Amid speculations that Iran has made advances in nuclear technology for the purpose of making nuclear weapons, Iranian women have become inserted into the dicey conversation.
Numerous news sources have made it their prerogative to discuss exactly how Iranian women fit into this hypothetically catastrophic situation. Oddly enough, they aren’t plugging the ancient and sad mantra of helpless brown women caught between the desires of brown men and white men. Instead, they are approaching amusing, but equally problematic, dialogues.
During the past week, several online news sources, including the Huffington Post and the Daily Mail (okay, so we use the term “news sources” loosely), have been reporting on kunoichi members of a Ninjutsu club in Iran. Although this sounds like an exclusive dance club, it’s not. Kunoichi is an Iranian term for female ninjas. Some 3,000 plus Iranian women are being trained in the Japanese martial art, learning how to use bows, swords, and nunchucks, as well as how to be disciplined and sound in their use of such weapons.
A 28-year-old kunoichi, Raheleh Davoudzadeh, says of her training:
“What we’re seeing in the world of fitness and sports is the opportunity to receive training which increases our self-defense abilities and strengthens our bodies, so we are ready to defend our lives and assets.”
Another kunoichi says, “Our aim is for Iranian women to be strengthened and if a problem arises, we will definitely declare our readiness to defend our Islamic homeland.”
Sensei Akbar Faraji, the man who first introduced ninjutsu to Iran 22 years ago, explains that the ninjutsu club trains women to have strength and ability. One of the clubs instructors, Fatima Muamer, said in an interview with an Iranian TV station, that the sport greatly appeals to women because it helps them maintain a balance between the body and the mind. Ms. Muamer said of the sport and its participants, “The most important lesson in ninjutsu is respect and humility. They learn to respect themselves – first to respect their existence and then the art that they are mastering.”
While this is all swell, what’s got me less than enthusiastic is how this coverage is inserted into broader conversations regarding the treatment of women in Iran, as well as conversations regarding Israel and Iran’s tumultuous relationship—the latter resembling the clichéd positioning of Muslim women between the “East” and the “West.”
While the presence of female ninjas is being posited by news sources as Iran’s answer to Israel’s pressure to stop building nuclear weapons, it’s quite obvious that although these women may be mobilized in the advent of military conflict, the presence of ninjutsu clubs for women stretching back to 1989 makes it highly unlikely that they are being mobilized solely for the purpose of kickin’ it to Israel. So, why the sudden interest from the Daily Fail, Huffington Post, and The Telegraph? [Read more...]