Women in Iran / & poem 80

Note: First section copyright – Moni Basu, CNN, updated Friday, June 19, 2009 [italics added by me for emphasis]

Author and journalist Azadeh Moaveni, who spent several years working in Iran, said Ahmadinejad’s fundamentalism has pushed Iranian women to the edge. He has been a catastrophe for women,” said Moaveni.

The weight of discrimination against women is felt most profoundly through Iran’s legal system, but Moaveni said Ahmadinejad added to the hardship by clamping down on women’s lifestyles. He mandated the way women dress and even censored Web sites that dealt with women’s health, Moaveni said. A woman would be hard-pressed to conduct a Google search for something as simple as breast cancer.

Moaveni was almost arrested because her coat sleeves were too short and exposed too much skin. In that setting, she said, it’s striking to see women protesting, especially without their hijabs, or head coverings. “While it’s not at the top of women’s grievances, the hijab is symbolic. Taking it off is like waving a red flag,” Moaveni said. “Women are saying they are a force to be reckoned with.

Azar Nafisi, a professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and author of “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” said she has been watching the footage from Iran with “inordinate pride.”

She marched on the streets during the 1979 revolution because she believed in greater freedoms for her people, only to see her dreams shattered as hardline clerics took hold of Iran. “Reading Lolita” is largely a memoir of her harrowing days in Iran until 1997, when she immigrated to the United States. “The way I walked down the street became a political statement,” Nafisi said.

*****************************************************************************

I am so proud of these women. Truthfully, I have little idea of what their lives are like. But in snippets of conversations such as the ones quoted above, there is no question that women are ready for a change in Iran. This report from CNN online says so much.

I remember reading the book Reading Lolita in Tehran. I was captivated by Azar Nafisi’s descriptions of her secret reading and discussion circle with other women. I was frightened by the increasing pressure she felt as a professor in Tehran. I was horrified by her family being awakened in the night by bombings. So, yes, I am not surprised that she is watching with ‘inordinate pride’ from her safety in the United States so many years later.

Poem: Ready for a Change

Our recent election was about change.
Our lives are so easy compared to yours;
I bow in honor to the work you have before you.

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