My Atlas: Discovering the Real Female Traveler

Introducing L.A.DY Clever, our guide to events and news going on in Los Angeles that are of interest to women. Because a clever lady should know what’s going on in her own backyard. 


LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD walks to her grandmother’s house and gets harassed by a wolf with an appetite for little girls.

Snow White hides from her evil stepmother in a forest and is attacked by malevolent tree spirits.

Dorothy Hale gets on the bad side of a tornado and ends up in Oz, where a witch with an attitude problem makes her journey back to Kansas a nightmare (literally).

What do these three different stories, so deeply ingrained in our cultural framework, have in common? They send the same message: Stay home, ladies. Travel is not safe. Step one foot out your door and you’re at the mercy of a world that wants to hurt you.

My Atlas is trying to change that message. Actually, it’s trying to replace it altogether. Curated by writer Sasha Archibald, filmmaker and director of Clockshop Julia Meltzer, and writer Courtney Stephens, My Atlas presents a selection of films that focus on women’s travel, on women who dare to take that first step out of the door, or who are forced to. Taking place Thursdays this summer at Elysian, an artistic community space in the heart of Los Angeles, the series pairs films that feature female characters in situations of travel with live travel stories shared by authors and writers. Together, film and story work together to tackle a big problem encountered when it comes to female travel narratives: they simply don’t exist.

And if by chance those stories do happen to exist, the women in those narratives are inevitably portrayed as victims of crime and rape and physical violence, ultimately robbed of their independence and agency. This knee-jerk reaction of thinking that women travelers are either running from danger or into it, creates the dominant perception that female travel, especially female travel while alone, is inherently dangerous.“True, travel is less safe than staying at home,” says Sasha Archibald, “but it’s also a way to know who you are, to learn courage, to broaden your life experience. Women don’t get that message enough.” And the fact of the matter is that for women, just like men, a journey can be a positive and transformative life experience, one that is oftentimes even more important for women than for men simply because in our contemporary American culture and society it is harder for a woman to pick up and leave.

And if the experience isn’t completely positive, at least it’s complicated and nuanced and worth examining. At the very least, it’s worth more than a cursory glance and the passing thought: “Oh, she’s traveling by herself? Wonder how long before we see her name in the obituaries.”

The next screening in the My Atlas series takes place this Thursday, July 31st, and will be featuring Thelma & Louise with guest speaker Andrea Richards, a Los Angeles-based writer and author of Girl Director: A How-To Guide for the First-TimeFlat-Broke Film & Video Maker. Her talk will begin at 7:30 PM, and the screening will start at 8:30PM. General admission is $10 with a $7 discounted rate for students.

For more information on My Atlas, such as a complete schedule of speakers and films, and to learn more about Clockshop, the LA-based non-profit arts and culture organization that sponsors the series, check out or e-mail

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