The Iranian


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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


November 1, 2000

I know because he was my grandfather

Although Fereydoun Hovyeda's opinion piece titled "Curbing men" makes a good point regarding the need for men to curb sexual desire, he has distorted some facts in order to strengthen his point.

The International Herald Tribune article he cites about General Hassan Akhavi's "order" to ban pretty secretaries was not an attempt to deny work for attractive women, that is ludicrous. It was an attempt to encourage these so-called lusty men to hire a woman on her abilities and not solely on her looks.

The Ministry of Agriculture was actually ahead of its time in placing productivity, skill, and performance ahead of shear attractiveness and that is what the General had tried to implement.

As more women entered the workforce there was an increasingly important emphasis being placed on physical beauty and the result was a bunch of very attractive, yet incompetent secretaries. More educated women who may not have been as attractive were being denied work, and that was what the Department of Agriculture was trying to change.

As a reporter for the Associated Press, I went back and looked at the notes of this time and came to understand the situation for what was really taking place.

In addition, the assertion that the General was "probably a practicing Muslim...but could not impose the chador on female employees" is an irresponsible assumption. Having the respect of the religious community at the time does not imply that one is religious.

And if in fact he was a practicing Muslim, why is this made to have such a negative connotation? A practicing Muslim is not synonymous with misogyny and fundamentalism.

For the record, I know this General was not a provincial and chauvinistic man obsessed with stymieing women's liberation and struggle for equality. I know this because he was my grandfather.

Negar Akhavi


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