There's no doubt that the gender values of the West often clash with those of other cultures, and vice versa, and the newest project at Iran's state-funded carmaker, Khodro, illustrates that point well. Building a car specifically and exclusively for women may seem like a progressive viewpoint, but the underlying assumptions of the design are what might trouble outsiders.
The car will feature an automatic transmission, electronic parking aids and a navigation system - all features deemed 'feminine' due to their implied substitution for the inherent absence of mechanical or spatial abilities. Other female-specific features include soft colors and rounder designs, child-entertainment systems in the back seat and flat-tire alarms, reports The Guardian. One peculiar inclusion is a jack designed to make it easier to change a tire - an activity that would seem to be a foray into men's duties.
As Vahid Najafi, the managing director of Khodro's sales arm, put it, "Women's necessities are different from men's. For example, a woman goes shopping, takes children to school - so this car is going to have some visual distinctions that will separate it from other cars. It will be more beautiful. Cheerful and attractive colors will be used - for example red. A series of decoration pieces will be added to the interior, on the dashboard for example. What's important for women is that the car should be comfortable and handle well."
The car will be sold only within in Iran, despite its position as part of the Samand range, which has previously been exported to Syria and Venezuela. It is expected to be available for purchase by June of 2009, in time for Iran's Women's Day.
Khodro has previously announced it is working on its own hybrid car to supplant the Prius, and an 'Islamic' car equipped with a navigation system designed to locate Mecca.