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to take my mind off things...
I got the Chinese visa. That is the only thing i had still been really worried about, with regard to this trip. Apparently they like Canadians, because even though i only applied for two, short entries, i got a multi-entry visa valid for 8 years. Score.

Where i am not scoring right now is being a good Samaritan. I have tried to post my stuff up for free so that people can come pick it up, but so far only two power strips and a USB charger have been taken. (You can tell a decent person when there is an entire box of free electronics, some worth a fair penny, and the guy just takes a power strip.) The biggest Facebook group for giving your stuff away is a closed/invite-only group. I mean, WUT. Freecycle Berlin only has a very small reach. I am not sure what else to do.

If no one takes the stuff i will do my best to jam all the blankets and pillows into clothing bins later tonight, and i will put my mattress and rugs under an arch where i hope someone will pick it up before it gets rained or pissed on. It's ridiculous to be in the middle of a big city filled with needy people and the logistics just aren't there to get free stuff to them. I guess it's cheaper to buy new than to drive around picking stuff up.

So to try to assuage my anxiety around having to throw a perfectly good bedroom in the trash, and to avoid doing the housecleaning i really should be doing right now, i am going to rant about clothing.

While i was waiting for my visa this morning, i read a really fucking stupid comment thread on ONTD about those kids who were told to change their clothes before getting on a plane. Some brainwashed capitalist stooge was arguing that it's perfectly okay for private companies to set a "business casual" dress code, even if that dress code includes a blatantly sexist ban on an item of everyday women's clothing, and that it should apply to young girls as well. I mean, what the almighty fuck. Where do i start here?

I hate the politics of clothing. I hate any time society expects people to wear one thing or another thing. I think restrictions on clothing are absolutely horrific. One of the main reasons i am not visiting the Middle East on my upcoming journey - despite loving the food and being extremely interested in the history - are clothing norms and laws. I fucking refuse to accept that wearing a tank-top is offensive, just like i refuse to accept people in the West banning burkinis or headscarves. No one should ever get to tell anyone else what they can wear. For fuck's fucking sake. How is this still a thing?

For a long time, one of my primary decision points about whether i would accept a job is if they had a dress code. While it makes practical sense that certain jobs have dress codes (e.g. steel-cap boots on a construction site, armored vests in a warzone), in the vast majority of jobs the only reason to force people to wear certain clothing is either tradition or classism, and fuck both of those things. It is patently absurd that most office workers be expected to wear "business casual", let alone formal business wear. What kind of nonsense is it where people have to spend their own goddamn money on clothes that exist solely for the purpose of going to a job they are supposed to be getting paid to do?

Don't even get me started on gender norms. Did i ever write about the time i was about to get kicked out of a nightclub for wearing a tank-top? Yeah, i had to get the event promoter to vouch for me. Apparently security thought i was a man, and men can't show their shoulders in nightclubs (but women can). Or what about the time my roommate didn't get let into a nightclub because he was wearing a collared shirt and dress shoes? Or what about the times the same thing has happened in reverse because some nightclubs inexplicably think sneakers are inappropriate attire for women. Or fucking nightclubs that ban blue jeans on any gender. I mean. Don't fucking police my shit man. It makes me so, so, so mad.

I cannot even how mad it makes me. And i am not against the concept of dressing up. I have some friends who are obsessed with clothes. Just the other day a friend proudly showed off his latest set of bespoke dress shirts. He wears tailored suits to every occasion and clearly loves it. One of my ex-colleagues used to come to work hilariously overdressed for the tech industry, but he loved couture, so why not? Fashion is an art form with a rich history so of course there are people who love expressing themselves through it. But dress codes ain't fashion.

If someone wants to wear jeans, or a hoodie, or motherfucking leggings - on a plane! - then what the hell right does anyone else have to judge that? What kind of oppressive, bizarro, 19th century world are we living in where people still care what clothes you wear ANYWHERE? To call someone unprofessional or low rent or animal just because they choose to be comfortable... Jesus... It blows my freaking mind that anyone in the modern world can think this way.

Yeah there are far greater injustices happening in the world than policing people's clothing but come on. Clothing is one of the basic needs. You gonna get on someone's case for that, you really have lost your heart somewhere along the way.
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"Business casual" is one of those oxymorons that drives me completely insane. Seriously. What does that even mean?

I wish I was talented enough to ignore dress codes. As it stands I like to conform to the letter of them, and go completely hog-wild on anything that isn't explicitly covered. My last corporate job failed to mention hair colour, so I ran with purple for quite a while.

I am not sure you need to be talented to ignore dress codes, but you do need to be okay working at "hip" tech companies instead of more traditional places. Since I have started to find "hip" tech companies kind of insufferable I may end up crashing into the dress code thing in a future job. I don't know what I will do. I am so, so uncomfortable wearing "business" clothes. First world problems, eh?

My first sysadmin gig was with a "hip" company. One of the most dysfunctional groups of people I've ever met. I don't think two weeks went by without someone walking out of the CEO's office in tears. Over the time I was there they transitioned into a more traditional -looking- place (they were still just as dysfunctional) to the point where we actually had embroidered uniform shirts. I quit not long after.

are there, like, homeless shelters or shelters for domestic abuse survivors or something that would take donated bedding and electronics and stuff? that's so ridiculous that that fb group is closed. i mean, how do people expect to get rid of their stuff if only a limited group gets to see what's on offer? if you do end up leaving everything outside, i hope people who need it find it.

yay for getting the visa, tho.

Isn't it crazy? I was lucky the admins added me to the group with enough time that almost all my stuff got picked up.

I do hope that someone made use of the rug and various USB and audio cables I left on the street, though.

FYI -- I know that donating mattresses can be problematic because of the danger of them being infested with bedbugs. I know someone who took a mattress that was sitting outside for the taking, and quickly found out WHY it was there. Her apartment ended up infested.

It is strange that we don't have a streamlined way to get all the donated things to those who need those things. So many useful things end up thrown out and polluting landfills instead of finding another life. I was heartbroken how many useful things I threw out after Hurricane Matthew.

I totally get what you're saying about dress codes. I'm a lot older than you (age 67), and grew up with written and unwritten dress codes wherever I went. It was just the way it was. I didn't question it, and basically accepted it. For example, you routinely dressed up in your "Sunday best" when you went out to eat, flew on an airplane, or even a train. Women wore hats and white gloves to church. It wasn't legislated, but expected. Girls were not permitted to wear pants to school up until my junior year of college. That was a written dress code. At that point -- 1969 -- the rules changed almost overnight as colleges quickly adjusted to liberal influences of the times, and t-shirts and jeans (bell bottoms!) became the norm. (What a relief!)

If one compares now to then, I'm relieved that things have loosened up as much as they have. I guess what I'm trying to say that we HAVE come a long way. My son wears nothing but jeans to his graphic design job, although he doesn't deal with the public, which, sadly, changes the expectation of what you wear. The reality is that all societies continue to make judgments about people based on how they dress. That leggings incident by that airline is proof that judging on clothing choice -- especially on women -- is alive and well, and there are these nasty stereotypes that need to end -- like, for example (at least in the USA), black men in hoodies are more likely to get shot.

Regarding donations - in Toronto (and in Berlin) there are several charities who will come to your place and pick up your old stuff to either sell in thrift stores or donate. The problem is you need enough stuff of high enough quality that it's worth the cost of the charity sending a guy to pick it up. Tricky problem.

I am very glad I managed to get rid of all my stuff "freelance" in the end. My mattress was picked up by a trio Scandinavian teenagers, presumably students, and my bedclothes by a grateful young mother. Their smiles were worth more than the tax write-off the Furniture Bank gave me when I donated my stuff before leaving Toronto.

Thanks for sharing your insight into the history of dress codes and dress norms for women and people in general. It's good that things are getting better. I know people will always judge one another based on their presentation - whether that is clothes or hairstyles or whatever - but I do hope that at some point we will reach a stage where at least there aren't any formal restrictions.

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