Day 12: Gender Normative Behavior in Arles

I just left my hotel five minutes ago and in that time I’ve fallen even more in love with this town.

The gender disparity I experienced in Carcassonne seems non-existent here by comparison.

Today I’ve witnessed men greeting each other and saying farewells with the traditional French double air kiss.

I saw a tired looking heavily moustached man in sweatpants and a hoodie pushing a baby carriage with a very small baby asleep inside. My heart went out to him. He had “that look;” that unmistakable hollow-eyed exhaustion and resignation of a new parent. I wondered when he had last slept… Or showered.

What struck me most about him, though, was how normal he seemed. He wasn’t at all out of place in Arles.

I doubt I would have seen a man walking around Carcassonne in such a manner. Carcassonne struck me as the type of environment where taking care of one’s baby would be sneered at and called “women’s work.”

Arles is much more comfortable and familiar feeling in this way.

When I entered a cafe that was inhabited only by a male customer standing in front of the counter and a male employee behind it, both smiled and greeted me appropriately (and helped with some language struggles with humor and kindness). There was no staring or sneering. It was a relief, and I was more grateful than I’m sure either of them could possibly imagine.

Unrelated to gender norms, I’m rather loving that it’s sunny and 60 degrees out, and that despite this lovely weather everyone is bundled up in winter coats, scarves, hats, and gloves.

I am in a short sleeved t-shirt, fleece vest, light scarf, and denim jacket, and am quite comfortable.

The employee at the cafe was aghast when I voiced a desire to sit outside. “C’est trop froid!” I insisted I would be fine, that this weather didn’t feel cold to me, and was amused when a dawn of recognition lit his face. “Ah, tu vas fumer,” he said, while miming smoking a cigarette.

I gave up on trying to explain no, I don’t smoke, and this weather is an absolute treat. The guy thinks I’m nuts and I’ll have to be okay with that. 😂

No beautiful photos yet today. Just one shot of my view as I sit here writing this post and sipping my espresso.

I love Arles so much. My heart is so full right now.

Series Navigation<< Day 11: Arles and Falling in LoveDay 12: Roman Ruins, Van Gogh, and Body Positivity in Arles >>

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