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Wishing For An Alternate Outcome, But How?
This afternoon, I wrote this for the Conflict Resolution course I'm taking this semester; it happened earlier today:
Recently, my partner and I were returning to the women’s locker-room from swimming laps at our YMHA pool. The YMHA, which is the Jewish version of the YMCA, has strict rules designed to protect women’s modesty – for those who want the protection – including designated hours for women-only swims and a posted rule, stating that boys over the age of five are not allowed in the women’s locker-room.
Heading to the showers, we opened the door and as a small family of a mother, daughter and son were heading out of it. Dripping in our bathing-suits, I stopped nonetheless and said, looking at the boy, “This is not OK. I don’t want my tsniut (the religious, Hebrew term for modesty, which I knew she would understand) compromised by him.” He looked ashamed and afraid of my anger, and in parallel, way too old/tall, to be present in the women’s locker-room.
The woman herself was wearing a head-cover that concealed all of her hair and a floor-length skirt and long-sleeved blouse – all indicators of her Orthodoxy. She looked completely caught off-guard and asked, “What?”
“My tsniut. It’s OK for yours to be respected, but not mine?”
“It’s family-swim now.”
“Yeah, but it’s not family-shower,” said my partner, and then, “How old is he?”
“Yeah, I’m going to be naked in a minute,” I said, “and I don’t want him in the locker-room when I am.”
She didn’t answer Pat’s question and instead looked at me and asked, “What am I supposed to do?”
“Ask the lifeguard,” I said angrily and let them pass.