Imagine being an athlete at the top of your field and not being recognized by the authorities for your accomplishments simply because you are a woman. This is the problem faced by Elham Asghari, a 32-year-old swimmer in Iran, who isn’t having her records recorded by the country’s sports ministry. In fact, just last month, Iran refused to acknowledge Asghari’s recent 20 kilometer swim in the Caspian Sea. Why? Because when she emerged from the water after the swim on a women-only beach, her figure was still “visible” underneath her six kilos-worth of body-covering swimsuit paraphernalia. Keep reading »
As I am getting ready to leave for the doctor’s office, Auntie Shadi gives me a warning: “Now don’t expect to be seen exactly on time. This is not America.”
“Oh. Ok,” I say, instead of admitting that we don’t necessarily get seen exactly on time for our doctor’s appointment either. During this one-month stay in Iran I have learned to choose my battles with misconceptions. I only correct the important ones, like the one where they assume that anyone who lives in America has lots of money without working.
Since I had left a lucrative career as an oral surgeon to become a writer, money was tight and most of my activities were on hold. When dad invited me to Iran on an all-expense-paid trip, I gladly accepted. As most everything is cheaper in Iran, I decided to get some of my annual medical exams out of the way, too. My father takes a particular pleasure in going to the doctor. It’s his fear of hospitals that makes him so diligent in preventative care to the point that when he runs out of things to do, he just pops in for some blood work. So, hearing about my interest in seeing a doctor (any doctor, really) was good news. He secretly wanted to show off the excellence in Iran’s medical care.
A routine check up at the OB/GYN could not be that complicated, I reasoned. Besides, nowhere in the United States does a specialist visit cost $16. Keep reading »
Update, 5:15p.m.: Chicago Public Schools have rescinded the order to yank Persepolis from the shelves. This is great news! [Chicago Tribune]
Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, is one of the best series of graphic novels that I have ever read. I recommend it to everyone. And I read a lot of graphic novels. The memoirs recount Satrapi’s childhood in Iran following the Islamic Revolution and the increasing strictures on the life of an artsy young woman who is increasingly at odds with the fundamentalist Muslim religious police.
It’s touching, inspiring, and educational — and I’m far from the first person to point out that graphic novels are a great way to get young adults who don’t love to read to engage with literature.
So why, then, have the books been pulled out of Chicago Public Schools? Keep reading »
This coming academic year, 36 universities in Iran have announced that 77 Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Sciences courses will now be “single gender” and therefore only available to men. With women outnumbering men by three to two in passing this year’s university entrance exam, The Daily Beast theorizes Iranian leaders are becoming “concerned about the social side-effects of rising educational standards among women” — as in, women are becoming too educated at the (scare quotes!) “expense” of men.
This is scary stuff. Keep reading »