Shah’s Opinion about Women: Politically Irrelevant, Socially Significant

Although Iranian women have many wonderful qualities, the majority have difficulty believing in themselves and their strengths.  There are many cultural reasons for what can be described as lack of confidence and/or low self-esteem. But I believe the most significant factor is internalization of “society belief system” by women.

Following is a part of Oriana Fallaci’s interview with Shah.  Was Shah’s opinion about women a reflection of the opinion of our society as a whole ?  You will be the judge.  

O.F stands for Oraina Fallaci and M.R.P stands for Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. The name of the book is Interview with History.  The author is Oriana Fallaci.

O.F :  How strange, Majesty.  If there’s one monarch who’s always been talked about in relation to women, it’s you.  And now I’m beginning to suspect that women have counted for nothing in your life.

M.R.P:  Here I’m really afraid you’ve made a correct observation.  Because the things that have counted in my life, the things that have left their mark on me, have been quite different.  Certainly not my marriages, certainly not women.  Women, you know …. Look, let’s put it this way.  I don’t underrate them; they’ve profited more than anyone else from my Whit Revolution.  I’ve fought strenuously so that they’d have equal rights and responsibilities.  I’ve even put them in the army, where they get military training for six months and are then sent to the villages to fight the battle against illiteracy. And let’s not forget I’m the son of the man who took away women’s veils in Iran.  But I wouldn’t be sincere if I stated I’d been influenced by a single one of them.  Nobody can influence me, nobody.  Still less a woman.  Women are important in a man’s life only if they’re beautiful and charming and keep their femininity and…. This business of feminism, for instance.  What do these feminists want? What do you want?  You say equality. Oh!  I don’t want to seem rude, but …you’re equal in the eyes of the law but not, excuse my saying so, in ability.

O.F :  No. Majesty?

M.R.P :  No.  You’ve never produced a Michleangelo or a Bach.  You’ve never even produced a great chef.  And if you talk to me about opportunity, all I can say is, are you joking?  Have you ever lacked the opportunity, to give history a great chef?  You’ve porduced nothing great, nothing!  Tell me, how many women capable of governing have you met in the course of your interviews?              

O.F :  At least two, Majesty.  Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi.

M.R.P :  Who knows?….All I can say is that women, when they govern, are much harsher than men.  Much crueler.  Much more bloodthirsty.  I ‘m citing facts, not opinions.  You’re heartless when you have power.  Think of Catherine de Medicis, Catherine of Russia, Elizabeth I of England.  Not to mention Lucrezia Borgia, with her poisons and intrigues.  You’re schemers, you’re evil.  All of you. 

I hope you found this portion of the interview as interesting as I did

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