Travel on a G-string

Posted on May 6, 2012

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‘Are you attractive but don’t have money to travel?’ Fear not, beautiful people – there’s a new website on the scene which can pair you up with rich, generous strangers who will fly you around the globe for free, on the proviso that you are hot hot hot.

No, really, it’s a genuine website and yes, they’re deadly serious.

The Miss Travel dating site offers ‘travel dating for generous and attractive people’ and invites potential users to sign up either as a generous benefactor looking for a travel companion, or an attractive person looking to globetrot for free. It may sound like prostitution for air miles, but you’re pointed towards several disclaimers while navigating the site: ‘Strictly an online dating website. Escorts are not welcome.’ That definitely ought to stop the loaded travel sponsors expecting any special treatment from their sexy companions, then. Hmm.

Although consistently using the term ‘person’ and never directly gendering the lucky travellers, it’s pretty glaringly obvious which categories the site has decided men and women fall into. The home page features a pretty lady perching playfully on a suitcase in a short dress, while the wealthy lawyers, bankers and executives touted in the introduction video are male. It’s clearly a sugar daddy situation.

So not only are we encouraged to exploit physical appearance for financial gain, we’re told in no uncertain terms that successful business people looking for companionship are male, while desperate, broke scavengers skating by on their looks are female. For this, dear readers, is the way the world works. Strike two, Miss Travel, strike two.

It’s bad enough that the site encourages a use-your-looks-for-free-stuff dynamic in the first place, but ascribing ridiculous archaic gender roles that have no place in modern society is just poisonous.

Mr Rich and Generous, and DEFINITELY not creepy

It’s true that women are more regularly judged on their appearance, and generally pay more attention to their looks than men. We’re seen as the ‘fairer sex’. But how much of this comes from gender conditioning and society’s expectation rather than free choice? Long, perfectly styled hair, waxed legs, preened eyebrows and painted faces – these are the conventions some women grow into because it’s ‘normal’, not because they woke up one morning and decided it would be fun to whack on some lippie. Of course it’s fun to get dressed up, embrace womanhood and look pretty sometimes – lord knows I try – but when a woman can’t leave the house without preening and lacquering to a suitable standard, we have a problem.

These days many women are forgoing hair removal and skipping makeup regimes to focus on intellect and personality, and men are happier to use beauty salons and spend more on grooming products, as gender stereotypes are broken down. Social norms are being questioned and challenged, and rightly so. Which is why backwards-thinking sites like Miss Travel are such a giant slap in the face of male/female equality.

Categorising women as attractive or unattractive isn’t just stupid, vain and cruel. It’s DANGEROUS.

Miss Travel capitalises on the illusion that good looks can open doors, but conveniently glosses over the realities of how damaging it is to judge people at face value. When the world looks at a woman in terms of aesthetics they encourage her to value herself in the same way – building self esteem on physical appearance is toxic and a fast-track to self-hatred. Emer O’Toole – a student who recently came under media spotlight for her 18-month experiment in hair removal, or rather lack of – put it aptly when she pointed out that if your sense of worth comes from looks, you have absolutely nothing when you wake up in the morning, before the makeup goes on.

Miss Attractive – why use silly brains when you’ve got hair as bouncy as THIS?

Miss Travel just encourages the kind of woman-hating that society’s valiantly trying to get rid of. These kind of attitudes are still rife – you just have to look at the recent slew of misogynistic Twitter abuse Tory MP Louise Mensch found herself fending off after publicly supporting Rupert Murdoch last week. The internet trolling brigade came out in full force to brand her a ‘slut’ and all manner of sexual slurs and Vice magazine kindly devoted an entire article to who would or wouldn’t want to sleep with her. No amount of irritating right wing politics deserves that kind of reaction. The issue here is that Mensch wasn’t abused for supporting an evil tycoon, but for being a woman, and an attractive one at that.

Using your looks for the excellent privilege of travelling with a rich, powerful man isn’t where things end on Miss Travel. The site states that by going on multiple trips you can actually rack up points which can be redeemed for plane tickets – sort of like frequent flyer miles for sexy people – and earn the right to go on trips ALL BY YOURSELF. That’s right, if you prove your worth eventually you can trot off to some far-flung destination without the usually necessary company of a CREEPY MAN. So even if you’re not primarily interested in meeting rich men, if you put in some time and effort with them you’ll be able to work your way towards your travelling goals. Because, obviously, this is the only way that pretty girls can scrape the pennies together.

Being attractive doesn’t dictate your path in life. Being a woman doesn’t equate measuring your self worth with what you see in the mirror. So ladies, the next time a bile-spewing website, advert, campaign or news feature tries to convince you that you’re actually a little bit worthless and it’s time to capitalise on your pouty lips and totally awesome backside to get what you need in this world, please don’t listen. Just remember that without eyeliner, hair straighteners, nail files and Veet, you are still you. And that is enough.

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Posted in: Dating, Society