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No one is safe
What we choose is what we live with

Parissa Behnia
November 29, 2004

I read Tuff Wild Chick's (TWC) relationship essay the other night when I could not get to sleep. I first said, "OUCH!" I then said, "I'm depressed." I sensed from TWC's words that perhaps she is not so tough as to not feel genuine pain. I know she was expressing her feelings at the time and I just want to throw in my two cents.

I very much think that what TWC writes about is common to all women and all men. I do not think this is an exclusively Iranian phenomenon. It may be more accurate to say that this is a woman versus man issue with Iranian filters (or guilt) or overtones (or guilt).

TWC does say in the beginning that what she writes does not necessarily apply to all Iranian men. To be fair, I am sure it is easy to criticize Iranian women for a host of stereotypical reasons. I have heard many Iranian men say we are stuck up, spoiled, lazy, materialistic and so forth. The finger of blame can be pointed back to us as well. No one is safe. Nothing is sacred.

There are so many questions to ask with a million possible answers. Is it that we Iranians do not know how to treat each other with respect? Quite possibly. We do a very good job of tearing each other down due to jealousy, political tendencies, long memories (e.g., thirty year feuds because someone didn't send a thank you card to someone else), etc., when we should be building each other up.

Other ethnic groups, particularly in the United States, have done a better job of mobilizing as a viable community than we have. We all know the statistics about how we are the most educated minority in the U.S. but we have not done anything meaningful with the data.

Is it that we teach our sons / brothers to value our daughters / sisters as less? Alternatively, is it that we teach our daughters / sisters to value themselves less than we value our sons / brothers? I hear that both are anecdotally true. Some people do have the experience where the sons are favored over daughters. I only have an older sister so I do not have direct knowledge and I will not pass judgment.

The lessons that modern women are learning, though, are to know and acknowledge their inherent value and worth and to, subsequently, refuse to allow inequity in their personal or professional interactions with others be they men or women, Iranian or otherwise.

What collective experiences or memories have we handed down to each generation that makes TWC as angry as she is? Alternatively, it is possible that each generation has that same amount of anger but TWC is among the new breed of Iranian woman who feels comfortable speaking her mind without fear of retribution. I have heard many stories about how my female relatives suffered and I am confident others have heard similar tales as well.

Yes, sometimes a woman does experience sexual pressure. Yes, sometimes a woman succumbs in hopes to keep the man interested. Yes, sometimes a man will leave if a woman says no. She is defined by how she reacts or does not react to the pressure. She is defined by how she reacts or does not react to any situation for that matter.

The question to ask of ourselves is whom we choose to be in that particular moment. The trick is to act in accordance with the answer regardless of what may come, be it sex or no sex, or less tangible things like happiness or sadness.

What we choose is what we live with. How we live with what we choose is always in our power. It is not necessary to be influenced by the judgment, opinions or filters of others. We hurt ourselves the most when we rate ourselves based on the artificial standards of others. We have not given our self worth's Power of Attorney to another. We have not given our mind's Power of Attorney to another. We have not given our soul's Power of Attorney to another. The question remains why we keep acting as if we have.

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