Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Women Emerging...Seriously

What's So Unusual? This is Saudi Arabia!

It's fortunate for me that in the mall where we shop, there is a Finish Line across the aisle from the Victoria's Secret store. When my wife walks in to browse the, uh, feminine delicate items, I head across to peruse the latest Air Jordans. Not that I would ever spend that kind of money on a pair of athletic shoes, but I definitely would not be caught wandering through intimate women's apparel. I mean, where does one look? Focus on one item, and a guy is automatically some kind of creeper, and women who are perusing their next purchase MUST feel uncomfortable having guys around. Valentine's Day? No lingerie purchase for me; something I can safely buy like perfume. I get chills just walking BY Victoria's Secret, trying hard NOT to look at the larger than life, uh, models' pictures plastered on the windows. What do mothers with younger sons do, I wonder?
Anyway, if you can get why I feel a bit unnerved being in such a place, imagine how the women shoppers would feel if ONLY MEN WORKED THERE!!!
"What size would you like, madam?"
"Do you need assistance with fitting?"
"Oh, you'll look great in that!"
Don't laugh. The women in Saudi Arabia have had to deal with this forever. Seriously. Until a royal decree from the king last summer that changed the cultural bias, women were not allowed to work outside the home in any capacity. That meant buying intimate required women to deal with male sales clerks! Remember, this is a country and religious structure in which women are not even allowed out of the house unless accompanied by a male relative! For a heavily clothed and veiled woman to be SEEN by a total stranger has serious consequences enforced by the socially conservative religious "behavior police." Women who could afford to travel often bought foundations outside the country in stores with female clerks. Fortunately, things have somewhat changed.
From a tangible perspective, women sales clerks were non-existent for several reasons in addition to the religious proscription. There is little public transportation in Saudi Arabia, so women would be hard-pressed to get to work. In addition, there were no women "trained" as sales clerks so the business owners threw a hissy. (really, though, how long could it possibly take to train someone? McDonald's does it in a couple of hours!) A lack of formal education was also a barrier, but that has fallen by the wayside in recent years. In fact, education has greatly contributed to this change in public view.
Women are now educated at public expense, and the general feeling is that the country could very well use their economic output. combine that with some boycotts organized by women, and the conservatives were forced to relent. By summer, there will be ONLY women working in stores that sell products solely for women's use: cosmetics and underwear; though I wonder how many cosmetics get used in a country where women's eyes are all that is uncovered?
Next up for the distaff members of society? Driving privileges; while thousands of Saudi women have international driving licenses, they are still prohibited from operating a motor vehicle in their home country.
No wonder, with those veils, their peripheral vision must be terrible!
You go, girls! You'll be in the 19th century before you know it!


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