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<Long> Do you think this guard was bad or kind?

(71 Posts)
questionzzz Tue 12-Jun-18 16:00:35

I am of Iranian origin, immigrated to a western country several years ago, and have visited my birth country only a few times since.

A young (teenager) relative of mine (lived all her life in the west), decided to do a school project about women's rights in Iran. She asked me (and several other family members) to share a personal experience of life in Iran which was related to our human rights.
So I shared this below. After reading it, my young relative was very upset, and said she would have liked to (figuratively, I hope!) kill that guard.
I said I think she missed the point, the guard was actually being kind to me. (at least, that's how I felt then).
What do you think?

Most people know that in Iran, women have to cover their hair and their body when they go outside, leaving only their hands and faces uncovered. In government buildings, the dress code is much stricter: women are not allowed any make-up, and their clothes have to be much more modest and covered than usual.There are guards outside government building who,apart from security, also control what women are wearing, and if they feel a women is not covered modestly enough, they can refuse her entrance.

A few years ago, I had to visit the passport office to renew my children's Iranian passports. Mindful of regulations, I dressed extra modestly, with a large loose dark scarf and coat concealing my hair and figure, and no make-up. However, I forgot to wipe off my nail polish.The guard at the entrance of the office stopped me, and said I was not allowed to enter with painted nails. I was upset- we didn't have a lot of time in Tehran, and it was a full day to get to the passport office and back. Seeing how upset I was, the guard relented. He gave me a pair of gloves, and said if I put them on and kept my hands covered, I could enter the building.

Looking at the gloves, I shuddered. Originally white, they were now a filthy grey. They were also too big for me. But I dare not refuse. I drew on the disgusting gloves over my hands. I could feel my skin prickle and start to itch. I reminded myself that it was my own fault for disobeying the regulation. I reminded myself I was there for my children. Like millions of Iranian women, bullied and harassed everyday, remind themselves. It is their own fault. And they have to obey the laws, for their children, for their parents. So, with a will of steel, I entered the passport office, thanking the guard for his courtesy in helping me and allowing me to enter.

questionzzz Tue 12-Jun-18 16:04:58

Just realised I chose a bad time to post as I have to step out now. Thank you in advance for any comments!

UtterlyDesperate Tue 12-Jun-18 16:06:18

I think it was kind - kind of him to work with a deeply flawed system so that you could still do what you needed to do when you needed to do it. That doesn't mean that the system itself is ok, though.

QueenofLouisiana Tue 12-Jun-18 16:06:23

While the dress code and inequality makes me annoyed, I think that the individual action was kindly meant. He could have continued to refuse entry- going by the letter of the law- but found a workaround. Not ideal by any means, but with the best intentions.

MoMandaS Tue 12-Jun-18 16:07:05

Kind within the parameters of his remit, yes; but it's hard to read such an eloquent description of the event without feeling extremely uncomfortable and I suspect that's what prompted your relative's reaction.

MothertotheLordsofmisrule Tue 12-Jun-18 16:07:22

The guard gave a solution which allowed you to enter the building without the chance of someone else inside turning you away or him refusing you entry.

If he had just let you in there may have been another official who would have chucked you out and you would have had to return.

Ideally there shouldn’t been any restrictions but what he did was kind.

SuperLoudPoppingAction Tue 12-Jun-18 16:07:53

He wasn't being mean. He was part of a system that is mean. Within that system he did what he could although maybe he could have kept clean gloves!

teaandtoast Tue 12-Jun-18 16:18:13

I think it was kind of him.

Gizlotsmum Tue 12-Jun-18 16:20:24

In those circumstances he was being kind

FaFoutis Tue 12-Jun-18 16:20:28

He was kind within his limits, but the system is sickening.

Bloodybridget Tue 12-Jun-18 16:22:06

Yes, the guard was helping you. I don't know under what circumstances you left Iran, and I'm sure you must miss being in your own country, but I am so glad you don't have to conform to those misogynistic regulations any more.

Shumpalumpa Tue 12-Jun-18 16:23:28

Sorry, but is your teenage relative usually so thick?

Of course he was trying to help in the only way he could.

FaFoutis Tue 12-Jun-18 16:24:29

She's clearly blaming the guard for upholding the rules.

siwel123 Tue 12-Jun-18 16:26:06

He wasn't mean he seems quite nice.
Yes the system is horrible in or an regarding women's rights however under the circumstances he did a really nice think to technically break the rules for you.

NotARegularPenguin Tue 12-Jun-18 16:27:20

I guess if the guard had let you in against the rules you could have been in trouble if another official was awkward? So yes he had to uphold the rules as best he could for your sake.

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Tue 12-Jun-18 16:36:13

I also think he was being kind within the specific context of the situation you found yourself in. He found a solution to your problem rather than just mindlessly following the rules.

That doesn't make the rules OK but he wasn't to blame for them.

Trinity66 Tue 12-Jun-18 16:37:58

Yeah I echo everyone else really, the system itself is disgusting, the guard atleast bent the rules a bit to allow you in. I understand why your relative would be upset to read that though

questionzzz Tue 12-Jun-18 16:38:11

Thank you all, though, I mean the guard wasn't the main point of the story anyway, but maybe the way I wrote it for her made her think he was?

AsAProfessionalFekko Tue 12-Jun-18 16:39:08

He understood - as most Iranians do.

questionzzz Tue 12-Jun-18 16:41:11

And yes, even though it happened so many years ago, it actually made me feel upset and teary and shaky writing it again, although at the time, I was "only" annoyed about being made to wear dirty gloves, while simultaneously feeling grateful to the guard. I was so stressed about passports and everything else that this was just a blip, if you see what I mean.

Chaotica Tue 12-Jun-18 16:41:51

The guard was being kind. He didn't make the rules. Maybe the age and state of the gloves showed how many times he'd helped women out. Ridiculous system though.

tempester28 Tue 12-Jun-18 16:46:35

He was being kind within a very wrong system. He probably has female relatives who have to get things done at gov buildings and knows that turning you away on the day would cause hardship. He probably handed those gloves to quite a few people! If he was a bad person he would have sent you away and not offered the gloves. Offering the gloves probably indicates he believed it was not wrong to wear nail varnish. If so then you were both in the same boat. You needed your passport so couldn't protest and he needed his job so couldn't permit the nail varnish. Your young relative might feel you should have "killed the guard" but it is not so easy when you have a lot to lose.

ThePlanetGoesOnBeingRound3 Tue 12-Jun-18 16:47:02

Plot line is OK but a bit predicatable and needs some character development of the guard and your encounter with him.
What did he look like?
Where were the gloves?
How surreptitiously did he present them to you?
What colour was your nail polish?
So many questions.

Miserysquared Tue 12-Jun-18 16:47:36

Seems like a non-event when viewed in context.

tempester28 Tue 12-Jun-18 16:49:18


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