There have been attempts, by companies, to be more inclusive of women ... by excluding them. How so, you may ask? When they start "feminizing" a product that is inherently genderless. And worse, when they try to remedy a serious issue by covering it up with a bandaid.
"Lady Doritos" and "Bic for Her" were failed endeavors by two massive international companies that attempted to do the former. These two products attempted to cater to women ... by treating them like aliens from another planet. (Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus taken too literally.) You would think smaller-sized businesses would be more wary of committing such mistakes, but it seems they follow the big fish in the sea with their tactics, unfortunately.
An invite-only Airbnb-style accommodation platform, "GoLightly" is officially on the market now. It attempts to connect female travelers with female hosts and has properties in Dubai, London, Paris, New York and more. As good-intentioned as the platform may be, it actually treats women like prey in a house of male predators. It tries to remedy the problems of assault by offering a temporary (and not even practical) solution.
GoLightly is a private members club that lets female travelers book a female-owned holiday rental. The site offers several rental options to viewers — from a downtown Hollywood apartment to a stunning 12th-floor apartment on The Palm in Dubai.
You may be wondering (just like myself) why GoLightly came to be. On its website, the company cites media reports and research regarding the sense of safety felt by female travelers.
"A recent survey by Wakefield Research shows 89 percent of women routinely take extreme safety precautions when they travel, such as double-checking locks and looking for hidden cameras, and nearly 50 percent of women are more likely to stay in a woman-owned rental," the site reads.
GoLightly was referencing the SAP Concur 2019 study which is based on surveys conducted with 7,850 business travelers from 19 global markets. The statistic they used was referring to all those included in the survey and not just female travelers exclusively. This is not to say the study didn't highlight the concerns of female travelers. On the contrary, it revealed that more than 3 in 4 (77 percent) of female business travelers have had a negative experience (just because they are women). These experiences include being catcalled (31 percent), asked if they're traveling with their husbands (42 percent), ignored by service workers (38 percent), or having fellow business travelers assume they are hotel employees (31 percent).
So is renting a place from a female host going to change these concerns? My guess would be no. These attitudes, perceptions, and ill-treatment of women are the result of misogynistic and patriarchal societies and laws. Women's concerns will only vanish once the real problem is tackled through legislation and once the world makes women feel like it's a safe place to be in by punishing those who put that safety at risk.
As a woman, I know the struggles of doing many things alone such as traveling, walking the streets, and driving back home late at night. I check if my car doors are locked 10 times before driving, but it's not like we were born this way. We weren't programmed to repeat things multiple times before the final go, rather society has programmed us to be careful of the men out there, the very same men society has let get away with assault.
But renting out a booking by a woman won't ease any of the more serious concerns of female travelers. After all, all the Dubai listings provide travelers with the "entire place," meaning the host wouldn't even be sharing the home with the woman tourist. So how is it safer than say, a hotel room?
The platform allows you to rent a place from a female host; the latter is not guarding the doors late at night or the streets women roam on the way back home. And the platform is definitely not going to fix the flaws in the laws in place, the main source of the entire problem.
Besides, the UAE is a pretty safe place
The 2018 Travel Risk Map, which ranks various countries based on security, medical, and road safety, released a map of global travel risks two years ago. According to the data, the UAE is the safest place to visit as well as the safest holiday destination in the Middle East.
There have been numerous lists of the "most dangerous destinations" for solo female travelers, and the UAE has never appeared in the top 20. Other Arab countries, such as Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia, have.
In one of the rankings, the U.S. received a "women's danger index" of 456.31, higher than that of the UAE (450.66). The fact that the platform only has listings in Dubai - out of all the countries in the Arab region - is representative of the fact that it really didn't think its locations through. It would've made sense to see a listing in Egypt or Morocco, for example, as both countries have been repeatedly described as "dangerous" for female tourists.