That Time I Let Myself Be Taken Captive—Because I Didn’t Want to Be Rude
Every woman knows the delicate dance of standing up to pushy men while not coming off as “that bitch.” When I traveled solo in Iran, that mental dance became a nightmare.
Illustrations by Maggie Chiang | Edited by Lilly Dancyger
“I am so so sorry Mum. In case I am dead and you find this, it was a guy in a white car. The side mirror and the inside of the passenger seat door are broken. I made a mistake. Woops, sorry. Lots of love xxx”
Finding this note between the pages of my travel journal, scribbled on a torn piece of paper, gave me chills. I had written it months earlier, partly to try to make myself laugh, and partly because I thought it might be useful. I’d written it while sitting on a stranger’s bed in Northern Iran, having been locked in his room against my will for several hours.
Earlier that day, I’d been in the back of a battered Toyota Corolla sharing a cab ride with two giggly young girls, their colorful veils pushed back to reveal elaborate hairstyles, and an older man with deep wrinkles and hooded, inquisitive eyes. Two stout, conservatively dressed middle-aged women shared the front seat, and every so often they would crane their neck to st…