Between 2001 and 2005, I undertook several trips to Iran in connection with a research project to study macro-economic and social changes in the rural areas of Fars province. The objective of this research was not to study the microattitudes of village women, but during the course of my field research, which involved participating in large communal gatherings such as weddings and extended family picnics, as well as attending intimate dinners in the homes of friends and colleagues, I had opportunities to interact with several young women who wanted to try out the English-language skills they had learned in high school. These occasions inevitably led to brief or lengthier conversations in Persian about various topics they seemed comfortable discussing. That I was a foreign guest, an Amrikai, and could speak their language were novel facts that prompted their interest in initiating such conversations. These conversations were random and spontaneous, but I was fascinated to hear the views of these young women, views which seemed to indicate that their attitudes toward various social issues differed from those of their own parents. I recorded the conversations each evening in fieldnote journals I keep while engaged in research. The young women were all born after the 1978 to 1979 Revolution, and at the time of our initial conversations they ranged in age from 16 to 22 and were unmarried. Most were attending or had completed high school, and a few had passed entrance exams for and were enrolled in various higher educational institutions in different small towns of Fars province. I had an opportunity to talk with a few of the women on successive research trips; some of them had become engaged or got married since our initial conversations. Being able to converse with some young women as their ideas developed over a five-year period provided an unanticipated and more complicated view of their attitudes. The significance of the views of these young women is that they reflect the changing attitudes among women in at least one rural region of Iran. The villages in which these conversations took place include Beyza, Dukuhak, Guyom, Kelestan, Qalat, and Qomsheh, all to the north-west of Shiraz, the administrative, commercial, and cultural center of Fars and one of Iran’s largest cities; and also the village of Lapui, north of Shiraz. All of these villages are on or near major paved roads, and none are more than 75 minutes by car from Shiraz. This proximity has facilitated the process of urban culture penetrating these villages in

diverse ways since the early 1980s. At the time of the 1978 to 1979 Revolution, these villages were major centers of agricultural production, all of them producing two or three times more crops than needed for local consumption (although the surplus was controlled by and sold to benefit absentee landlords).1 In the subsequent 30 years, however, income from various non-agricultural sources has become important for some households; indeed, in villages such as Dukuhak, Guyom, and Qomsheh, less than 10 percent of households depended on farming for income by the early 2000s.2 The economic changes in these villages have been accompanied by the emergence of complex social stratification patterns. In villages such as Dukuhak, Guyom, and Qalat, there are households whose incomes, lifestyles, and values are similar to those of middle-class urban households in Shiraz. Young women in such families tend to express aspirations to obtain an education and earn an income, even after marriage. In contrast, young women raised in low-income households in these same villages tend to have more limited aspirations; few of them aspire to education beyond high school or paid employment but rather focus on finding a good husband. In villages such as Beyza and Lapui, where agriculture is still important for a majority of households, young women tend to value participation in income-producing, farm-related activities organized through the rural cooperative societies over higher education. It is important to stress that the views recorded here are not the result of structured research. Rather, as mentioned above, they were gathered for the most part during informal conversations with young women at family social occasions. However, the curiosity of the women about me as an American and about my research in the villages obviously guided the conversations toward certain topics of mutual interest. Inevitably, several themes came up repeatedly in these conversations, and these will be the focus of this chapter. I have identified nine discreet themes, for each of which I gathered views from five or more young women. These themes are: family, education, work, marriage, religion, gender inequality, domestic politics, relations with the United States, and Iran’s nuclear program.3