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Iranian women hold gathering in Tehran to protest portrayal of women on national television


By Syma Sayyah, Tehran


The Women Cultural Center (WCC) in Tehran along with several other women organizations and groups helped arrange a gathering for those who wished to express their disgust or dismay towards policies for the projection of women's role on Iran's National Television Programs.  This meeting was held on Wednesday 28th April, 5-7 pm at Tehran Press House, and despite all odds started almost on time.  One thing that caught my attention was the significant number of men, many of them young, who were present there. They had come to express their solidarity on this issue, since the degrading representation of women on national TV is definitely an insult to men as well as women.



Please note the some of the hand-written posters, along with pictures from TV series, which were displayed in the room.

"Some TV Time must be allocated to Civil Society & NGOs involved in Women Issues"


"Switch off your Television, and Show your Disapproval of NIRT Policies"


"Women denounce women's roles on TV series"




The WCC Speaker at the beginning of the meeting addressed the audience, which consisted of truly a cross section of women (if not of Iran yet definitely of Tehran), and thanked the Reporters Society for allowing this meeting to be held at their center. She then said that we were there to express our objection and opposition to the unrealistic and non artistic roles that are shown in our TV series.  Yet this is not something new on Television, no where can we see the real, active and positive roles that women have been playing, in all aspect of daily lives, in the past 25 years, in any of the TV programs. Television women characters have nothing in common with the real women in our society, in social, artistic, emotional, intellectual or even family aspects of life of the nation.  This trend is a movement that reached a point and we have a duty to bring it out into the open.



Next several women expressed their opinion, and this has been reported -more or less- by several other web sites (their references are given at the end).  One of the speakers said that some may wonder why we have gathered here, but their surprise is not Why Now but rather Why Not Earlier? Indeed!



All I can say is that all types were well represented. We had ordinary women, traditional women, modern women,  educated, less educated, young and not very young, all saying the very same thing. All objected to the unrealistic portrayal of themselves and their sisters, mothers, friends, cousins, neighbors, colleagues, dreams, hopes,  thoughts and aspirations on Iranian television.  All the speakers were aware that most people watch TV not only as their main source of information but also for entertainment. This powerful tool that indirectly teaches a particular kind of 'moral education' can have devastating effect on minds of the most vulnerable members of the society, mainly children and the very young.  Everyone in one way or another expressed their kind of horror of the fact that policy makers use this tool to suppress and hold back a whole nation, via this stupid and silly portrayal of women, who are generally represented as weak, silly, unable to think for themselves, useless without a man, and could possibly not have inspiration higher than having a man before marriage and then a child afterwards.  Their only dream and hope is pleasing the man of their lives. If they cannot bear a child then they must be at fault, and must prove their love by not only agreeing but participating in finding their husband another wife! These women even if they hold a newspaper they do the cross-words only. They never have any serious discussion except gossiping.




All types of real women of this nation from all aspect of lives have the same agenda. They want to be taken seriously. They are well educated if not better, and they want what is their right, a serious place in society which they have gained with hard work and dedication -  what they need is representation of this achievement in our national television station.


What pleased me most about this meeting, from the beginning to the end, was not only hoping but actually experiencing in practice and for real that women Can and Will Work together, despite all efforts by some forces to the contrary, in order to improve the well being of themselves, which is none other than the men of this nation and the nation itself, given that they consist of half of the its population.


The time has come for change and change is coming so fast that nothing can stop it now; awareness has reached the Critical Mass! Well done to all those that who have or who will join this force, this new fresh breeze of fresh air which soon will become a serious wind, soft swift and effective and yes, unstoppable. Wait and see!


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