New York Times:
Nahid Siamdoust is a postdoctoral associate of Iranian studies at Yale University and the author of “Soundtrack of the Revolution: The Politics of Music in Iran.”
While the requirements have remained firmly in place, Iranian women have been pushing the boundaries of acceptable hijab for years. Coats have gotten shorter and more fitted and some head scarves are as small as bandannas. This has not gone without notice or punishment: Hijab-related arrests are common and numerous. In 2014, Iranian police announced that “bad hijab” had led to 3.6 million cases of police intervention.
But for years, many women’s rights activists have written off the hijab as secondary to other matters such as political or gender equality rights. In 2006, the One Million Signatures for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws campaign, one of the most concerted efforts undertaken by Iranian feminists to gain greater rights for women, barely mentions the hijab. Iranian feminists have also been determined to distance themselves from the Western obsession with the hijab, almost overcompensating by minimizing its significance. Western feminists who have visited Iran and willingly worn the hijab have also played a hand in normalizing it.
But fighting discriminatory policies has not resulted in any real change, as the crushed One Million Signatures campaign proved. So now Ms. Alinejad and a younger generation of Iranian women are turning back the focus on the most visible symbol of discrimination, which, they argue, is also the most fundamental. “We are not fighting against a piece of cloth,” Ms. Alinejad told me. “We are fighting for our dignity. If you can’t choose what to put on your head, they won’t let you be in charge of what is in your head, either.” In contrast, Islamic Republic officials argue that the hijab bestows dignity on women....
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