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Why don't women learn Karate?
Conversations with my son

By By Yasaman J.
March 16, 2000
The Iranian

My seven-year-old son, Roshan, came out of the shower wrapped in a towel. As he was putting his clothes on, I started hanging his clean clothes on little hangers and putting them in his closet.

He looked at the towel and said: "Do women in Iran wear a towel on their head even when they go to bed at night?" He has been more curious about Iran since the recent soccer games although he could not understand why we kept screaming and calling grown men "Bacheh-haa" as in "Bachehaa hamleh konid".

"First of all, they do not wear a towel, they wear a scarf. And no, they don't have to wear it in the house, only when they go out" I said, putting his toys in the basket.

"Did you leave because you had to wear the scarf?" He asked.

"That was one of the reasons. I could not choose what I wanted to wear, read, say or do." I said and thought to myself, How can you explain the heartbreaking decision of leaving your country to a skinny, half-dressed little guy?

This was where our conversations usually stopped. But this time he asked: "Who makes them wear it?"

"The government."

" Why don't women say they don't want to wear it?"

"Some of them do. But they force them to wear it anyway."

He thought for a minute. Then said, "Why don't women learn Karate and fight the government?"

Wow! Armed resistance! I said, " But the government has guns and soldiers. You can't just kick them."

"Oh!" he said and smiled. I turned around to stack his books on the desk.

"Are there women in the Iranian government?"

"Yes there are some women," I answered, waiting to see where he was going with this.

"Then why do they make other women wear scarves?" He said.

I could not help smiling. Feminist theoreticians in our neighboring city, Berkeley, move over! Here is this little kid getting to the heart of the matter in five minutes.

"Because they are ignorant. Just as some men are, and not only in Iran. You will find ignorant people everywhere in the world... Don't forget to dry your hair before coming out to dinner." I said and closed the door after me, thinking what our next conversation will be about, reproductive rights?!

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