I will never forget joking with my western friends in Afghanistan about showing skin when I lived there. And I'm not talking about anything Americans consider to be risque. I'm talking about showing my wrists :-) I never showed my arms in public--they were always covered in long-sleeve shirts. I was a guest in Afghanistan and my fashion choices came from my respect for the Afghan culture. To be honest, I never felt like my freedom or empowerment was compromised because of my conservative wardrobe. My western female friends sported the same respectful attire.
One day my western male friend saw me lift my sleeve to check my watch. In a joking tone he said, "No Liz, I can't take it. Put it away. Not until we're married." Maybe it's just funnier to me since I was there, but he always gave me a rise with that one. At the same time, I'm sure there may have been some guys in Afghanistan who were excited by the sight of a wrist. Actually, I'm working on a film right now called Scarlet Poppy, about an American man who falls in love with an Afghan woman because he sees her toenails sticking out from her burqa. The idea of being attracted to something so subtle may not be so far-fetched.
While living in Afghanistan, I noticed that some guys get weird when most of the women are covered up on the streets. That's a whole other blog entry, but I'll put it this way... I was single the whole time I was in Afghanistan, and with good reason.