When is a pool not a pool?
When it’s a war zone. Which is what a certain pool in Brooklyn, N.Y., has become in recent months.
First, here's some background. You might recall a bucolic New York Times piece some months ago about a Toronto neighborhood pool that was the essence of Canadian openness. The Times called it a “model of inclusion” in the headline over the story of a pool that has separate women-only swim times for Muslims, then transgender people. The writer was positively rapturous over the gender-neutral locker rooms (it didn’t say what folks do in terms of showers), the yoga classes from women veiled up to their eyeballs with a niqab and disabled-friendly architecture.
Switch the venue east to Brooklyn, however, and a June 29 Times story about a similar pool with separate swimming hours for Orthodox Jewish women is about religious/gender intolerance. Yes, this is new coverage of the dispute that our own tmatt dug into recently in another post ("Swimmin' Orthodox Women").
Let's read further:
Under slate-colored light slanting from the skylights, the women entered the city pool on Wednesday morning, its oxidized copper ceiling lending a mint-green cast to the water’s surface. Their swimming outfits would have been considered prudish even by the standards of 1922, when the pool was built. They swam in dresses, some with long sleeves. One paddled in thick black tights. Inside the locker room, wigs sat upside down on window ledges and benches while their owners swam with heads under ruffled swimming caps or knotted silk scarves.
The swimmers were Hasidic women, who abide by strict codes of modesty and who go to the Metropolitan Recreation Center in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for an unusual feature: It is one of two city swimming pools with gender-segregated hours. The other is the St. John’s Recreation Center in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.