If she goes this ballistic over sexual harassment in the U.S., she certainly won’t be able to deal in [insert country where women are treated worse]!, you are probably saying to yourself.
I will put up with all kinds of things abroad –and have– that I won’t tolerate for an instant at home. If someone offered me a job in Afghanistan, where I have wanted to work for a very long time, I would be fine with the dress code, because I know that women’s freedom to dress as they please is not on the radar of even most liberal Afghans. In a place like Afghanistan, there are far more immediate will-I-see-tomorrow? matters to contend with, especially for women. Most Afghan women, including activists and aid workers, find the Western obsession with their clothing counterproductive and self-serving when issues like widow poverty and the shortage of women’s shelters don’t get nearly as much media play as the burqa does.
Abiding by rules I disagree with regarding women’s clothing is a concession I’d make without hesitation if it meant I could work on the Big Things. I’d even grit my teeth and endure the inappropriate touching Afghan and expat women experience (though less expat women now, from what I’ve heard, because fewer expats brave the streets these days).
What I won’t do is change my behaviour or dress (again) in my own country, or swallow my pride and passively put up with the rude remarks, hungry stares, and grabby hands of bored misogynists loitering on the streets of my city. They are the ones who need to change, not me.