Unpacking the Luxury Travel Industry

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Last week my old boss called me and invited me to travel with her to South Africa. When I say, “travel to South Africa,” I mean an all-expenses-paid trip to her private home nestled into the middle of a South African national park, with a chef and masseuse and daily game drives and lots and lots of Veuve Cliquot. Needless to say, it sounded like a dream — of sorts. This wasn’t the first time she’d invited me on such a wild excursion but it was somehow made vastly different by the timing of it all. After all, we’re all living through a global pandemic. The world has been brought to its knees and everyone has been told to basically shelter in place for an unknown amount of time. What’s more, essential workers are risking their lives so that we can have our necessities. …


Neither a Feminist Icon Nor a Malevolent Monarch

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When I sat down to watch Sophia Coppola’s reimagining of Marie Antoinette in the eponymous 2006 film, I did not expect the story of the centuries-old Queen of France to spellbind me in such a way. There are not many historical figures that beguile us in the way that she seems to. Not many historical figures that were equally as mythical even to her contemporaries. Marie Antoinette did not only become a well-known and notorious figure long after her death — she was infamous and propagandized during her lifetime. What is it about this young girl from Austria that has fascinated generations? Perhaps it boils down to her glamour and her gruesome end. …


A Case for Destigmatizing Our Health

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Disclaimer: If you have any questions about your medical or health concerns, consult your health care provider. I am not a medical professional.

When I first found out that I had herpes, I did what most people do — I freaked the f*ck out. I drove from the doctor's office to the nearest gas station, picked up a pack of cigarettes, and chain-smoked all the way home. I hadn’t smoked in years and yet there I was, smoking and lighting a new cigarette with the embers of that last. Needless to say, I was not okay. There was a maelstrom of shame, guilt, and confusion beginning to rage inside of me. …


A Poem on Longing and Toothpicks

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I wandered into a French restaurant;
absinthe dripping and Edith Piaf, and I sat
eating crème brûlée for dinner and drinking rosé from the Côte de Provence
I spun a toothpick between my swollen thumb and index finger
and thought of you. Thought the way you would always pocket toothpicks when you saw them,
and I never quite understood why. I remember thinking that someday
it will rain and I will be half a world away
and I will think of you and the way you told me at first that you hated the rain, and then every time we were together for months after that it rained. I will remember when you told me I bring the rain. …


Reflections on Poverty Porn, Voluntourism, and the Ethics of Travel

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Before I moved to Tanzania, I made a decision —the photographs that I would take would reflect the dynamic and diverse lives of my friends, community, and my life there. Additionally, I would thoughtfully consider any photos or information I chose to share about my life there. Too often, people travel abroad to locations they have deemed “exotic” and they share images the reinforce stereotypes about these countries. In the age of Instagram and Facebook and the dopamine surge that comes with validation through social media, people are too quick to share images that harm the communities they are visiting. In fact, many people travel for the sole purpose of achieving a certain image for their followers. When I set out to write this article, I originally wanted to explore the realities of luxury travel in post-colonial nations. As I amassed an ever-growing outline of research and data, I realized I was trying to cover too many things; or rather, that there were actually two distinct topics at hand. There is luxury travel — which is a form of neocolonialism for the richest amongst us to travel to Global South nations in order to experience the most sanitized versions of the “exotic.” Then there are the travelers who seek some sort of validation through their faux-humanitarian sensibilities — a two week trip to Kenya to work in an orphanage and take photos with the Massai. …


He’ll Either Kill Me or F*ck Me

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Disclaimer: These stories are complete works of fiction.

My first Zoom call is in thirty minutes and I know that I should be doing a guided meditation on the app that I just paid $75 to subscribe to, and have only used twice. But instead, I’m sitting on the toilet swiping through Hinge. I’m not actually pooping or peeing anymore. I’m just doing that thing where you sit and relax until your butt cheeks almost go numb, swiping through your phone planning mini lives with all the men’s faces. These swiping sprees feel romantic and ruthless.

When I see the first picture on his profile, I am intrigued just enough that I swipe down to see the rest. More often than not, men’s Hinge profiles are disastrous — dick jokes, way too many photos with fish or tigers, and apparently every single man is a world traveler. I highly doubt most of them even have passports, if they do it was probably for some shitty cruise or an all-inclusive resort vacation. I need more originality in my life. In the second photo — he is leaning back in a lounge chair with his legs wide open and he’s sipping on what looks like a mojito. I stare in between his legs just long enough to be convinced to continue scrolling. In the third photo — he is leaning against a railing, his hair is shaved on the sides but braided on the top. This is when I come to realize, with stunning excitement, that he looks exactly like my favorite pornstar. I swipe right and then cover the camera on my work laptop. Before my next meeting, I masturbate really quickly on the couch and think about fucking my pornstar look-alike. …


A Feminist Perspective on the Greek Gorgon

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The stories of ancient Greek and Roman mythology have, over the years, been rediscovered, repurposed, and reinterpreted in more modern contexts. Often times, this has allowed us to garner some sort of fable-like lesson from the stories of the Illiad or Metamorphoses. The story of Medusa continues to provoke renewed perspectives on its symbolism — including through the lens of feminism and psychoanalysis.

From a feminist perspective, Medusa’s story seems a cautionary tale of the symbolic decapitation of women and a loss of one’s power. In order to unpack the feminist implication of the mythology, let’s begin with the narrative of her story. Medusa was one of three daughters — born with extraordinary beauty and stunning hair. She becomes a priestess to her sister Athena and vows to her sister to remain pure. Athena grows jealous, as many men flock to her, only to glance at Medusa instead. Eventually, Medusa attracts the attention of Poseidon, who subsequently rapes her. Although Athena had the power to prevent this, she chooses not to. Athena is one of Poseidon’s sworn enemies, and through raping her sister, he is able to take power from her. When Athena discovers that Posidon has raped Medusa, she chooses to blame her rather than him. …

About

Tyler A. Donohue

The first job I wanted was an angel, the second was a writer. Ever since then, I’ve gone with the latter. Writer of all things feminism, culture, and travel.

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