Modesty Glasses

(Photo: Mr. T in DC)

Men in the ultra-Orthodox religious community in Jerusalem object to women walking on the street in short skirts or sleeveless blouses, even attacking those who venture out in such unacceptable outfits.  Very few women will dare to go out dressed that way in certain sections of this magnificent city.  News of the Weird reports a solution that shifts the cost of enforcing the policy to the men: Members of “modesty patrols” are now selling ultra-Orthodox men glasses that blur distant images, thus preventing them from seeing “immodestly dressed” women.  This is a neat application of the Coase Theorem, and it seems a fair one: With these glasses, the costs of enforcing the men’s religious beliefs will be borne by the men rather than by women who choose how they wish to dress.



Unless of course the woman walks right next to the man; it is not a perfect solution. It should be noted that the areas where the Orthodox are asking women to dress modestly are small areas with 100% Orthodox populations. They are really just asking for you to "When in Rome dress like a Roman".

Erik Jensen

They are not just asking women to dress modestly; they are enforcing their views with violence and intimidation. Also, it seems hypocritical to require people who come to the Orthodox neighborhood to obey a dress code as I'm guessing the Orthodox do not change out of their garb when they leave their neighborhood.

I think the best solution would be for the Orthodox men to wear blindfolds and earplugs. That way they won't see or hear anything that could possibly offend them. Perhaps they could also use nose plugs, lest the smell of bacon offend their delicate sensibilities.


Erik Jensen; it is truly amazing to me that in a world as inundated with information you know and understand so little of what being an orthodox Jew is. Jews would not be offended by the smell of bacon.

Jews don't have any specific laws against pigs, they just can't eat animals that don't chew their cud and must have split hooves. The pig is simply the epitome of non-kosher animals because it is deceptive... it has split hooves, but doesn't chew its cud. It is therefore regarded as a universal example of non-kosher animals. I am not an ultra-orthodox Jew, just simply orthodox, and while I vehemently disagree with my brethren and coreligionists on many aspects of life, I don't believe that their behavior warrants your level of animus and hatred. There are a great many more wrongs to be righted in the world.

Dr. Hamermesh, may I take this opportunity to thank you for all of your wonderful posts and I am looking forward to any future postings. Regarding this specific article, I appreciated your perspective and direction toward the Coase Theorem, but I think there is even greater research to be had, off the consequences of this change, if the glasses were to be widely accepted and distributed.

There was an written on , on September 6, titled "The myth of how the hijab protects women against sexual assault." I believe that the article has universal merit, in that it applies as much to ultra-religious communities of all denominations & persuasions that have a mandatory dress code for the women in their communities. By shifting the onus of modesty from "those that dress" to "those that see," what sort of impact would it have on the levels of harassment?



and, of course, xray vision glasses are available on the black market there as well

Ilir Deebran

Prof. Hamermesh will be interested in a new framework that uses the body clock to measure technical progress. A new consumer theory from Alex Gheg ties quantity, quality, variety and convenience in one equation. He then uses the body clock to measure the impact of technology.

Lady Like

Must be fear of a pretty weak will, to insinuate a glance has the power to make one 'succumb'. A malady that perhaps could be aided with a bit of self discipline which begins in the mind. Where is the call for self generated, basic respect in the face of God given beauty? God created beauty. We protect them, yet He doesn't veil the mountains. Should we? Maybe looking at them would 'make me' act preposterously.
I don't know where our world's BALANCE went. With issues. With one another. What happened to kindness and moderation...


This sounds like the exact opposite of what the old order Amish do to test the belief system of teenagers who are about to become a part of the adult community and its strict rules:

They send them off to see 'the world' and all its temptation. Apparently some of them fail the test and become addicted to drugs and alcohol. I heard of a news feature about a substance abuse counselor who specialized on working with Amish youth.

I suppose the ultra orthodox don't want to risk a true test to the belief system of men which could mean inviting women to parade through the neighborhood in 'immodest attire'.

Eric M. Jones.

MY sacred belief system commands me to slap you upside your head for acting that way.


The ultra-orthodox are an embarassment to worldwide Jewry.

What they belive is NOT what 95% of Jews worldwide believe...


Somehow I feel that wearing these glasses all the time will be terrible for your eyes.


The cause of the Modesty doctrine is that lustful thoughts are sinful. Since few people have such mind control that they never notice that an attractive member of the opposite sex is attractive, the solution is to make sure none are.

I don't see why women should change the way they dress because a fundamentalist is afraid of a few sinful thoughts.

Julien Couvreur

A more robust solution in this case is the application of property rights. You can have orthodox or kosher malls (however you call that) and you can have some with more permissive dress codes. The same applies to restaurants and stores.
Then you don't need violence and respect individual preferences in the system of private property.

For streets (which are public/monopoly ownership by government) the problem is harder. I'd suggest that rather than piling more workarounds on top of this problem, the solution is to undo this problem and move towards street ownership (like malls or strip malls). Merchants (and their streets) can compete on various feature, not just the product they sell.


The mind can easily be trained to not see what the eyes input. Physical restrictions are for those who lack the mental ability to restrain themselves. These are also those the same people that jump off bridges because everyone else is doing so.


Women should just be allowed to TASER these men. IF they think it's okay to beat us for dressing too provocatively, then I say it's equally okay for us to defend ourselves and give them a handed beating for being so oppressively ignorant.


and who will be to blame when the wearer of modesty glasses gets run over by a bus because he can't see distant images and ventured into the street?


Glasses that do not allow one to see the whole picture seem perfectly appropriate for persons that wish to go through life not seeing the whole picture. I'm sure it'd be relatively easy to produce headphones that filter out words deemed inappropriate too. That way if your system of beliefs aren't being practiced or accepted by everyone you can just don your gear and live in a fantasy world.,la,la,la,la,la,la...