Persian Dirt Under The Carpet


Persian Dirt Under The Carpet
by Azadeh Azad

When you speak of purging gender apartheid

Bear in mind mixing public places would invite

Sexual harassment of anything female that moves

As it was done by men and boys under the Shah.


Their smut ran through sun-soaked streets of Tehran

Group catcalls to women, girls and grandmothers

Brought me a loathing I should have lived without

I wonder how will tomorrow be any brighter.


Boys gathered on street corners, hung out

At all-girls high school entrances

For lewd remarks and spastic gestures

That ripped me like razor blade in open eye.


In the men-filled darkness of cinemas

Screams of girls subjected to invasive touch

By descendents of Cyrus was too much

Blow buried in graves stoned in my mind.


On the cramped buses, groping of girls’ breasts

And buttocks went on like a gangrene

Eating away at nation’s "grandeur" routine

And made me lean on the air for support.


We were told to simply ignore these molesters

Who were always lechers and thugs, amazingly

Never our brothers, husbands or fathers. Our own

Men "too sweet" to make mischief in any crowd zone.


No law to shield us, our protest deemed vulgar

Blades of blame pointed at our short skirts

Our makeup or curves of our bodies at fault

I wonder how will tomorrow be any brighter.


"Don’t let Westerners find out of this place

Of shame, this plague our countrymen inflict

Upon us. Swallow all up and point

Fingers at colonisers and the CIA."


After the Blunder 1979, male tormenters cleared up

The streets for the Islamic police to jump in instead

To bother women and girls for showing strands of hair

Gender harassment replaced sexual harassment indeed.


Only at least, wrapped women thrown to the back seats

Of buses and halls feel safe from unwanted touch

Although your sons harass my daughters as soon as

The Morality Police get more lenient and such.


I wonder how will tomorrow be any brighter

When women have to invent women-only taxis

Driven by women drivers to shun men’s filth

In the land of rose and nightingale that cradled me.


I wonder how will tomorrow be any brighter!


© Azadeh Azad, 2008


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