One of Cuba's Ridiculous Laws
April 25, 2014
HAVANA TIMES — On Wednesday, April 23, I was notified by phone that,
after many months' wait, I was finally going to be paid the royalties
for an illustration of mine that had been used as a book cover.
I was happy to get the news (one always needs money) and, the next day,
I headed over to the Letras Cubanas publishing house.
I got to the publishing house after a hellish trip that put me in a
lousy mood and made my walk unpleasant.
When I neared the receptionist, she looked at me as though eyeing an
insect. When I explained to her I was there to pick up a check, she
starting shaking her head no before I even finished talking.
For a moment, I thought she was exercising her neck, because she shook
her head without saying anything for at least a minute. Then, a little
annoyed, she told me I couldn't go up to the publishing house because I
was wearing a tank-top.
I still didn't understand, but I took a deep breath to keep my blood
pressure from rising. I explained to her I lived in Marianao, very far
from there, and that I didn't know there was a dress code. When I
received the call, no one had explained this time. Besides, the days
have been very hot and wearing light clothing is normal.
The receptionist, who was also wearing a rather colorful tank-top,
didn't budge. She said to me: "Look, I'm sorry, I didn't make the law.
You can't go up wearing a tank-top, the law forbids it. I could get
myself into trouble if I let you go in."
Holding back the impulse to strangle her, I took another deep breath,
pictured some tiny butterflies flying all around me and asked her if
there was any other alternative, like having the person responsible for
giving me the check come down, so that I could sign the check in the lobby.
She thought it over and made a phone call. The person responsible was in
a meeting, so the receptionist asked me to have a seat and wait. I
thanked her for her troubles and sat down in one of the chairs in the
To my surprise, I saw more than ten women wearing tank-tops go into and
out of the building in the half hour I spent waiting there.
I wonder what the difference between a man and a woman in tank-tops is.
The lack of equality is blatant: they can wear a tank-top wherever they
please and men can't. This struck me as absurd, particularly if we
recall just about everyone wears these shirts in Cuba because of the
Before I left, I had the impulse to ask the receptionist whether she
would have let me in if I had shown up there dressed as a woman and
wearing a tank-top. If she said no, she would have been discriminating
Instead, I decided to simply thank her and go, to act like a normal,
civilized person who is capable of getting past people's stupidity, the
kind that make our daily lives a tiny bit more miserable.
Source: One of Cuba's Ridiculous Laws - Havana Times.org -