In response to Chauvinists vs. Shadi Sadr: invitation to write
There is a definition for everything, even definition of the word “is”! When people don’t like a definition they paint a picture of it that is wrong but easy to dismiss. Remember when Bill Clinton defined sexual relations and then managed to weave his way out of a legal jam and entertain us along the way? Here’s the actual 3 minute reminder and the freedom that allows the most powerful man in the world to be asked in a legal setting about whether or not he used a cigar somewhere he shouldn’t have!
I’m not going to define anything here but to point out how out of shape some of us have become on an issue which is supposedly near and dear to all of us but we’re too focused on a definition to understand its impact and our true identities.
The issue at hand is when an Iranian women’s rights activist – Shadi Sadr – recently said that ALL Iranian men are chauvinists and as a nation we need to overcome this problem. Please read Ms. Sadr’s article before making your conclusion. Apparently the word “ALL” does not sit well with some people and they get the pitch forks out demanding an apology and distancing themselves from her. This while she has been found guilty in absentia and sentenced to 6 years in jail and 74 lashes for standing up for women’s rights and demanding equal rights and equal justice under the law. 74 lashes!
First of all ALL is for the Iranian men inside Iran so we can discount the Iranian men outside Iran regardless of whether or not they are chauvinists. The problem is inside Iran not outside so many of us can rest easy that we are not included.
Let’s examine how the Iranian men are brought up in Iran. At the age of 6 or 7 they start school and as soon as they can read they can read the signs all over Iran that discriminates against women in public places. Signs that women with “bad” veil will not be allowed in this or that establishment. Just like the “Whites Only” signs in the segregated south which were outlawed not too long ago.
Then as they get older and higher grades they are taught the laws of the land and Islam that is specifically designed against women. For example, the inheritance laws that the wife gets 1/8 or that men can get multiple wives or that men have the final say in raising a child in a court of law and the list goes on.
With this education and mentality at some point they finish school and start dealing with women in the work place or in a relationship. Do you think that their education and the laws of the land as it relates to women have no effect and they automatically become advocates of women’s rights and equality?
No Iranian man in Iran can say that in their lifetime they have not done something chauvinistic. How is it that all these laws are established and enforced? How is it that whatever freedoms women have gained (such as the right to wear sandals :-) is because of their own fights for equality and despite all the roadblocks that men and these laws have put in their way?
So you see ALL Iranian men have this problem and ALL Iranian men need to come together and make this wrong right. We need idealists who try to make things right. If it wasn’t for idealists Whites Only signs would still be up and running in America. If at the time someone had said ALL White Americans living in the South are racists, would that have been wrong? Were they not ALL racists to some extent? Racism runs deep in America and it even affects newcomers and immigrants like us. Same with sexism in Iran and it’s not easy to overcome it.
The idealists who tried to make things right had different approaches and we had leaders ranging from Martin Luther King to Malcolm X. They were a product of that time and while I’m not comparing Shadi Sadr with Malcolm X , I do want to applaud her courage and ambition to make changes in Iran and for making this bold statement.
It is upon us to use this opportunity and debate the issue without sugar coating it. Those of you who’ve been to Iran and watched the 7 or 8 state channels know what I’m talking about and those who haven’t allow me to paint this picture for you.
Other than cutting programming (including Breaking News :-) 5 times a day to run prayers and have some pre-prayer and post-prayer programming, their other major programming is to have these vagina nuts in half shaven beards talk and debate various issues of Iran and the world. You’ve seen some of their clips here on i.com.
These “intellects” and Islamic think tanks owe their half shaven image to George Michael who in the 80s, when Islamic Republic came of age, made this look fashionable! Otherwise they’d be debating with Taliban style beards.
So these vagina nuts sporting gay fashion sit down and discuss how feminism has failed and how in Iran women are treated better and with respect! Then every so often they go to the streets and ask people and of course people know in order to be shown on TV they have to say what they want to hear and they even get women to make asinine statements such as why don’t feminists try to make chador fashionable? Why do they follow the western fashion? And when they talk to “feminists” they hide these women’s faces as if they’re wrong anyway and their bad image is not to be shown on TV. We don’t even know who these “feminists” are and for all we know they are Fati commandos just faking it.
As many of our good readers have said the fight for women’s rights is not different from fight for justice in Iran as a whole. There are many men who fight side by side women. I’m sure at some point they looked inside and realized in order to be a good idealist they first have to look inside. When our good writer Hossein Bagher Zadeh, whose views and analyses I value, wrote about this same issue he admitted that for the first and last time in his life he said something chauvinistic. Our good friend may have given himself a discount and there may have been more than one occasion (just kidding :-) but even that one occasion puts him in the ALL category. By the way that article and this other article about Islamic Republic’s call to fight women at the height of summer season and heat every year for the past 30 years are 2 good articles to read and ponder.
Bottom line in my opinion we can’t let chauvinists define feminists but we can let feminists define chauvinists. You can let our resident feminist “experts” shower you with their asinine views like the TV debaters in Iran or you can save yourself a lot of time. Feminist is not a bad word. I’m not an expert in it but know that Shadi Sadr claims to be one and her counterparts in other parts of the world have fought and won rights for women. It may not be fashionable now for some but we have a long way to go in Iran and can sure use their history and experience.
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