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Sexism at the border: A personal account | rabble.ca
First I was held by Vermont border guards for two hours in the middle of the night on my way to visit Nashville. They searched my bags at least five times. I could not help but notice how often my lingerie and “sexy underwear” were mentioned, how often the condoms they found were looked upon scathingly, and how most of the four male officers’ questions pertained to both. I was baffled as to why this was any of their business and unsure of what their objective was, other than fondling lady’s undergarments. In the end, having nothing to go on, they gave me a limited stay visa of two weeks and let me go – at 3am in the middle of nowhere. I missed my bus and my plane, had to pay for a $90 taxi to the nearest airport and then book a new flight the next morning.
The next time it happened was two weeks later in Montreal's airport. After scanning my passport, without being asked a single question, I was immediately led to a back waiting room. When I was summoned into an office, the officer cut to the chase: "How much is he paying you to go on this trip?" He was referring to the man I was travelling with.
Confused, I just stared back at him for a few beats.
The next question was whether this man was married or not. The answer, unfortunately for me, was yes. He asked whether I was planning on sharing a hotel bed with this man. I'm not one to sugar coat things and decided that now would not be a particularly good time to be found lying. Again, I answered yes. Righteous, the officer demanded what exactly I was doing in a bed with a married man.
"That's actually none of your business."
I had kicked the hornet's nest. Inflamed, he raised his voice at me that it was his business and that adultery was a crime in America -- a crime that he could deny me entry for. He made me tell him my partner's name and date of birth and threatened to detain him, too. I pointed out that we would be in Miami for a total of forty minutes to catch our next flight to Aruba; hardly enough time to run to our gate, let alone commit adultery. The next thing I knew he was searching my bags, pulling out condoms and waving them in my face.
"I could have you charged with being a working girl! The proof is right here!"
All I could do is shake my head. This can't be real.
"This is absurd," I murmured. But he was on a roll.
"You want me to call his wife? I'll tell her!"
I raised an eyebrow at him.
. . .