Iran through women's eyes: Shirin Ebadi and Azar Nafisi
May 28, 2006 3:56 PM   Subscribe

It is important to take the current political situation [NYT] in Iran in context. Shirin Ebadi and Azar Nafisi are two women who have written memoirs (Iran Awakening and Reading Lolita in Tehran, respectively) dealing with being a woman in the world's only theocracy. (bugmenot) Individual Iranians both commend and disagree with their portrayal of Iran to Western audiences.
posted by grapefruitmoon (12 comments total)
Scary how close some regimes nearer to home fit the description of a theocracy:
In the most common usage of the term theocracy, some civil rulers are leaders of the dominant religion (e.g., the Byzantine Emperor as head of the Church); governmental policies are either identical with, or strongly influenced by, the principles of a religion, and typically, the government claims to rule on behalf of God or a higher power, as specified by the local religion.
/ inevitable
posted by dash_slot- at 4:12 PM on May 28, 2006

Shirin Ebadi, who I saw last week, is a very level-headed and effective speaker. Her history is amazing, which is why she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.

In some discussions following the speech, it was suggested that her calm demeanor might have kept her from getting killed at various times in her career. My Iranian in-laws are very voluble and argumentitive and loud (not that I don't like them, but their style might have gotten them in more trouble...).
posted by kozad at 4:35 PM on May 28, 2006

Isn't Israel also a theocracy?
posted by Embryo at 5:13 PM on May 28, 2006

Isn't Israel also a theocracy?

posted by QuietDesperation at 5:26 PM on May 28, 2006

from Kevin Phillips in American Theocracy . . .

* Is an economic system geared to the needs, not of the people, but of the wealthy elite.
* It is a republican form of government.
* It features extreme forms of nationalism.
* While Nazism is a form of fascism, fascism is not Nazism.
* Fascism creates "enemies of the fatherland" in order to gain public support. These "enemies" usually include liberals, socialists, trade unionists, and conspicuous minority groups.
* Fascism is not conservative, although it often claims to be traditional.
* Fascism will replace a free press with propaganda.

Are we there yet?

"There is a war between the ones who say there is a war and the ones who say there isn't." ~Leonard Cohen
posted by Unregistered User at 5:42 PM on May 28, 2006

Unregistered: no.

We (Americans) seem to be doing many things which could lead to Fascism or could be seen as harbingers of Fascism, but we aren't there yet. Right now the media, while cowed is still not fully propagandistic, and the advent of the net as a decentralized form of media may prevent that from happening. Similarly we've had a socio/economic system that benefits an elite for around 230 years now (actually the system was around for a lot longer than that, but the US wasn't around more than 230 years so...) The extreme jingoism which characterizes Fascism is absent in America, and the jingoist movement seems to have stopped growing (though it hasn't shrunk). Etc, etc, etc.

I'm a critic of this administration, and I can't say I much care for the Democrats either, but it isn't Fascism. Not that your question is invalid, or that its bad to ask the question, but no, not yet and some indications are that America as a whole is pulling away from the movement which could grow into Fascism.
posted by sotonohito at 6:15 PM on May 28, 2006

I prefer Marjane Satrapi's take on being female in Iran--far more interesting than Nafisi.
posted by girandole at 9:06 PM on May 28, 2006

Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni is also quite good; it's about a persian girls take on going back to live and work in Iran after being raised in the US.
posted by chunking express at 5:34 AM on May 29, 2006

far more interesting than Nafisi.

"Your favorite Iranian feminist sucks."

Seriously, why the need to put down Nafisi, who's a wonderful writer? Why not just say Marjane Satrapi is also very much worth reading? I guess it's the MeFi ethos—gotta snark about somebody.
posted by languagehat at 6:03 AM on May 29, 2006

great post, and thanks to girandole for the additional links.
posted by carmen at 10:01 AM on May 29, 2006

My apologies, languagehat. I didn’t mean to say Nafisi sucks. I find Satrapi’s work more interesting than hers—and I’ve nothing to say against Ebadi, whose memoir I haven’t read, and whom I admire, insofar as I’m familiar with her public statements.

But, for instance, I find Nafisi’s approach to literary interpretation problematic. In Reading Lolita in Tehran she suggests that her own readings of the novels are not political, which seems to me disingenous. One can easily see why she wants to distance herself from the narrow and ill-informed responses of the marxist and islamist students she encounters who condemn, say, Daisy Miller, generally without having read it. But her own politics seem to be liberal (in the old-fashioned sense of enlightenment liberal) and pro-capitalist, which I think makes them more comfortable for most western readers, but doesn’t make her perspective apolitical. I’d agree her prose is very fine.
posted by girandole at 3:43 PM on May 29, 2006

Ah well, that's the difference, then. You go to writers for politics; I go for prose.
posted by languagehat at 5:14 AM on May 30, 2006

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