He was sweet; his suit looked a bit too big for him, and I immediately thought of the quintessential photos you see of male Latino pensioners. “Mi princesssa…” he hissed with a wide grin, turning his wrinkled and liver-spotted neck to keep his gaze on me as I picked up my pace.
My head was swimming as I marched along the street, thinking disgustedly about how many grandchildren he probably had.
But a female traveller will also face prejudice around the world, in the form of sexism and discrimination, misogyny and objectification.
Despite meeting numerous men who’ve gone out of their way to treat me with kindness, I’ve also encountered stares and shouts, lusting eyes and flexed hands from car windows and unwelcome heavy steps echoing behind me.
Depending on the country, I’ve averted my eyes and refrained from ‘upsetting’ the perpetrator, or I’ve stared back sternly, raised my voice and made sure the surrounding people are aware of my discomfort.
How on earth could a grandpa ever think it was socially acceptable to leer at a young woman like that?
As I spent more time in the continent, I quickly came to learn that this wasn’t an isolated incident. The machismo element of Latino culture seems to practically demand that men make these types of comment, and I received them so often that I almost stopped noticing.
So I would pull awkwardly at the edges of my shorts, rearrange my vest, and start walking more quickly.