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The Mens Found Us

The Mens Found Us

Imagine our surprise, after spending the day skiing beautiful powder-filled tree lines in a small mountain town in the Japanese Alps, to find ourselves in the company of older, white American men. 
“You all here for a yoga retreat?” one of the mens said to me in the lobby of our ryokan as they were checking in. I let that not-to-subtle sexism slide and responded that we were here to shred the shit of pow, obvs. 
Later that evening, they returned from dinner and were upset with the service. There was too much “miscommunication,” they said. Perhaps that’s because they weren’t fluent in Japanese. 
Our groups would cross in the hallway as we made our way to the onsen. We were dressed in yukatas, which are Japanese-style robes meant specifically for bathing and lounging, that were neatly placed in our rooms. They entered the onsen in their ski gear. 
One afternoon in the laundry area of the basement, they asked one of us if we worked there.
Nothing they did or said was overly egregious. It was as if they had never seen a group of women on a ski holiday or used this thing called Google. We all make mistakes when traveling to new places; we all make mistakes in our own countries. With the unfamiliar, you don’t know until you know. This learning happens by watching other people, researching in advance, approaching each day with a curious mindset, and asking questions. It can be intimidating, humbling, and sometimes embarrassing, but it’s an opportunity for growth. 
It’s not that the mens are incapable of this; it’s that they have spent their entire lives in a system where everything has been designed by them, for them. Most things make sense, work for them, and revolve around them. There is no reason to ask a question when you already have the answer. No reason to carry yourself differently when how you show up is constantly validated.
We all know a few mens who are quite good at decentering themselves and navigating the unknown, the ones who add richness to an experience rather than comprising yours. Things are slowly changing, and the charge is being led by people like us who have frequently felt like outsiders looking in.
The most exciting part of this process is building something different. We’re not banging down their doors, demolishing their wall, attempting to fit their mold. We’re doing our own thing, and perhaps that’s why they’re so confused. 


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