Approaching 40, it’s easy to think that I’m going to have to constantly justify why these adventures and challenges are taking place now, with children and responsibilities still abundant at home, no steady job, one career already behind me, when many organisations and initiatives appear to want to focus on supporting only those trying to discover themselves with an age ceiling of 26. Being overlooked for educational and entrepreneurial handouts because of my age struck more than just a nerve.
Beginning university, again, at age 34—because what I really wanted to study was illustration and publishing and being able to do so at 18 years of age simply wasn’t possible in the situation that I was in—I felt like a pariah, ignored by any outlet for financial support. Simultaneously over-qualified and under-experienced in whichever direction I turned.
But life does have a funny way of revealing itself.
Discovering this article of Solo Female Travellers over 40, is a delight to my eyes and feelings, because, to me at least, it means that this isn’t some sort of mid-life crisis; this is a time of re-evaluating who the adventurers, travellers, explorers, thought leaders and cultural-linkers are. Yes, I think I just made that phrase up but it fits perfectly. Yet, media and corporate sponsored individuals are 99.6% likely to be male when it comes to sports and adventures.
According to Women in Sport,
Commercial investment and media coverage of women’s sport remains shockingly low, particularly in comparison to the deals done in men’s sport. Women’s sport sponsorship accounted for only 0.4% of total sports sponsorship between 2011 and 2013. Media coverage of women’s sport shows similar level of disparity – women’s sport accounting for only 7% of total sports coverage.
Looking at media coverage from an adventures point of view, I was surprised that headliners being promoted were predominantly male, even though women were also headlining at the same venues. It made me question why we consider men, white men at that, to be the ultimate choice for promoting adventure, travel, or even cultural curiosity. Delving into this a little more on Twitter sparked an urge to portray that women were indeed supported in the adventure brands. (My first impression was of the surface layer, and it was too masculine for my liking.) And they are there, but are they put on the billboards just yet? Well, the ones not marketing bras, I mean.
This coming International Women’s Day theme of #BeBoldForChange will need to see these very same companies redressing the gender balance, and recognising that their own daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers, have an incredible amount to offer the world in shaping its future, in improving its ability to communicate, collaborate, understand and support, whilst also making money for businesses. Stifling these opportunities because of perceived profit risk, believing that women don’t sell adventure or fierce adequately, is also subjecting more than half of the planet to less than a secondary glance. It does seem a bit silly to not promote to the majority gender.
We rediscover ourselves probably every decade, we constantly evolve as beings as we learn, grow, adapt, reshape our actions and our paradigms. We haven’t yet escaped teaching our children that the funnel of education and work goes one way, but at some point we will get it, and we will recognise that life doesn’t begin and end at any age, it continuously evolves.
This morning on the Radio 4 Today programme they announced that South Korean women are the first nation to reach an average life expectancy of over 90 years.
That’s an awfully long time to believe that your travelling, adventure and self-(re)-discovery days are over if you’ve already approached post-thirties. If I had my way, I’d be in my 100th year and still be going on my mindful, creative adventures, still discovering, still running, still learning, still sharing what is out there.
Will I be influenced by the advertisement of strapping, god-like, young men? Probably not.
#womeninadventure #travelling #selfdiscovery #IWD2017