Nazli Farrokhi

Thank You, Ms. Opponent!

Translated by Roja Bandari

Tuesday 20 February 2007

Exhausted, I was returning from the university when I saw a few women sitting on the floor of the subway, just as I was getting on. I decided to go and sit among them and to hand out the petition forms. At first, everyone seemed uninterested. Some would even try to read enough of the sentences while I was holding the papers, without taking them from my hand. I do not know which sentence had captured their attention that eventually they would began to accept my handouts. Adjusting themselves on the ground, they would throw me a quick glance, then firmly grab the paper and start reading it.

A young woman gave me back the paper first, and then a few other women, all without signing it. I asked the young woman, “You won’t sign?” She shook her head no. “Why? You don’t think the laws are discriminatory?” I asked.

“No! Look at our society now,” she replied, “Women are ruling over men. The second men talk, women shut them up!” I asked surprised, “Can you give me a few examples?” “Look at the statistics of unfaithful women,” she said.

Before I had a chance to open my mouth, another woman who was sitting next to me said, “And men don’t cheat?” The young woman answered, “Men are different! Men should be able to marry several women but women should not!”

The woman sitting next to me said with frustration, “If you get married, I hope you never experience this misfortune and never have to know what a “havoo” (or the second wife).

The young woman replied proudly that she was married. I looked around and saw that everyone seemed to be listening attentively. I stayed contentedly silent so they could carry on the conversation.

Another young girl asked, “If your own husband marries another woman will you still say it’s different?” The young woman declared self-righteously that her husband is not like that. “Then you’re just prescribing this medicine to others? Maybe you muzzle your husband the second he talks, and that’s why you won’t sign the paper!” said the young girl.

The first young woman replied with a fake smile, “No. I know that right now 90% of single women are not virgins and 85% of married women are unfaithful.” Another girl asked very cautiously, “Excuse me madam, which center has given out these statistics?” “I saw it myself!” the woman replied.

The girl next to me whispered a mocking remark in my ear and chuckled. I could not help laughing. The woman sitting next to me said in contempt, “I have been married for ages and I also know many girls, and from what I’ve seen, most women are decent.”

Two girls gave me signed sheets and a few women who had not signed asked for the paper so they could sign it too. Yet the young woman did not appear to want to end the argument. She continued, “I study physical education in the University... and all of the girls in our University are corrupt! They all prance half-naked around the women’s pool. A woman, who is strolling like that near the pool definitely, definitely, cheats on her husband.”

Even more infuriated now, the woman next to me replied, “How about yourself, my dear? Were you a virgin when you got married?” but the young woman ignored her. She seemed determined to prove her own sociological theories. The girl next to me was twisting and turning with anger, constantly whispering in my ear that she was tempted to slap the young woman. Worried that a fight would break out, I tried to calm her down, “Forget about her, she knows she’s making things up. Try to cool down.” While I was calming the girl next to me, the other women continued to mock and curse the young woman. I had reached my stop and I collected all the sheets. There were lots of signatures. When I got off the train I could still hear them arguing.
The Farsi Version of the Article


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