In a Country Experiencing Political Unrest Near My Airbnb

I’m in an African country that is having current political unrest because of upcoming elections — sort of like the U.S. After a day or two at the location, I started hearing shooting and what sounded like bombs going off, as well as tear gas right outside of the Airbnb I’m staying in. It sounded like a war zone outside the door and I was told by security not to try to go to the main road because the police were arresting people.

I contacted Airbnb support (while there were loud explosions going on in the background that the agent heard for herself) and they assured me they would try to help me find other accommodations (full disclosure: I do not want to spend any money to book another accommodation as I still have more than three weeks left on this one).

What I requested is that Airbnb make an exception under their Extenuating Circumstances Policy as part of the “political unrest, riots” clause. I don’t think it’s unreasonable. Airbnb is a multi-million dollar company and I have just recently booked two other places in another city. Apparently, their concern for guests is superficial, at best.

I also believe that if I had been a Caucasian woman fearing for my safety in an African country, Airbnb would have acted with much more of a sense of urgency. I think because I am not, they figured I would be fine and didn’t seem to be that concerned. There is no other explanation I can come to since I’ve provided video of smoke and police converging on the area outside my Airbnb location and also a U.S. embassy security warning sent to my email the day after the first protests started. And yet, I still haven’t heard anything from Airbnb and my supposed case manager.

Can Misogynist Feedback Be Deleted?

I am an Italian host. You might wonder why I an not reaching out the Italian Airbnb website. I tried but I wasn’t very lucky. I am reaching to the US Airbnb site for two reasons: I have lived for some time in the US and there I got to know the US culture better. And so (second reason) I know people there take discrimination and bias seriously. Honestly after the #metoo movement and all its consequences I would expect some awareness here in Italy too, but unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be the case.

I had a problem with a guest who came to my place for New Year’s Eve. Since I was away for those days I thought it would have been nice to let someone get the chance to stay in my place and, at the same time, get a little extra money. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out as expected. I was unlucky to host a guest who had never used Airbnb before, expected my house to be a hotel, and expected me to be the hotel manager.

When he booked I asked him an approximate check in time. He didn’t answer for ten days and the night before check in he told me that since he already paid for the whole sojourn, he would expect me to be at his complete disposal. As I said, it was New Year’s Eve so I had plans with some friends. I told him that if he would have answered before I would have time to arrange a proper check in.

Anyway I did my best and told him my mum’s address to get the key. He did the check in alone. I left some post-its with important stuff and told him that for any questions he could Whatsapp me. Usually when I check someone in I give more details about where some helpful stuff is but I thought that since he would be staying just a few days we could just communicate via phone.

I checked on him a few times and he always said that everything was okay. He even asked me for the wifi password which is written in the house rules, proving that he had no idea how Airbnb works: he never even read my house rules.

After check out I got a surprise: some misogynist private feedback and a terrible public review. For example, he complained that there wasn’t enough toilet paper and no Schuko adapter but both were in the house. Why hadn’t he asked me for supplies? Just so he could write there weren’t any.

On the one hand I believe some people should just keep booking hotels and, as you can imagine, it is frustrating to deal with people that are not informed to be in the Airbnb community. If things would have been like this I could have let it go, but I am deeply concerned about the direction this world is going. Since I do not like it, I have sworn to myself to always try my best to make this world a better place.

This implies that I cannot let any sort of sexist comment go that attacks based on gender. In the private feedback, this guest insulted me because on my fridge I have a little plate saying “rompicoglioni della vagina!” which was given to me during a theater show of the vagina monologues (a very important show that started off Broadway and initialized the v-day movement).

He complained about the fact that I had my vagina ring (closed in its box of course) in the fridge: the vagina ring is medicinal for me and has to be in the fridge (between 2 to 6 Celsius degree) to be effective. I was told to put it in there by a gynecologist.

Last but not least, I had two used pads in the rubbish bin and of course he complained, claiming my house was dirty. In Reggio Emilia, both the recycling and generic waste (where the pads where) are collected door to door once a week; I really had no other options.

In conclusion, I feel like I am paying with my reputation, the fact that I am a feminist woman. This is wrong and should be stopped by whoever has the power to set a good example, Airbnb. Moreover, I wonder if there are any grounds to sue. Any help would be appreciated.