‘Learning to be Zen’: Women travellers and the imperative to happy

Falconer, E. 2017. ‘Learning to be Zen’: Women travellers and the imperative to happy. Journal of Gender Studies. 26 (1), pp. 56-65. doi:10.1080/09589236.2016.1243043

Title ‘Learning to be Zen’: Women travellers and the imperative to happy
AuthorsFalconer, E.
Abstract

This paper follows the emotional management of lone, independent women travellers as they move through tourist spaces, based on my doctoral research Embodiment and Emotion in the experiences of independent women tourists (2012). Specifically, this paper will focus on ‘gendering happiness’ by arguing that women travellers are significantly compelled to feel and display characteristics of happiness, humour and ‘learning to be Zen’ in order to be successful travellers. The imperative to become, and remain, happy and humorous in the face of embodied, emotional and gendered constraints is a key feature of women’s reflections of their travelling experiences, mirroring the recent emergence of literature into happiness and positive thinking within feminist theory (Ehrenreich 2010, Ahmed 2010). Negotiating ‘bad’ emotions provides a powerful insight into the perceptions of women travellers; to remain happy can mask problematic power relations and other forms of resistance. This is not to say that emotional negotiation is not partly a form of effective resistance, rather, I wish to make room for the freedom to be unhappy and angry in travelling space without feeling failure for not achieving a successful travelling identity.

KeywordsGender, tourism, feminism, emotion, embodiment, backpacking
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Journal citation26 (1), pp. 56-65
ISSN0958-9236
Year2017
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Accepted author manuscriptLearning_to_be_Zen_Revised_.pdf
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/09589236.2016.1243043
Publication dates
Published03 Nov 2016
Published online03 Nov 2016
Published in print2017

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