Saturday, July 11, 2009

Iranian Women and Activism

Melody Moezzi goes a bit into the ways in which women's role in the ongoing political turmoil in Iran didn't just spring from nowhere:
"Back in the ’70s Iranian women were fighting for the right to wear hijab after the shah outlawed it; today they are fighting for the right to take it off. Regardless, they have always been fighting for the same thing: the right to freely dress and, more importantly, speak their minds. Iranian women today are not embarking on some fresh path to freedom. They are simply picking up where their mothers and grandmothers left off...

"While it may appear that young Iranian women are at the head of this struggle, their grandmothers are at its roots. And it is these roots that allow them to stand strong and continue to fight even in the face of the harshest conditions, and even when it seems like no one is watching. While these roots may appear modest at first glance, they are, in fact, legion.

"Though maybe not to the rest of the world, in her corner of Tehran, Mamaan Kuchooloo was a kind of local celebrity. Everyone called her that, too: Mamaan Kuchooloo — a play on the Persian word for grandmother, mamaan bozorg, meaning big mother. Mamaan Kuchooloo, however, means little mother. At her tallest, she stood no more than 5 feet, but her presence was immeasurable."

She could also have mentioned that women were also critical during the Constitutional Revolution a century ago. A good source for this is Janet Afary's The Iranian Constitutional Revolution, 1906-1911: Grassroots Democracy, Social Democracy, and the Origins of Feminism.

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