#2. Saudi Arabia Didn't Let Women Work at Lingerie Stores
Buying underwear can be embarrassing for anyone -- how do you tactfully explain to the clerk at the other side of the counter that you need some extra room in the front of your briefs ... you know, on account of your third testicle? Well, if you've ever felt uncomfortable in one of those situations, you should be thankful you're not a woman trying to buy panties in Saudi Arabia.
You see, up until recently, only Saudi men could work at lingerie stores. Pair that with the fact that women in the kingdom are supposed to wear clothes specifically designed to not reveal anything about their bodies, and that to most of them even talking about said bodies is taboo, and you can see how that could get awkward.
"Judging by your eyebrows and lash length, I'm going to say you're a B cup."
This meant that, if a woman went in to purchase some new knickers, a male clerk would have to study her from across the room and just sort of guess which size would best suit her. If he got it wrong, tough shit: Many times, women would simply go home with the wrong underwear because they'd be too embarrassed to describe their anatomy to a man.
And they probably couldn't do it without breaking a dozen laws anyway.
This is the result of Saudi Arabia's strict segregation rules, which dictate that women can't work at certain jobs, a fact that we're sure is completely unrelated to their alarming 30 percent female unemployment rate. And if the Saudis say you can't do something, you can't do it -- they have an infamously tough religious police that will let schoolgirls burn to death if they're not properly dressed.
The current king of Saudi Arabia finally put an end to this ridiculousness in 2012, thanks to a Facebook campaign, of all things (one of those actually worked?). The royal decree turned things completely around by banning all men from working in lingerie shops in any capacity ... which resulted in the closing of 100 stores.
Newsha Tavakolian/International Herald Tribune
"You can't see my hands under this, but I'm playing the world smallest violin for the men."
#1. Ultra-Orthodox Jews Wear Special Glasses That Blur Women
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Being an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man in Jerusalem isn't all cool hats and fancy speak. Their particular interpretation of Jewish law forbids any type of contact between men and women who aren't married, which is why Jerusalem has the most polite construction sites on the planet.
But having separate buses and sidewalks to prevent the accidental crossing of paths between members of the opposite sex just isn't enough for some communities -- since people from many different backgrounds move through their streets, including women who aren't willing to keep to "their side" of the street, some men feel that they're risking eternal damnation just by going to the corner store.
Enter "modesty glasses" -- glasses that deliberately blur your vision so you can't see women.
Or men. Or stairs. Or oncoming traffic.
Unofficial "modesty" patrols have been set up in these neighborhoods, and they sell glasses specially designed to prevent a person from being able to see. For the equivalent of $6, they'll give you a pair of stickers that, when applied to your glasses, invert their purpose by making it so that only a few meters are visible, turning that bare-ankled heathen strolling down the road into a featureless blur. And if you don't wear glasses in the first place, they'll sell you a non-prescription pair for around $32.50.
What if you need to venture into other non-religious neighborhoods, where packs of unmarried women presumably roam the streets looking for men to harass? Don't worry: They also sell optional hoods and shields to block peripheral vision. We're just hoping that even with the blur a woman still looks different enough from an oncoming motorbike.
"I can't tell if that's two headlights or one."
But these modesty patrols seem like debauched liberals compared to the Sikrikim -- a group of around 100 religious men who want their already ultra-Orthodox neighborhood to become, well, what comes after "ultra"? They hope to achieve this by smashing windows, scrawling graffiti, and hurling bags of poop, all in the name of decency. One of their targets is an ice cream shop. What's so offensive about ice cream, you ask? This part:
Yes, the Sikrikim claim that licking ice cream in public promotes promiscuity; apparently, you're supposed to either rent a room somewhere and lick it in private, or just bite the thing (which would promote cannibalism). The store, which already had separate entrances for men and women, had to put up a sign asking people to refrain from getting fresh with the cones, but that didn't stop these conservative extremists from breaking into the place at night and trashing it.
Hiram H. Huckabee is a writer of humorous short stories that can be found here.
For more on international fashion styles, check out 6 Weird Fashions From History (With Weirder Explanations) and 6 Popular Fashion Trends (That Killed People).