It's easy when reading about the risks of violence against women to become focused on the wrongness of these acts usually committed by men. When this becomes the focus of our thoughts and discussions, the acts of women which represent strengths and courage can be lost. At times like this it can help to seek out stories that highlight the incredible abilities of women.
Often women's skills and abilities appear in the hidden private sphere of life. The day to day work that women undertake does often not appear on the front page of newspapers or hit the evening news headlines. Without diminishing the importance and value of that work and the daily struggle many women have, it can be useful to look for extraordinary, "against the odds" types of stories. Stories that highlight women's ability to do things that might typically be seen as only done by men.
One such story is Robyn Davidson's journey from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean undertaken during the mid 1970s. Her book and the film that was made following the success of the book is called "Tracks". She became known as the "camel woman" because she made this trek with a number of camels. The film highlights many of the characteristics of women. It shows her at her most determined when learning to train camels for the trip. She had to work physically and mentally hard to do this and endure the challenges faced by her first boss who promised her two camels after working for him for 8 months. When this fell through she found another way to get her camels.
The film shows her courage as she sets off from Alice Springs, waving goodbye to her sister, nieces and father. It shows her striving for independence as the National Geographic photographer came in and out of her trip. It shows her ambivalence towards him and gradual openness to his presence. Some of the most poignant moments in the story were those times when she was at her most vulnerable, weakened by the demands of the trip, yet still committed to the journey and willing to find ways to overcome the challenges.
While we won't all make a trek across the desert, we all have our own journeys that matter to us, literally and metaphorically. Robyn's courage and capacity serve to remind us all that as women we should not be hindered by the limitations society places on us. Robyn's ability to adapt to meet the demands of the environment she found herself in are human traits that apply equally to men and women. Her strength of purpose and desire for achieving her end goal are also human capacities that we should want to, and be able to, embrace.