The two week women's boycott of buying lingerie in Saudi Arabia has completed its first week, and I found it interesting that the only newpaper article I could find since the boycott began on February 13th was a negative one in the Arab News titled "'Unmanned' Lingerie Shops Face Problems," that only seemed to be making up excuses in favor of keeping things the same - which means continuing to force women here in Saudi Arabia to purchase their undies from salesMEN. A law was passed here in the desert kingdom several years ago allowing for the hiring of salesWOMEN to work in lingerie shops selling women's undergarments. However not much has happened since the "law" was enacted because it is optional and not mandatory that businesses comply. Historically, women in Saudi Arabia have been restricted from working in many arenas, like sales, because of the strict enforcement of forbidden co-mingling with the opposite sex. Therefore only a very small percentage of females here even work, and those that do are generally only found in the medical or education fields. So Saudi women are put into the uncomfortable position of being forced to purchase intimate apparel such as bras, panties, and sexy lingerie from salesMEN. Is there any other country in the world where men sell these products to women?
Okay, so what's the problem with hiring salesWOMEN for these jobs? Well, for starters, business owners claim that it would just cost too much. If only women are allowed into a shop, shop windows must prevent visibility into the shop. And then the business owners claim that they cannot have window displays which would attract customers if the windows have to be blocked. This seems like an easy enough problem to solve. Why can't the business owners have their attractive window displays and merely hang a curtain behind the display which would prevent people on the outside from seeing customers inside the store? This argument just seems like a very weak excuse that is easily rectified - and the cost of curtains and the hardware is minimal.
Business owners also complain that if they hired salesWOMEN, they would also have to hire a guard for protection to ensure that men stay out of the shop, which is an added expense as well. Which brings me to yet another flimsy excuse for not hiring salesWOMEN in lingerie shops - because of the strict segregation of the sexes here. Men and women are not allowed to mix socially in this society. I personally do not understand what all this hubbub is about - allowing both men and women into a shop at the same time? It happens everywhere in this country anyway. Both men and women shop together in grocery stores and malls. And why is it okay for women to make purchases from salesmen in stores, yet there's a big stink about men purchasing from saleswomen? What's the difference if a man purchases items from a woman, or a woman from a man? There is a certain amount of interaction either way. I just don't get this type of inconsistent reasoning.
Intimate apparel business owners who have tried hiring salesWOMEN are also complaining that they've experienced a high turnover rate and that the saleswomen are incompetent. Rubbish! Poppycock! First of all, make it easier for women to get to work in the first place by allowing them to drive. Having to pay for a driver or a taxi unfairly cuts into a woman's salary. Train salesWOMEN to sell undergarments and just watch them flourish. If an uneducated man from Bangladesh can sell women's underwear, then don't try to tell me that a Saudi woman can't do the same thing! Any woman can sell underwear to other women WAY better than ANY man ever could simply because she WEARS these products and men have no clue! Many women in Saudi Arabia are ready, willing, and perfectly able to work. These are just imaginary roadblocks that business owners have come up with in order to keep women out of the work force here.
So to all relevant Saudi business owners, listen up: Women are uncomfortable buying underwear from strange men, plain and simple! Hell, I don't even like purchasing outer garments from men either, for that matter. Get with the program, Saudi Arabia! Stop putting women in embarassing situations like this! Do something about it now. All these lame excuses you are coming up with for why you shouldn't hire salesWOMEN are idiotic. The country is ready for this to happen. It shouldn't even be an issue. This whole nonsensical situation seems to be much ado about absolutely nothing.