#VanLife is in the news this week, for all the wrong reasons — a beautiful, vibrant 22-year-old woman is dead, murdered by her fiance. Body cam footage of a recent police encounter shows a terrified, distraught female and a calm, charismatic male discussing their domestic issues with police.
When the footage was released, half the internet thought that Gabby had "serious mental issues," and that Brian was her poor, patient, caring partner.
And now, she is dead.
I am also a female RVer — though I drive a large fifth wheel, not a van (I hate vans with a fiery passion), and I am solo — so, of course, people have been asking "what I think" or "how I feel" about Gabby's murder.
As a solo female RVer, I feel statistically much safer than women who travel with male partners.
As I've said so many times, women are trained to live in fear. They're trained to think if they go jogging alone or walk home from a party alone, a strange man will pop out of an alley and attack them.
The reality of the situation is that if someone is going to hurt a woman, it's not going to be a random stranger. It's going to be someone she knows and trusts. A friend. An acquaintance. A boss or co-worker. A classmate or a teacher or an uncle.
Yes, random attacks by strangers do occasionally happen — and when it does, it's sensationalized all over the news.
Perhaps this is why women are irrationally afraid of strangers, and irrationally unafraid of their male partners.
I mean, not that a song is a comprehensive overview of a serious social problem, but in my Halloween song, More Afraid of Men, only one of the villains in the song — the catcaller — is unknown to the woman. All the rest are friends, family, and colleagues.
Indeed, the CDC analyzed the murders of women in 18 states between 2003-2014, finding a total of 10,018 deaths. Of those, 55% were intimate partner violence-related. Strangers perpetrated only 16% of female homicides — fewer than acquaintances and slightly more than parents.
In other words, domestic violence is a major cause of death for women.
And people worry about my safety.
I've been full-time RVing for about a year. Before that, I was full-time tent camping for about four months. In that time, the scariest thing that's happened was the wendigo back in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
Sure, there was one night when I seriously considered pumping my shotgun to scare off a dude who was pounding on my door and windows in the middle of the night. (I don't answer my door to unannounced strangers in strange cities or forests in the middle of the night. Unless I've ordered a pizza, there is just no good outcome for me in that situation.)
There have also been four times when I opened my door in the morning, and a man was waiting outside for me. One of these men seemed mentally ill, but he might have been some kind of scammer or robber. I don't know. When someone doesn't seem stable, I don't talk to them.
The others, honestly, just seemed clueless. They sincerely didn't seem to realize that a woman might find it creepy for a man to show up at her RV, where she is camping off-the-grid and alone in the woods, early in the morning or late at night, without an invitation, and wait for her.
This is not my attempt to excuse their creepy behavior. It is not excused. They should not have done it.
But I also think the reason they did it was because they were socially stupid, not because they were trying to hurt or intimidate me. A lot of creepy guys are like that — that's why I've written so many posts trying to help them identify and cease creepy behaviors (see also: Just because you're on the spectrum, doesn't mean you have the RIGHT to be creepy; What Men Don't Understand When They Complain, "It's Only Creepy If The Guy Isn't Hot."; "Creepy" Isn't About Attractiveness. It's About Reciprocity; and That Overused Comic About "Double Standards" Actually Means the OPPOSITE Of What Dudes Think It Does.)
In these cases, I can solve the problem simply by being assertive. If you can't be assertive, you can't play. You can't travel. You can't have independence or move freely in the world. It's a valuable skill that almost everyone could benefit from practicing. And it's going to come in a LOT more handy than that pepper spray you keep on your keychain.
"I don't have time to hang out with you today."
"I'm going mountain biking now."
"You need to go now."
"You are making me uncomfortable."
I'm not the "rude" one in these situations. They are.
So, no. The Gabby Petito murder hasn't made me feel less safe as a female RVer. In a weird way, it actually makes me feel safer, because it's reminded me of just how much more likely my murder would be if I were traveling with a male partner, instead of on my own.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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