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Islam And Feminism In Iran: Rethinking Gender In Transgression And Resistance

2480 words - 10 pages

Rethinking and resistance
Urf (customs and social conventions), Sharia and modernity are three main features that have defined Iranian society since the Revolution. Gender issues and power over women and their sexuality in the public and private domains have been recognised as an important topic of conflict and superposition. Modernity and resistance for many Iranian women is simply to ignore and transgress the Urf and Sharia. This resistance became more prevalent in the last decade. “Inappropriate” veiling and virtual unveiling of women writers, poets and bloggers either in the public domain or cyberspace became a widespread trend. Their writings and personal narration are their new weapon to transgress various sociocultural limitations. Their goal is to uncover their invisibility, to protest, and to originate a new identity closer to their self-consciousness. The proof for this presence can be perceived through the reports of Iran’s chief of police, Esmail Ahmadi Moghadam, after the 2013 presidential election who has said that the country is developing a software to control social-networking sites and their monthly video recordings of women’s dressing in public spheres.
Farzaneh Milani makes clear that women’s body as well as her life, thinking and words were confined behind her veil:

For centuries, veiling not only curtailed women’s bodily expression but also inhibited their verbal self-expression. Their public silence was long legitimized, spiritualized, fetishized, and idealized…. [T]he traditional Iranian beauty appears to be made more alluring by not saying anything. Silence was one of her hallmarks. (1992, 6)

In this context of the society where any expression confines to silence the voices, writing replaced the voice to unveil women’s invisibility to mobilise their expressive voices. Technology has also paved the way not only for professional writers but also many ordinary young women writers. They joined the force in spaces such as Internet through creating their weblogs, Facebook pages or any other social networks that can carry their voices to the public domain. They found a medium to self-express and this made them impetus in Iranian literature and the blogosphere. They could finally display for the first time their uncovered selves that were overpowered by the Iranian traditions. Therefore, there were two major incidents that placed women writers in direct opposition with Urf and Sharia: first, the challenging efforts of women to achieve visibility through being active in the public domain and ignoring the veiling rules, and second being active also in virtual Internet spaces. By this, women could create a new form of resistance in both real and virtual spheres known as “velvet” transgression or “civil disobedience”.

As mentioned in previous paragraphs, Sharia, Urf (customs and social conventions) and modernity are three main features that have defined Iranian society since the Revolution. Sharia, Islamic law, has had a...

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