If we consider that we are approaching the new Year 2022 and there are still places where people belonging to a certain gender cannot access, it might seem absurd, but unfortunately it is the truth.
Is this due to sexsist and/or religious reasons? Perhaps. But often the real cause is retrieved in ancient traditions, linked to preconceptions and prejudices, which have settled in the cultural background of a group or a population and keep on remaining linked to those places.
So, let’s find out which are these inaccessible places and where this entry ban comes from.
“ACCESS FORBIDDEN TO THE OPPOSITE SEX”: places inaccessible to women or men
# Athos Mountain: no women for monks, only female CATS
In Greece, there is an ancient mountain where there are 20 monasteries of Agion Oros, The Holy Mountain. Here live monks who represent the guardians of Orthodoxy and prohibit the access into this splendid perched cluster to women.
The reason can be found in the popular stories about this mountain: it is said that this area was crossed by our Blessed Lady, who was so impressed by the beauty of this place that she built a sanctuary. The monastery is therefore dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the monks have placed the access ban for women in order to avoid falling into temptation.
This rule has been in force since 1046 and also prohibits the entry of female animals, except for female cats for which an exception is made.
# Mangrove’s forest: CLOTHES (and men) are not allowed
An opposite situation to the one in Greece, is the Mangrove’s forest in Indonesia, which is a place for women only. The forest is a meeting place where generations of women have always met to share stories and collect clams. However, these women need to follow one rule: they absolutely must be undressed.
The Tradition is that their clothes are taken off once they reach the river to collect clams. This is perhaps the reason why access is forbidden to men, who risk fines up to 1 million Indonesian rupees, the equivalent of about EUR 60.
# The beach of TRIESTE: on one side only women and children, and on the other one only men
Also Italy has its discrimination by gender. It is called “El pedocin” or “Spaggia della Lanterna” and it is, most probably, the last beach resort in Europe applying this division.
In this beach there is a wall that separates the part for women and children, up to 12 years, and the part only for men. The wall was built in 1903 in order to grant the privacy, safeguarding the fairer sex from prying eyes and has remained up to now. The women of Trieste do not seem to be annoyed by the separation, on the contrary, it allows them to enjoy the sea more freely and drive away shyness.
As a matter of fact, the wall ends in the water, a few meters from the beach, so the peeping Toms can simply swim a little bit further to be able to peek.
# STADIUMS in Iran: no club matches for women, they get access only for the national team
Until 2019, Iranian women could not access a stadium, even if accompanied by their husband or family.
Now things have slightly changed, thanks to a greater openness of the moderate government of President Hassan Rohani, but for them it remains a ban: no club matches. They cannot be in contact with men who are not relatives and for this reason they are not allowed to enter. The only exception is for the matches played by the national team.
# Voting Stations in Vatican City: only for CARDINALS (men)
If women in Vatican City are not allowed to vote, it cannot be considered a discrimination. The reason is that the only ones entitled to do it, are the Cardinals, who by law can only be males under eighty years old, being asked to vote and elect the Pope during the Conclave.
In reality, according to what the newspaper “Il Messaggero” revealed, the topic of voting for women “it has been a question mark for decades and it has been the crucial point of protests by female religious, theologians, Catholic academics” even several petitions have been organized.
# Okinoshima: purification rites and SKINNY-DIPPING
In Japan, a country that has kept alive some traditions that appear sexist to the West, there are many places forbidden to women, especially during their because they are considered impure.
However, there is a place where only women can get access. It is the Okinoshima island , off the town of Munakata. Here, the venerated deity is a woman, a Goddess of the Sea named Tagorihime.
This explains why there are only women on the island. However, access to men is not completely forbidden. They can enter and visit the island only in small groups and after performing rituals of purification and skinny-dipping.
(Original article by Selene Mangiarotti)