Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tough women

“Khanum [Ma’am], Iranian men do whatever their wives want.” (There is probably a better translation for this that includes the word “whipped”)

“Exactly,” my husband agrees.

In my travels around Iran, many of the men I have met from all sorts of socio-economic backgrounds have expressed a kind of admiration for the tough Iranian woman. It’s kind of a new twist on machismo: “My woman is the boss. She is tough. I do everything she says.” I am not sure where it comes from but a friend of mine whose mother came to Iran from Russia tells me that her mother always said, “Marry an Iranian man. Don’t even dream of marrying a Russian. Iranian men love their wives. Russians go crazy with jealousy.”

(Iranian women are fond of denigrating their men as in: “Never marry an Iranian man.” I am not sure how deep that feeling goes. Any thoughts?)

The Iranian women I know and meet are indeed tough. I stand in awe of these outgoing, outspoken women. I know very little about the case of the 33 feminist activists who were arrested, but I, like others, am awestruck by their courage and will.

It’s ironic to me that a revolution that was inspired in part by the ideas of Karl Popper, who believed in a self-critical society, would be so unwilling to tolerate peaceful protest and the criticism of citizens who only want Iran to become a better place.


Anonymous said...

Let's be honest, Iranian men say that they love their women, but the love is preconditioned, they actualy mean "if you do whatever we say, we love you."

I believe Iranian men in general aren't feeling secure enough to let women move up in life. It all come back to the current economy in Iran and lack of jobs. When there is not enough jobs for men, obiously women are pushed out; to push women out of job market, men, even the husbands, either knowingly or not put women down by referring to stupid excuses like: women are physically weak, they can't do many jobs; women are to emotional to hold an important job; women are always pregnant; and so many other myths.....

I feel bad for Iranian women who have to take all of these crap from men there. But, when the country is run by a bunch of uneducated men whose minds are filled with deception and pretention, no one can expect better. I do encourage women to press on for their cause. Don't let anyone even think that you are any less than men in every way. How?

Speak up. Speak up to anyone and anything that happens around you that feel or smells like someone is looking down on you.

ET said...

I'm wondering, anon, are you Iranian or an anthropologist?

You make a lot of of good points, but I cannot concede them all. I think you are wrong when you paint the women as powerless partners who need only please. That is decidedly not what I observe. It's a lot more complicated than that.

Yesterday I listened to an old Edward Said lecture. He made the point that democracy is created by just these kinds of discussions, protests, disputes, challenges...

It won't happen overnight.

BTW, good round-up at Global Voices