Because almost everything is more complicated and because the simple-minded version of the world news we get is so very very inadequate.
The reporting on Egypt since I got back has been making me bugshit. To pick a random minor annoyance, I've seen two Beeb reports refer to the Muslim Brotherhood as "recently banned". The Muslim Brotherhood was banned in 1948. They were only legalised again in 2011. It's more complicated than that.
isn’t a bra pretty much by definition a “bondage bra?” It’s kind of the point…
I have many, many responses to this, but the safest is "No." In my vanilla life, one of the reasons I wear a bra is to not be in pain.
The vessel in the pic of me looking at the water is the Spirit of New Zealand and contains the daughter of one Emma Hart.
I showed her this photo when she got home. She was dead chuffed. And then the "my spies are everywhere" implications sank in...
I know print journalists are often upset by commenters on their own paper’s website. These comment threads seem to attract the bottom-feeders, and are barely moderated. There’s a simple solution here: introduce proper moderation, and ban trolls.
The solutions are a bit more complex, surprising, and nice than that. F'r'instance, there's a body of research now confirming something I've noted as anecdata: comments are nicer on threads where the authors of the original piece (journalists, columnists) actively engage with the commenters. Stuff and Herald writers don't tend to do this (some do, but they're exceptions) and of course this can't be done if you're getting all your Life and Style content from the Sydney Morning Herald.
It’s not that I wouldn’t love to go there, it’s that there’s still a whole lot of places in the world we haven’t traveled that involve so much less stress about our personal safety/comfort, yanno?
It's comfort, but it's not safety. The Middle East is more relaxed about demonstration of affection between members of the same sex than the West is. It's, can I stand having my relationship constantly misread? Can I handle being assigned twin beds all the time? And it's okay if the answer is 'no'. But it's not that travelling as a pair of women is dangerous.
I met a lovely woman on the Egypt tour who was bi, and who'd been working in the UAE. She talked about the LGBT scene in Abu Dabi, which functions on plausible deniability. She'd been watching women twerking in one of the underground lesbian nightclubs, and she asked one of the local women about it afterwards. "Not Emirati," the woman said in disgust, at something she'd just happily watched. "Egyptian."
And yes, as Bart implied, one of the reasons we're very glad we went to Egypt now, is that it may actually get worse in future. This might be your best chance. Pure democracy would absolutely make Egypt less safe for women.
I didn’t deal nearly so well with the Arab world
I am glad we chose to go with a guided tour, particularly in Egypt. Not only was it more secure, it meant we weren't wasting energy on customs and taxis and dodgy guides.
But I started to get sick towards the end, and spent our last two, "extra" days in Amman basically asleep in my hotel room. And there were a couple of times along the way I dipped out of activities just to get some time alone.
I would still like to go to Morocco.
Hey, I’m even reluctant to travel to America with all there border control rules at the moment.
See, I wouldn't do that either. And there was nearly a slight fracas in the last night of the tour when I said I wouldn't go to Israel. I probably wouldn't have gone to Egypt had we not already booked the tickets, and yet I'm so glad we did.
I did, of course, take a photo of one of the things we weren't allowed to photograph. One of the twenty or thirty tanks (all right, APCs) around the Egyptian museum. Or, here are some pretty gates and a pretty redhead.
Bottom line: has travel widened your world view?
Our trip through Egypt made me seriously question some assumptions, which is awesome.
But it seems like you had some bad Jordan luck as well…
Man I wish I'd thought of that joke.
I think they thought they had a role to play for the tourists.
We stayed for two days in Captain's Camp in Wadi Rum, which is staffed by Bedouin, and visited the Bedouin Camp at Lawrence Spring. (Pro tip; there's no spring.) There were no women on site at either camp. (We assumed they were in the village, where all the food was being trucked from.) And yeah, they were very much playing roles. Just before we left, I saw one of the guys, who'd been in headscarf and dishdash the whole time, wandering across the compound in jeans and sneakers.
I do have a (very poor quality) photo of our Bedouin driver bluetoothing photos to one of the women on the trip, while sitting next to a Bedouin campfire.
clerk obviously though two men booked into a double room was a clerical error.
Oh, my travelling companion and I were both Travelling as Straight, when neither of us is. Which in our case meant that we were sharing a room, and only correcting the assumption that we were a married couple with people who were on the tour.
The tattoo on my arm did eventually out me to a couple of people on the Egypt leg, including the other woman on the tour who turned out to also be bi, and just having someone we could be real with was a huge relief. We didn't have that in Jordan.
So that kind of mindless sexism is alive and thriving in NZ too.
When our Jordanian guide did eventually work out that my companion and I weren't partners, he explained that in Jordan, everyone would assume that a man and a woman together were "together". And I explained that was true at home as well, and it makes me a bit crazy.
I will talk about Egypt later, but we were incredibly lucky going when we did, because we didn't have to deal with insane crowds. I was familiar with Queen Rania (nom) and her work for women's rights, and perhaps that was one of the reasons I was surprised that Jordan felt so much more of a Man's World than Egypt.
Just as we left, the Jordanian parliament was debating passing a law to allow Jordanian women to pass citizenship on to their spouses and children, the way Jordanian men can.
Our guide was very insistent that Jordanian women can do whatever they want, work where they want, wear what they want. Then he told us about mothers going to check out prospective brides for their sons, and getting them to go and put on short skirts so they could check out their legs. Then he told us that, man, they used to take nuts with them to check their teeth, madness, what are they, horses?