Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 1 Share on Twitter 1 Share on LinkedIn Share on Reddit Tell A Friend Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites
OpEdNews Op Eds

Discovering Iran

By       Message Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags
Add to My Group(s)

Well Said 2   Supported 2   Valuable 2  
View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H3 11/7/14

Author 5429
Become a Fan
  (19 fans)
- Advertisement -
Marcel Proust said: "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." During the past two decades, I visited Iran on numerous occasions staying 10-14 days at a time. This time around, I stayed for 2 months and heeding Proust, I carried with me a fresh pair of eyes. I discarded both my Western lenses as well as my Iranian lenses and observed with objective eyes. It was a formidable journey that left me breathless.

Part I - Women of the Islamic Republic of Iran

- Advertisement -

It is hard to know where to start a travel log and how to describe a newfound world in a few pages. However, given the obsession with the status of women, it is perhaps appropriate to start with the women in Iran as I perceived them.

Western media with help from feminists and Iranians living outside of Iran portray Iranian women as being "oppressed" -- foremost because women in Iran have to abide by an Islamic dress code - hijab. Yes, hijab is mandatory and women choose to either wear either a chador or to wear a scarf. But what is crucial to understand is the role chador played in pre 1979 versus the post Revolution era.

- Advertisement -

Prior to the 1979 Revolution, the chador was indicative of a thinly veiled caste system. While a few distinguished women of high socio-economical background chose to wear the chador, the rest, the majority of Iranian women, were simply born into the habit. In short, the socio-economically disadvantaged wore the pre 1979 chador. In those days, the chador was a hindrance to a woman's progress; she was looked down at and frowned upon. She could not move forward or up. She was oppressed. But Western feminists were blind to this oppression. After all, the Shah was modern and America's friendly dictator.

The Revolution changed the status quo and chipped away at the caste system. A revolution, by definition, is a complete change in the way people live and work. And so it is with the Iranian Revolution. The post 1979 chador is no longer an impediment to a woman's future. Today's Iranian woman, the same (formerly) less privileged class, has found freedom in her chador. She has been unshackled and she marches on alongside her (formerly) more privileged colleague. This emancipation is what the Western/Westernized feminists see as oppression.

I myself come from yesterday's tiny minority of "privileged" women, far too comfortable in my "Western" skin to want to promote hijab, but I will not allow my personal preferences to diminish the value of the progress made because of hijab. The bleeding hearts from without should simply change their tainted lenses instead of trying to change the lives of others for Iranian women do not need to be rescued, they do not follow -- they lead.

- Advertisement -

On two separate occasions I had the opportunity to sit and talk with a group of PhD students at Tehran University's Global Studies Department. Frankly, these young women charmed me. Their inquisitive and sharp minds, their keen intellect, their vast knowledge, their fluent English, and their utter confidence dazzled me. Western feminists would consider them "oppressed". Seems to me that feminism needs rescuing, not Iranian women.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3  |  4


- Advertisement -

Well Said 2   Supported 2   Valuable 2  
View Ratings | Rate It

Soraya has lived and studied in-Iran, UK, France, and has obtained her Master's degree in Public Diplomacy from USC Annenberg and USC School for International Studies, Los Angeles.- She is an independent researcher, public speaker, radio (more...)

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Rude Awakening

Nukes and Temples

Samantha Power And The Age Of Genocide; Rwanda 1994 vs Gaza 2014

Abduction or Defection: The Case of Iran's Nuclear Scient

The Mushroom Effect

Blowback in Ferguson