men can coo at the women, I only hope the ladies are reciprocating.

Anyways, the book seems interesting as an alternative to typical travel guides. I think for either sex, it could be an interesting read. (And on sale at Amazon for $12.89.)

By Brit Weaver


About the Author

Toronto born and based, Brit is an avid leisure cyclist, coffee drinker and under-a-tree park-ist. She often finds herself meandering foreign cities looking for street eats to nibble, trees to climb, a patch of grass to sit on, or a small bookstore to sift through. You can find her musing life on her personal blog,

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