Americans not only come across as patronizing but also often miss the complexity of gender roles in the Islamic world. “I’m a Nobel Peace Prize–winner and a university professor, but if I testify in a court, it won’t take my testimony because I’m a woman,” notes Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer. “Any uneducated man would be taken more seriously…. Iran is a bundle of contradictions. Women can’t testify fully in court, and yet women can be judges presiding over the court. We do have women judges. Any woman who wants to travel abroad needs the consent of her husband. But our vice president is a woman. So when our vice president travels abroad, she needs the consent of her husband. Meanwhile, sixty-five percent of Iranian university students are women, because they do better on entrance exams than men do.
—Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky (via leftbetweenthepages)