If women have choices

What do you do when women attain not only equality but, in some areas, numerical superiority?

Well if those areas are things like doing most of the domestic work, or low pay, or getting hassled in the street, you do nothing. But when those areas are desirable things like university education?

You slam the door on them, so that they won’t have any numerical superiority any more. You make sure there won’t be more women than men graduating from universities by not letting so god damn many women in in the first place.

In Iran,

36 universities have announced that 77 BA and BSc courses in the coming academic year will be “single gender” and effectively exclusive to men.

It follows years in which Iranian women students have outperformed men, a trend at odds with the traditional male-dominated outlook of the country’s religious leaders. Women outnumbered men by three to two in passing this year’s university entrance exam.

Senior clerics in Iran’s theocratic regime have become concerned about the social side-effects of rising educational standards among women, including declining birth and marriage rates.

Yes, that is a worry. Always. If women have choices about what to do with their lives, many of them will not get married very young, many of them will not start having children very young, many of them will have one or two children instead of five or ten. Some will not get married at all, some will not have children at all. That’s how it is when people have choices – many of them will decide for themselves what kinds of lives they want to have. (Many, not all. Some will do the expected thing, or submit to pressure, or make mistakes that commit them to lives they never actually chose to have.)

Theocrats, naturally, think that’s an outrage. They think god wants people to have the kinds of lives that god thinks they should have, and they also think they know that, and they also think they know that what god wants should be binding on humans.

So they move to stunt and truncate the lives of women, and to take choices away from them, so that they will revert to marrying young and having children young and often, because of their lack of choices.

Under the new policy, women undergraduates will be excluded from a broad range of studies in some of the country’s leading institutions, including English literature, English translation, hotel management, archaeology, nuclear physics, computer science, electrical engineering, industrial engineering and business management.

The Oil Industry University, which has several campuses across the country, says it will no longer accept female students at all, citing a lack of employer demand. Isfahan University provided a similar rationale for excluding women from its mining engineering degree, claiming 98% of female graduates ended up jobless.

Shirin Ebadi has written to Ban Ki Moon and to Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights.

Ebadi, a human rights lawyer exiled in the UK, said the real agenda was to reduce the proportion of female students to below 50% – from around 65% at present – thereby weakening the Iranian feminist movement in its campaign against discriminatory Islamic laws.

“[It] is part of the recent policy of the Islamic Republic, which tries to return women to the private domain inside the home as it cannot tolerate their passionate presence in the public arena,” says the letter, which was also sent to Ahmad Shaheed, the UN’s special rapporteur for human rights in Iran. “The aim is that women will give up their opposition and demands for their own rights.”

However, the science and higher education minister, Kamran Daneshjoo, dismissed the controversy, saying that 90% of degrees remain open to both sexes and that single-gender courses were needed to create “balance”.

Because if women ever have more of a good thing than men do, that’s “imbalance.” This principle does not hold true in the other direction.


  1. Rrr says

    OK, this is not quite as toxic as the last ones, but is Jaq’Cuze actually even allowed on the internet? His ‘nym sounds terribly familiar. Or maybe it’s his brother, Dave-M’arc? But then, what would I know about roaming about posting from cafés. In blatant disregard of sentence and ‘Abuze of term. Have the RCMP been informed yet?

  2. eric says

    Jacques, spending advertising money on recruitment drives for men is a bit different from denying women access to whole academic programs.

    I disagree with some of the measures your linked article discusses at the end (changing how school is taught to help men, etc…) but I don’t really have a problem with colleges with low numbers of X’s targeting advertising at X’s.* Advertising more to one group doesn’t give them any sort of unfair competitive advantage (in admissions or coursework) over other groups. Or at least its not supposed to. If some professor feels pressure to give men easier grades because they know the school wants more men graduating, that’s a serious problem. But advertising on its own? Not a serious problem (IMO).

    *So long as they would do the same thing for every X and are not spending more money on men than they would any other poorly represented group.

  3. Rrr says

    Your nymicon, M. Jacques Cuze, appears to be eerily similar to the name of infamous internet stalker and profligious would-be thug David Marcuze aka plenty of other things, who was after a long struggle to arouse police interest finally actually sentenced to 18 iirc months of internet abstention after having harassed several bloggers more or less 24/7, online and in person. That term has not yet concluded, afik.

    EDIT: Thanks, OB. I thought it was too close. But now I’ll let off.

  4. Jacques Cuze says

    “It is a sock, though (I discovered).”


    The name comes from a science fiction story I read a zillion years ago.

  5. Jacques Cuze says

    ““It is a sock, though (I discovered).””

    I see I have been moderated? Who do you think I am a sock puppet of?

    And seriously, what is your evidence, I am curious, because, truly, I’m not a sock puppet.

  6. says

    You called yourself Jay the first time you commented. Maybe that qualifies as your name…Ok, I’ll take you out of mod. (The full name has a whiff of taunting. Trolls do that a lot, so that plus the changed name made me wary. That’s how this goes. I’m much more wary than I used to be.)

  7. Vic says

    Yeah, just outright ban access to universities… What the flying fuck.

    I suspect, this is not only because of their “traditional family image” the religious conservatives in Iran would like to keep. The better educated the population is, the harder it becomes to control.

    And although Iran has elections, we have seen how the population has rioted in the street then they suspected the last elections to be rigged (which they most likely were).

    By denying higher education to such a large group, they want to stabilize their regime (and the traditionalist familiy structure which is (and I know I’m generalising here) rooted in their culture and in their religion gives them an easy excuse. A good example how mixing religion and politics provides terrible outcomes for the population of a nation).

    Addendum: Please note I do NOT accuse ALL muslims to support this. I described a tendency which seems to be considered “the status quo” in Iran, even if surely protested by Iranian intellectuals, the youth and progressives of the country.

  8. Rrr says

    And an exceptionally suboptimal choice of handle. If I may say so. Apologies for possibly interrupting important messages, if any, or any be needed.

  9. Jacques Cuze says

    “You called yourself Jay the first time you commented.”

    Yes, that’s likely.

    “The full name has a whiff of taunting. ”

    It was a great science fiction story. IIRC, Essentially about a “troll” who brings down a totalitarian system by systematic (false?) accusations of some of the powers that be, and then the other powers that be go after that accused powers that be (but it was a long time ago, I may be completely wrong.) And he was known as Jacques Cuze, which as you note, can be very slightly re-arranged. But I loved that story and so yes, sometimes my heart goes out to the “trolls”.

    But by the way, I completely agree with eric up above on the difference between and “advertising” outreach program, and what is happening in Iran, and it may have been too early in the morning but I honestly thought the link was relevant.

  10. smrnda says


    “The Oil Industry University, which has several campuses across the country, says it will no longer accept female students at all, citing a lack of employer demand. Isfahan University provided a similar rationale for excluding women from its mining engineering degree, claiming 98% of female graduates ended up jobless.”

    Is the lack of employer demand because employers are discriminating against qualified women? If that’s the case, it seems a bit wrong to penalize women for other people’s sexism.

  11. Smhll says

    The people who think affirmative action is just so unfair weren’t around when many universities were refusing to admit any women or any African-Americans.

    But we have a new fairness smell test that fits into a more compact time period. For those who think that its wrong that women are now over represented in some professions (let’s say 55%of college degrees in field X), I would ask, where was the concern only a few short years ago when it was women that were only 45% of the field? Was it wrong then? Did you care enough to protest?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *