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Feminin, Masculin
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Feminin, Masculin

In Iran there are different entrances and sections for men and women on public buses: women sit at the back, men at the front. Except on Farahnaz Shiri's bus. She's the first female bus driver in Tehran, and everything on her bus is vice-versa. She is the governor and the only lawmaker of her own little society. But what do her passenger's think? 

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Produced by the Why Democracy? project.

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Segment 1

TITLE
Why Democracy?
VOICE ON BUS
Attention passengers. Since the driver on this route is a woman, the female passengers should sit in front and the men in the back of the bus. Thank you.
FARAHNAZ SHIRI [first female bus driver in Tehran]
Sir, enter from the rear door.
TITLE
Feminin, Masculin
FARAHNAZ SHIRI
You too, please use the rear door. Madam you can enter from the rear door too. Women in front and men in the back. Sir, please enter from the rear door. Thank you.
MALE PASSENGER
Sir, circumstances have changed, ladies occupy the front and men the back section. I am astonished.
FARAHNAZ SHIRI
People who are familiar with me use the proper entrance, yet the men have the habit of entering through the front. I have shown the sections for women and men on signs. Since I started the job, significant changes have happened. Women are now allowed to sit in front and it's a privilege that they enjoy.
MALE PASSENGER
This is strange, we haven't seen it before.
INTERVIEWER
What does it mean having men ride in the back and women in front?
MALE PASSENGER
Men outnumber women, simply because in the morning more men ride the bus, but this way ...
MALE PASSENGER 2
Early in morning, there are no women in the city.
MALE PASSENGER
It has been like this for the past 25 or 26 years, but now it has changed. It's strange. When I tried to enter from the front door, I was shocked. I thought I was entering the wrong bus.
FEMALE PASSENGER
I wish I could work side by side with my husband.
INTERVIEWER
So why don't you?
FEMALE PASSENGER
It is impossible. I don't have the education.
FEMALE PASSENGER 2
It is because she's a woman.
INTERVIEWER
In Iran, with gender discrimination, how do they allow a woman bus driver?
FEMALE PASSENGER 2
I am surprised, this is rare in our society. I don't know how they decided to give permission. It is very strange! But I think it is an attempt to cover up women's real problems. I don't think women have their natural rights. Hiring a woman to do this sort of job, doesn't change anything. We need fundamental change so we are not humiliated.
INTERVIEWER
Now that women can go to the stadium or drive a bus, does this solve their problems?
FEMALE PASSENGER 2
Of course not. This could be a start that helps solve future problems. For instance, a woman should be able to become a judge. Why don't they allow a woman to be a judge? Only because of her gender. They think woman are too sensitive. But in most cases, women's logic is more powerful than men's and they have better decision-making abilities.
INTERVIEWER
Did you ever want to do what men do?
FARAHNAZ SHIRI
Always. During my childhood I grew up in an extremely traditional family, that could also be the reason for my feelings.
INTERVIEWER
Because of this, did you decide to marry early?
FARAHNAZ SHIRI
Precisely.
TITLE
Liberty Square. Revolution Square.
FARAHNAZ SHIRI
I began my work six months ago, in January. Previously my husband and I were driving instructors. In 1988, at the driving school, the authorities were very strict. But, with time, they became lenient and people got used to it. Becoming a bus driver is exactly the same, I will face the challenge and eventually it will be easier for women.
FARAHNAZ SHIRI
What the fuck are you doing? You can't imagine how he drives. You turned right in front of me, to cause an accident.
MAN
What the hell are you talking about? You are crazy.
FARAHNAZ SHIRI
All you say is nonsense jerk! When I say you drive like an arse, you should listen.
MAN
Fuck yourself.
FARAHNAZ SHIRI
You fuck yourself! Such a jerk. This guy has bothered me a few times. I complained to the authorities but they didn't think it was important. Any other woman who becomes a bus driver will face the same problems. So I have to be strong. I am a trailblazer.
INTERVIEWER
Today you came to blows with this man?
FARAHNAZ SHIRI
Yes, I slapped him. Unfortunately in our country we don't have respect for each other. Some people think women are unable to do certain jobs, and when they work outside their homes, men bother them. But they can't harass me. I will stand firm if they dare bother me.
FARAHNAZ SHIRI'S SON
I'm here to help my mother. I enjoy driving but not as a job. In my opinion driving is an absurd job. With the traffic in Tehran, driving is not a suitable job.
INTERVIEWER
If you chose a job for your mom what would it be?
SON
Housekeeping. I think a woman should be a housewife.
INTERVIEWER
What do you want to be in the future?
SON
I would like to become a judge. If a judge issues a death sentence, all he has to do is reach a verdict and sign. It is definitely less stressful than driving.
FARAHNAZ SHIRI
I'll do whatever it takes for my child to be successful, to become a judge, even if I have to work as a maid to make sure he finishes his education.
FEMALE PASSENGER 3
Life makes no distinctions between men and women. Just like a cemetery. In a cemetery, men and women are buried next to each other. There's no difference between men and women in a cemetery, so why not in a bus! Our life is like a cemetery
MALE VOICE
This woman is putting Islam in danger!
SIGN
Men's entrance.
SIGN
Women's entrance.
TITLE
[end credits]