On the surface, the revolution of 79 and now the ‘Green Revolution’ are governance-based uprisings. Look a little deeper, and we see previously veiled women removing their veils for the first time, older women taking an active role in marches, and women gathering in coffee shops, bars, and public spaces to discuss politics where normally only men would gather. Below are some snippets and suggested reading from recent articles I’ve encountered dealing with Iranian sexuality:
On one side, is an all-male cabal of gun-totting, club-wielding men — the Army, the Revolutionary Guard and the volunteer militia — supported by the pantheon of the highest government offices in the land — the Supreme Leadership, the Presidency, and membership in the Guardian Council — all monopolized by men.
…On the other side, is a sea of lawfully demonstrating men and women marching side by side and shoulder to shoulder. Holding hands, green in color, hopeful in outlook, vibrant and non-violent, they fight bullets and batons with open hands and support Mir Hossein Moussavi, who is often accompanied by his wife, Zahra Rahnavard.
A synonym for the word “woman” in the Persian language is Pardeh Neshin: “She who sits behind the curtain / the veil / the screen.” The expression perpetuates, even linguistically, the cultural ideal of woman’s absence in public. Pardeh Neshin implies enclosure, invisibility, and controlled mobility, all associations that are inseparable from conventional definitions of femininity in Iran.
via Tehran Bureau
The regime’s failure to allow women into public life has made transexuality in Iran a unique window through which one can observe the hypocrisy of gender. In the documentary film Be Like Others by Tanaz Eshaghian, we learn the surprising social politics of transexuality in Iran in this interview:
What do you remember from the preliminary phone conversations with these people before you went to Iran?
Cleric Kariminiya, who had written his “PhD”—the Islamic version of a PhD that a cleric gets—on applying Islamic law and thinking to transsexual identity, really gave me a sense of another world. He was fantastic. He had also explored such topics as what happens to the inheritance of a male that becomes a female (Under Islam a woman gets half of what a man gets for inheritance). He let me know that because of a sex change, the person is now female—and gets half!