Want to experience the massive rock formations at Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England? Or how about the epic vistas at Gros Morne National Park right here in Newfoundland? Of course you do, because these places are absolutely breathtaking. And they’re just two of the 1,000-plus UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world that, until now, welcomed people from all walks of life, races and genders.
But the newest UNESCO site refuses to welcome a certain type of person. Namely, women.
Okitsugu, a shrine located on the teeny tiny island of Okinoshima in Japan’s East Sea, is the latest place to receive the prestigious UNESCO title. But thanks to ancient rules, only men are allowed there.
In the past — like, centuries and centuries ago — it was considered unsafe for women to travel by boat to the island.
“It is meant to protect women, the birth-giving gender,” a spokesman told AFP.
It’s fine, we weren’t that interested going anyway. We’ll just scroll through pictures on the internet instead.
Insert eye roll here.
Each year, a limited number of men are permitted to venture onto the island. Just 200 people — men– made the cut this year. For the gents who do make the journey to the sacred shrine, it’s mandatory to take a naked bath in the sea before entering for purification purposes.
“The island has sometimes been said to ban women, but in principle, anyone but the priests who pray there for 365 days a year is barred from entering,” the spokesman said. So if everyone but the priests are banned from the site, how does it make any sense that men still get to visit?
Each year, the UNESCO adds new sites to its roster during a meeting in Poland, and this time, around 33 were up for consideration. In addition to the Boys’ Club in Japan, it also added Taputapuatea in the French Polynesia, Valongo Wharf in Rio de Janeiro and the Temple Zone of Sambor Prei Kuk in Cambodia.
In other words, there are loads of other awesome heritage sites to take in. Ones that, if you’re a woman, you’re more than welcome to visit.