Iran’s compulsory hijab: comments & personal experience

“We believe in hijab, but we hate compulsory hijab.”

“Iran is for all Iranians – you can’t just hide one side of Iran and show the other side of Iran, and say this is Iran. This is a lie. Iran is me and my mother. My mother wants to wear a scarf. I don’t want to wear a scarf. Iran should be for both of us.”

Masih Alinejad’s Facebook project is My Stealthy Freedom.

From Vox’s “How one Iranian women is using Facebook to fight Iran’s mandatory dress code“.

I used to think that the hijab is tantamount to the repression of Iranian women. When traveling to Iran and having to cover, it was suffocating for me. After asking many women there about their experiences with hijab, I received feedback from those that despised it.

One comment, however, resonated with me – a friend mentioned that she thought the hijab and Islamic covering was liberating. I couldn’t even comprehend what she was saying. My friend was not very religious either, but bought into this tradition for other – seemingly rational- reasons. In justifying it, she didn’t invoke any religious doctrine.

She said it took away distractions and permitted men to take her words seriously, instead of focusing on her curves. She told me that with a hijab, no man is sizing her up and sexualizing her; her hijab and mantu (loose clothing, often like a jacket often worn with hijab) saved her from cat calls. While my own experience demonstrated that men will cat call and follow you for almost any reason in a bazaar, her words stayed with me.

From my own experience with Iranian and Iranian-American cultures, women are often regarded as a object, something beautiful to be looked at, cherished, and protected. This is pervasive in my family, but is dichotomous with intelligence; so there is an added pressure of being both beautiful and brilliant. For a second, I thought about the words of my friend – how nice would it be to don an invisibility cloak that took away the beauty and instead focused on my brains? While that may be the case in Iran, here, the effect is virtually opposite. Wearing the traditional Islamic garments here will often bring you more attention than not.

Aside from this anecdote, Alinejad’s work compels us to think about the compulsory nature of the hijab in Iran and urges viewers to consider it should be a choice.

War with Iran is not the answer.

Not again.

There’s a resolution on the Senate floor (Senate Resolution (SR) 65) that would pledge American support to Israel in the case of an attack on Iran. Not only would this be detrimental to the moving-at-the-speed-of-molasses international talks with Iran, but, more importantly, the United States cannot afford to expand the Global War on Terror (GWOT) and another Iraq.

Feel strongly about this?

Check out the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), who very cleverly named their advocacy initiative “Don’t ‘Iraq’ Iran”.

The National Iranian-American Council (NIAC) also provides some talking points to bring up to your Senator.

Other sides of Iran.

I stumbled upon this recent Atlantic article, and in a frenzy of clicks here and tangents there, I’ve decided to compile a list of interesting websites, articles, blogs, etc. that have photos from Iran.

Check out pictures of everyday life in Iran. And these too.

A friend of mine, who studied at the Corcoran, frequents Iran and has pictures of it peppered throughout her professional photography website and Facebook.

Humans of New York went to Iran, and this is what he saw.

Here is some shameless self-promotion.

Finally, do you have any pictures of Iran you want me to link on this post? Comment or email me, and I’d be happy to include them!

“Struggling Under the Sanctions”: Petition to Help Iranian Students in US Universities

Please consider signing this petition by the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) to ask the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to allow Iranian students with F-1 visas – who are increasingly finding it difficult to pay their tuition given the depreciation of the Iranian rial due to sanctions – the opportunity to work off-campus, an ability that they do not currently have with those visas.

Also see what good work Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) is doing to help struggling Iranian students.