On the long list of things that people in the Middle East just can't seem to sort out, wedged somewhere between nuclear war and how to stop sand getting everywhere, is the issue of women. From the recent reports of sexual harassment becoming a regular occurrence on Egyptian streets, to eight-year-old schoolgirls getting attacked in public for dressing “immodestly”, it's pretty clear that it's not a massively great place for women to live. Thankfully that's all set to change, thanks to pairs of blurry glasses that are taking Israel's Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community by storm.
The basic premise is that, if you can’t see women in front of you, you'll not entertain the idea of having sex with them. I decided to try the method out for myself, to see if this was a useful long-term solution to a real problem, or if it was just sticking a plaster over a moral shotgun wound.
First things first: to get the experiment right, I had to ensure that I could match the levels of sexual frustration experienced by an extremely religious person. I didn't have time to convert, so I went for the quick fix and necked a Viagra pill I found on the backseat of the N11 to Hammersmith, while wearing a pair of jeans that were two sizes too small for me.
I washed the Viagra down with some shitty energy drink and hurried to the nearest opticians. I asked the guy behind the counter if he knew of any glasses that could inhibit my sexual desires. Having listened carefully to my predicament, he sold me the strongest reading glasses he had and made me promise never to wear them because they could seriously damage my eyesight. I took this as a good sign.
It was indeed money well spent. Look at the view through these things. I could only see about a foot in front of my face. I realised that if this experiment was successful, we may have been at the dawn of a new era of religious and sexual hegemony. I imagined crate-loads of these things being sent to the Catholic Church and out on to the streets of Egypt, single-handedly tackling the huge problem the libido presents to Middle Eastern culture. The next thing I had to do was find members of the opposite sex to interact with, so that I could actually test my new Jewish anti-sex specs. Unfortunately, the effect the glasses were having on my vision was making this a problem. I approached this fine beauty to ask for directions to the nearest library.
Imagine my disappointment to find the woman was actually a Portuguese geography teacher named Alfredo. I decided to try the park, still locked in a world of shapeless blurs and painful erections (much like being at university). However, I was still struggling to find people to talk to. I'm not sure if it was the sight of my offensive pants, my cross-legged perambulation or the lost and terrified stare in my eyes as I flailed my arms trying not to bump into trees, but something was definitely scaring them off.
Eventually, photographer Kyle ushered me over to a group of girls, who, after some tense negotiations, were willing to talk to me. They were nothing to me but blonde blurs with high-pitched voices. I was starting to feel like a real religious woman-hater.
It was pretty easy to tell the glasses weren’t working. Despite the fact that these girls were nothing to me but abstract shapes, my human desire to procreate was not being dispelled. I don't know if it was the Viagra talking, but I found myself coming out with the same, dull bullshit all men say when they first meet women; neither side was really listening, everyone was waiting for their own turns to speak and all our conversations seemed to quickly draw back to the safety of weather.
I thanked my newfound friends for their understanding as I waddled off, hoping to find some respite for my inflamed penis. Drinking didn’t help, in fact it only made me waddle more, my vision worse and increased my desire to find quick relief from my condition. I was depressed, drunk and sexually frustrated.
With the glasses having completely failed me, I realised that we are essentially all fucked. Fundamentalist religion will keep on trying to mask the problems the 21st century causes it with makeshift solutions, and wrapping its women in invisibility cloaks. There might be something to admire about the obstinacy of zealots – the refusal to sway, bend or wilt before a changing world – but after spending a day as one all I could think about was wanking. And that's not good for anyone's soul.
Follow Oz on Twitter: @OzKaterji
Other social experiments: