Whenever I hear someone start a sentence with “maa irooniaa”… I know that it’ll be a negative comment.
Sometimes, I hear things like “maa iroonia taarikheh khodemoono nemidoonim”. Or, “ma iroonia nabayad ba ham kar konim”. Apparently for us Iranians, “faghat enteghad az doshman mojaz ast”. These are obviously negative attributions that Iranians allegedly have.
Other times, I hear things like “maa iroonia be bachehamoon kheily khoob miresim”. Or, “ma iroonia 2500 sal tarikh darim!” This sort of comment is positive only on the surface, because it is usually uttered in place of some sort of comparison with non Iranians who are always perceived to be the losers of the contrast.
I read an article here entitled “be gozashteyeman alaghemandim ama ba tarikheman biganeh”. It was well researched and some what racist. I felt so bad about being Iranian that I had to take an Iranian bath, complete with keeseh and long. I never understood why some people are so good at belittling large groups of people without solid evidence. Just by giving their opinions. Here’s an example from that article:
ما ایرانیها دو خصیصۀ متنافر داریم: یکی اینکه وقتی به ما بگویند که بالای چشممان ابروست بیتامل میرنجیم و دیگر اینکه همواره این احساس را داریم که خدنگی چشممان را میخلد غافل از اینکه این خدنگ از ابروی خودمان است.
I’ve always believed that Iranians are not different than anyone else in the world. Even though our culture belongs to a specific geographic location, we are almost always the same as other people to whom we compare ourselves. The difference I see between people is based on socioeconomic class. Working class people are pretty much the same no matter which country they are from. White collar society is the same every where. Our differences, in my view, aren’t based on nationality.
But I think I’m ready to make my judgment about Iranians and provide some solutions. I’ve noticed 2 patterns of behavior that seems to be prevalent among Iranians and they get on my nerves. I’m not saying that other nationalities are immune to these same issues but frankly, who gives about other people? This is IRANIAN.com, right? Also, what I am not denying that what I’m attributing to Iranians can also belong to others.
Iranians are very Eurocentric. And I’m not referring to people around me. I’m talking about Iranians in general. We consider Europeans to be very “chic” people.
If you look at our last king and his family, you will probably notice that they didn’t look, dress, live or eat like an average Iranian family. Instead of viewing their life style as foreign, we, the peons, consider(ed) them exceptionally sheek! I’ve seen pictures of Farah in gypsy style clothing when she travelled in Iran. But it was mostly for the cameras and it was sheek precisely because she didn’t dress “dehaati” on a daily basis. You know how cool white people look when they go to India or defend Tibet?
There is an argument to be made here about the propriety of a royal family. And I agree. If we are going to have a King, it might as well be a clean shaven, designer wearing, and educated dude. But our definition of what is becoming of a Royal family, I believe, is very European. Even though we admire little bearded men in hats and kaftans at Persepolis, we prefer our imperial men in suits. We want them to look European.
We cringe at Ahmadinejad’s face knowing full well that many countrymen have some of his features (although not as disturbing as his package). After all, many Middle Eastern men have always sported beards (not as neatly combed as Sattar’s). Many Iranians are just as short and enjoy eating on the ground next to a Sofreh with their backs on Poshtees.
Yes I know that the German Chancellor doesn’t dress in native clothes but have you seen how cool Prince Charles looks in a kilt? Or Dalai Lama wrapped in cloth? How come our presidents never wear that type of clothes? We are too damn sheek?
But we really should try to change that about ourselves. We should like our culture and our religions. And understand that secularism, education and “democracy” are universal needs and that we don’t have to be European to be cool.
The second thing about Iranians is that we have an unrealistic view of ourselves. I think this is because we are caught up in tarof, something we’re good at. After all, we’ve always had to “kenar biaym” with our invaders. But tarof, which should have been a survival tool, has gone to our head. We’ve lost touch with reality. Here are some unrealistic old labels with their newly suggested replacements.
Old label: Iranians can’t accept anyone saying Iranians have eyebrows above their eyes
New label: Iranians are critical and logical.
Being analytical or critical doesn’t mean we cannot take constructive criticism. It means we are logical. We enjoy debating. It’s been proven to us that if we aren’t aware of all details, sneaky people take advantage of our natural resources.
Let’s be fair. Biased or unfounded criticism is not tolerated by anyone. This is not an ethnic based issue. Think of Americans for a minute. How do they react to criticism about their way of life? Internationally speaking, Americans use weapons to make their point. No one dares to disagree with them. How do religious people react to criticism of their beliefs? How do political rivals react to criticism of their policies? In most cases, no one likes criticism. It’s even worse if we, as Iranians, are criticized by outsiders who don’t have knowledge of many crucial things that affect our behavior and decisions.
Old label: Iranians can’t work together.
New label: Iranians work well together.
In a group, we take a long time to make decisions. So what? I choose to see this as a sign of collective intelligence and a symptom of inclusivity. We want everyone to have a chance to give an opinion, and we consider every opinion. And it’s a fact; there are a lot of university educated people among us. So everyone has something to say. Some times decisions take longer to come to fruition. How is that only Iranian?
Old label: Iranians aren’t “united” like the Jewish community seems to be.
New label: Iranians are very “united”.
Excuse me but if anyone in the world sticks together, it’s Iranians. Look at all the invasions that have gone through Iran. Phoenicians became Arabs. Egyptians became Arabs. The gypsies and Bedouins became Arab. Not us!
Another evidence of our solidarity is the fact that no matter where we are, we always connect with each other. Iranian businesses are almost always huddled in the same areas. Iranian families almost always have relationships with Iranian businesses (even though we complain about their lack of service). Iranian students always know who the hamvatan professors are.
Take a look at your place in your community. Change how you see yourself in that community. Evaluate the number of times you’ve attended Iranian events. The Iranian sites you explore. The Iranian dishes you eat…
Our collective disintegration due to revolution, immigration and war has taken its toll. But that is not to say we don’t support each other. At the end of the day, we do.
Old label: Iranian women are gold diggers & they wear too much make up.
New label: Iranian women care about their financial future and take care of themselves.
Tricky one! Yes, most Iranian women don’t want to marry gas station attendants, poor students or boys in debt. And that makes them gold diggers? Do Iranian men routinely go for sick girls with 7 children and no job? Of course not.
Iranian women like to lead a relatively easy life. Just like other women. And boys that aren’t in a financially stable situation don’t fit in. That’s life. Some women want rich boys. But I got news for ya! That’s universal.
And we like make up. By God we do! Yes, Sephora is my temple. But come on, how many Iranian ladies paint up like Homeira? Very few.
Old label: Mardeh Iraani moft nemiarzeh!
New label: Mardeh Iraani moft nemiarzeh! Just kidding
New label: Iranian men are … men. Very funny men.
There are no statistics to prove that Iranian men beat up their wives more than say, American men. Also, they do not force their wives to cover up. For the most part, they work hard and play hard. And there’s never a shortage of lokhti pokhti women at mehmoonis. So, what’s wrong with that? They are as hairy as some other nationalities. But hey, so are Iranian women!
Old label: irooni baazi
New label: irooni baazi
Why is it that bizarre behavior is always attributed to irooni baazi? As far as I’m concerned irooni baazi is a good thing. It’s about things Iranians do. Care about their kids (no more or less than anyone else), go to school, eat, and sleep. Bad behavior is just bad behavior. Nothing Iranian about that.
I can’t think of other labels, but I’m sure there are more out there.