As a 21st century American woman, it’s pretty easy to take things for granted. I’ve always been able to do just about anything I wanted. I can vote, come and go as I please, get an education, drive, and live and work anywhere.
It’s pretty easy to forget it’s not like this all over the world. There are far too many places where women are second class citizens; where they can’t do any of the things I mentioned above, along with a whole of other things, too. So even though I find the following incredibly sad, it should hardly come as a shock to anyone:
In Iran, women aren’t allowed to ski unless they’re accomapanied by a male guardian.
I read about this recently here, in The Washington Post.
Obviously, this isn’t the biggest problem Iranian women have to face. But it’s symptomatic of a much larger issue: the continued repression and subjugation of women. Here are some of the facts: In Iran, women are not allowed to marry without their father’s consent, no matter how old they are. Divorce is the exclusive right of men, for whatever reason they please. Girls can be treated criminally as an adult as young as age 9 (for boys, it’s 15). And a man can legally kill his wife if he sees her in bed with another man. It goes on and on. (You can find out more at Change4Equality)
For me, skiing is freedom. The combination of athleticism and speed, along with being outdoors in the beauty of nature — it all comes together to make you feel joyful, as if you can do anything. Perhaps that, more than anything else, is what troubles Iranian policy-makers. After all, how can you keep a woman down if she’s conquered a double black couloir by herself?
Oh, the picture above? That’s Marjan Kalhor, the first Iranian woman to take part in the Winter Olympics.