So one of the themes of my Persia Blues graphic novel is the struggles of the protagonist, a female grad student in Iran, against the institutionalized sexism and social oppression of the country’s Islamic regime. I’m currently writing a scene that takes place at Shiraz University, where she is studying architecture. And at this moment, this particular story is making the rounds on the Internet:
Now, despite the shocking headline, the truth of the matter is a bit less draconian. The relevant part of the news is this:
“36 universities have announced that 77 BA and BSc courses in the coming academic year will be “single gender” and effectively exclusive to men.”
So it’s not an official governmental decree, nor is it all universities. Still, no matter how you spin it, it’s a pretty shitty move, especially when you take into accounts that the 77 fields of study include all the major ones, like chemistry, computer science, nuclear physics, engineering, business management, education, and more.
And for those folks more aware of the nuances of Iranian culture and politics, it’s an especially troubling move given that compared to all its Islamic neighbors in the region, Iran is probably the most liberal when it comes to the rights of women. Now, I know that’s not saying much, but it’s a big deal when you realize in some of those other countries women can’t work without their husband’s permission, or hold public office, etc. Meanwhile, in Iran, women are politicians and judges and professors and business owners, and close to 70% of all university graduates in the various science fields are women. Plus, Iranian women have always been good at subverting authority.
But you know, there’s only so much the theocrats in charge will tolerate.
So art imitates life, and life imitates art. And so it goes…