Being The Only Woman On Board [Part 2/3]
The first thing veterinarian Dr Lynn Simpson did before boarding the livestock carriers that she worked on for the first time was to slip on a wedding ring. Even though she wasn’t married, it helped to deter unwanted attention from the men she encountered at sea and in port.
In the vast majority of cases, she found the men she worked with to be friendly, respectful, even protective. Then there was the time she woke suddenly in the night, no longer alone in her cabin because there was a man on top of her.
Lynn spoke to HRAS about the best and the worst of being the only woman on board.
What was it like as the only woman on board?
As a vet, I had to develop a way of dealing with unwanted attention if I found the crew were a little bit creepy about me being on board. Each time I joined a ship for the first time and the crew didn’t know me or stories of me hadn’t got across yet, I’d use a weird tactic. This sounds really callous but any animal that’s going to succumb to stress quickly usually collapsed by day one of the voyage or by day one of loading. So, if I knew that there was somebody shadowing me suspiciously throughout the decks and I wanted to get a message through them to the crew, I would find a sick animal that I knew was never going to make it anyway and I would put it on the ground. I’d cut its throat, because that’s what we often had to do at sea. I knew all the right arteries were severed, and I’d walk away.
I would make it look so nonchalant that I probably looked like the most heartless bitch on the planet. It looked like I’d gone to no more effort than flicking my hair behind my ears in the breeze, and I’d just walk off with the animal still thrashing on the ground. I knew it was unconscious – that’s just what they often do.
Very quickly the message would get through to everybody, and no one would stalk me again.
It sounds really awful but, that happened multiple times, usually only once per company or once per new ship. After that, I was usually left alone.