Women and the 1979 Revolution

This article by Haideh Moghissi, found on Project Muse here, discusses women’s roles in the 1979 revolution and after from a very different perspective than Dr. Ansia Khaz Ali as posted earlier on this blog. Moghissi talks of her own experiences as a participant in the Islamic Revolution, what she describes as the secular forces’ “miscognition of the true character of the Islamists’ agenda,” and characterizes Khomeini’s government as a propaganda machine that used Islam to limit women’s social and legal rights. Where Dr. Ali asserted that the Islamic Republic’s enforcement of the hijab was a means of promoting women’s rights because it banned the sexual objectification of women, Moghissi argues that it one of many ways that the government seeks to keep women subordinate to men and keep them from participating in politics or forming powerful oppositions. She frames this discussion in terms of her severe disillusionment with the Islamic Revolution, in which she claims the left was so infatuated with Khomeini’s anti-imperialism that they overlooked the authoritarian, repressive, and misogynist undertones of the Ayatollah’s rhetoric. Now Iranian women live in a society where every action is scrutinized in terms of religious morality as defined by men, which she characterizes as a violation of personal agency and human rights. It seems as though Moghissi believes that the choice to dress and act as one wants, whether it can be interpreted as sexually objectifying or not, is a right, where Dr. Ali believes that revealing oneself in a society where one can be objectified if it is not intended is a violation of rights in itself.

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