Justine's white person travel blog.
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Summer is coming
I, Justine, hereby file a petition with the municipal government of Nablus, Palestine to reserve shaded sidewalks on hot days for members of society for whom extensive covering is compulsory.
[Yes, I mean women.]
Anticipating several arguments that may be made by the opposition to the proposed measure, I will preemptively rebut the aforementioned points:
1) Conservative dress such as long pants, skirts or dresses, long sleeved shirts, coats and head coverings is not actually required by law.
This is true. However there is extensive social pressure for women to don such garments, including but not limited to verbal harassment or threats, widespread familial disapproval, and stone-throwing. Although legally women are entitled to wear more heat-friendly clothing, it is undeniable that many are prevented by societal expectations from exercising these rights. As it is a government’s duty to ensure the wellbeing of its people, I posit that the government is thus duty-bound to provide public space for overheated women to move through on hot days until civil society becomes more accepting of lady skin.
2) Men wear clothes too, they might overheat if the shady sidewalks are a women-only zone.
This is also true. However, men are free to walk around with their heads uncovered wearing t-shirts and shorts if they please. Due to the social pressures described above, women are often made to feel unsafe should they do the same. While half of the population is subject to a strict dress code that the other half of the population feels the need to enforce, it becomes necessary to ensure their protection from the heat in a more proactive manner.
3) The sidewalks are public property and thus belong to everyone.
The streets, which very few individuals seem hesitant to walk in, are also public property and therefore available for foot traffic. The sidewalks, in addition to being shaded, are considerably narrower than the streets, and therefore offer less space for individuals to efficiently move through space. The added pressure of societal gender roles which largely forbid physical contact between individuals of different genders further complicate narrow sidewalk navigation for the overheated women of Nablus. While attempting to remain in the shade, a woman may need to step aside for a man to walk by at multiple points during her commute. This puts the individual who wears more layers at an elevated risk of stepping into the sunlight and thus experiencing even more heat. A simple solution would be to declare the sidewalks a women’s only zone on days which exceed reasonable temperatures.
Thank you for your cooperation with my request. I will expect to hear back within 7-10 business days about the implementation measures you will take to declare the sidewalks Y-chromosome free spaces. Please contact me should you have any additional questions.
A very sweaty ginger
We need to talk about clothing
Specifically, we need to talk about the fact that my collar bones are completely forbidden, and yet every mannequin I see around Nablus is half naked.
Ok, not all of them are actually half naked. There are plenty of mannequins in clothes that I would consider modest but can’t wear here. But for every Western business casual mannequin, there is another one wearing little more than glorified underwear. We’re talking shorts, miniskirts, tank tops, crop tops, halter tops, strapless tops, minidresses, and sexy lingerie. Then there are the mannequins who are actually in their underwear. And when I say underwear, what I mean are lacy bras and sheer g-strings. One time I even saw some naked mannequins hanging out in a window. HARAM!
So obviously it’s frustrating to me that in a city where an actual women can’t show too much forearm, fake women who don’t mind the heat can chillax in the nude at will. But aside from the whole sexist double standard thing, I have practical questions.
Mainly just one: Who the hell is buying this stuff?
There are a fuckton of clothing and lingerie stores in the city, particularly in the city center and for some reason in the old city market. They all seem to be owned and staffed mostly (if not entirely) by men.
I can’t imagine a Nablusi woman buying a thong in public in any scenario, but especially not in the presence of a man. And I’m told that there are Russian prostitutes around, but I’ve never actually seen one and this leads me to believe that there can’t be enough of them to sustain the entire city’s plethora of shopping options. So this leaves me with a few possible explanations for the apparently thriving undergarment industry of Nablus.
Perhaps the men go out and buy clothing for their wives and bring it home. While I think this is the most plausible explanation, it also seems horribly inconvenient. Anyone who’s ever owned a bra knows that there’s a certain amount of trial and error that goes into finding the right one, even when you know your size (and that’s not accounting for fluctuations over time). It seems so impractical to have some dude who’s never had boobs go out, guess your bra size, bring them home, wait for you to try them on, return the rejects, obtain new sizes, and then repeat the process. To a lesser extent, it seems that the same problem would be an issue for buying other items of clothing as well. I guess that women could window shop and send their husbands out with specific orders, but you can only guess so much about how something will fit by seeing it alone.
Perhaps these stores survive with online business. I feel like this is unlikely given my experience with less than optimal internet, and the fact that I have yet to find evidence of any mail delivery services in Nablus, but hey. You never know. Maybe they run low bandwith websites and deliver lingerie like pizza. You’d still have to deal with the issue of ill-fitting returns if the business was primarily online, but I suppose it wouldn’t be impossible.
Or perhaps the skimpy clothing stores are all fronts for a booming black market heroin industry.
We may never know.
So, what did you do in Palestine?
"I went to see an abridged middle school musical adaption of The Jungle Book."
And the costumes were better than my middle and high drama club costumes.
That’s my crazy exciting life.