The revolution that swept through Iran 40 years ago ruptured all diplomatic ties between Iran and the United States. This we know all too well. But another bond, one between Iranian feminists and their American counterparts, was also ruptured, which, unlike the other, occurred in virtual anonymity.
Forty years on, Iranian women—still on the streets making the very same demands—have turned into Tehran’s most indomitable opposition. Young and old, veiled and unveiled, they are staging the boldest acts of civil disobedience the nation has seen since the heady days of 1978. Last year, dozens of unveiled women mounted benches throughout the country and waved white scarves in peaceful defiance of the mandatory dress code laws. Peeling off their headscarves, girls walk on the streets filming themselves and their confrontations with busybodies and morality police. When two such women were arrested in Tehran and forced into a security van to be taken into detention, crowds surrounded the vehicle, took the door off its hinges, and set them free. What is taking place in Iran today can best be described as a rebellious sequel to the suffragettes to gain the right to dress just as their predecessors had helped women get the right to vote. Millett saw this trend decades ago, when she presciently said, “All the things we have fought for since the commencement of the women’s movement in 1847 are in great jeopardy in this society.”
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