Iran, Revolution, Sexuality

Picture 11
via rosa_roshan
On the surface, the revolution of 79 and now the ‘Green Revolution’ are governance-based uprisings. Look a little deeper, and we see previously veiled women removing their veils for the first time, older women taking an active role in marches, and women gathering in coffee shops, bars, and public spaces to discuss politics where normally only men would gather. Below are some snippets and suggested reading from recent articles I’ve encountered dealing with Iranian sexuality:

On one side, is an all-male cabal of gun-totting, club-wielding men — the Army, the Revolutionary Guard and the volunteer militia — supported by the pantheon of the highest government offices in the land — the Supreme Leadership, the Presidency, and membership in the Guardian Council — all monopolized by men.

…On the other side, is a sea of lawfully demonstrating men and women marching side by side and shoulder to shoulder. Holding hands, green in color, hopeful in outlook, vibrant and non-violent, they fight bullets and batons with open hands and support Mir Hossein Moussavi, who is often accompanied by his wife, Zahra Rahnavard.

A synonym for the word “woman” in the Persian language is Pardeh Neshin: “She who sits behind the curtain / the veil / the screen.” The expression perpetuates, even linguistically, the cultural ideal of woman’s absence in public. Pardeh Neshin implies enclosure, invisibility, and controlled mobility, all associations that are inseparable from conventional definitions of femininity in Iran.

via Tehran Bureau

The regime’s failure to allow women into public life has made transexuality in Iran a unique window through which one can observe the hypocrisy of gender. In the documentary film Be Like Others by Tanaz Eshaghian, we learn the surprising social politics of transexuality in Iran in this interview:

What do you remember from the preliminary phone conversations with these people before you went to Iran?
Cleric Kariminiya, who had written his “PhD”—the Islamic version of a PhD that a cleric gets—on applying Islamic law and thinking to transsexual identity, really gave me a sense of another world. He was fantastic. He had also explored such topics as what happens to the inheritance of a male that becomes a female (Under Islam a woman gets half of what a man gets for inheritance). He let me know that because of a sex change, the person is now female—and gets half!

Trailer below:

Also see:

Sex in Iran” – Playboy and “Stolen Kisses: Iran’s Sexual Revolutions” at the Nation.

Religion and Nanotechnology and ‘Framing Nano’ report

The Swiss think tank ‘The Innovation Society’ has released a report titled “Framing Nano” (pdf) which explores governance and regulation/legislation in nanotechnology.

Some teasers:

  • France, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UK and some Scandinavian countries are the most active countries in Europe in addressing the issues related to nanoregulation. The report also describes the various voluntary measures currently in progress or already completed.
  • Nanoregulation must be regarded as a dynamic issue which must adapt to the evolution of the scientific knowledge, applications and public attitude. A continuous updating must be part of the governance of nanotechnology.
  • Public acceptance and public engagement are core aspects of the debate. While in the USA and some other countries, public participation is seen, in the first place, as an instrument to ensure public acceptance (or to avoid negative risk perception), European vision seems more focused on fostering the broader concept of “public engagement” in the development and governance of nanotechnologies as a way of democratic legitimisation.
  • As a general conclusion, most governments and regulatory authorities consider existing regulatory frameworks, such as REACH in Europe and TSCA in USA, appropriate in principle to deal with many of the nanomaterials currently in use. However, the many divergent positions regarding different stakeholder groups are also pointed out in the mapping study.

The bolded text speaks to a report (Religious beliefs and public attitudes toward nanotechnology in Europe and the United States) released in Dec of 08 regarding a survey of Nanotechnology’s “Moral Acceptability.” The study established a correlation between religiosity and moral acceptability of nanotechnology. The more religious respondants deemed nanotechnology more unacceptable. This is a feature of the American psyche that has affected how public institutions approach and frame Nano issues. To appear safe, new technologies must be more rigorously framed as morally ambivalent than in European (read: godless) nations. Observe the pretty graph:


So what do you make of this?