An opinion piece
I am one of the millions, perhaps billions, of people paying attention to the protests in Iran from the safety of my home in the United States. They have undeniable power over me, like the gravity of a massively dense object. I watch video after video of the protests. But, I didn’t understand why. I’m a relatively free citizen of a privileged nation. Other than the sheer bravery of it, why did these Iranians chanting protests in the streets matter so much to me?
Then, I came across a Jordan B. Peterson YouTube video where he discusses the protests and the need for a political revolution in Iran with journalist Masih Alinejad. You can watch it here. Immediately intrigued, I hit play and it crystallized: why I care about this feminist movement in a far-off country and why all women in the US need to pay attention to it.
Why I Can’t Stop Watching
As I listened to Masih describe how the current Iranian regime treats women differently than men in the name of Allah, it hit me.
You see I was raised in a strict, morality and perfection-obsessed religion that some people think is a cult. It’s not the one famous for dressing like pilgrims and sister wives, it’s the one they broke off from. There are some uncomfortable similarities, and today they became obvious.
With their words, both claim to honor and revere women for their ability to procreate. But, their actions send a different message. Women are told they must cover up or men will not be able to control themselves around them. If a man assaults a woman, it is implied that the woman is to blame. When a woman requests a divorce in the church I was raised in, even in cases of abuse, leaders do everything they can to prevent the dissolution of the marriage. Women have fewer powers and rights within both societies because they were born female.
I left that religion at 18, and I suffered some of the same consequences that Iranian women experience, although to lesser extremes. Family members and friends stopped talking to me. Those that did keep in contact questioned whether I was being selfish and causing pain with my actions. I’m still sorting through what rules for life I believe in and which were pre-programmed into me. I didn’t have to leave the country I was born in to stay alive. But I experienced enough of a taste of that life to see echoes of my personal revolution in their political one.
Why Women in the US Need to Pay Attention
You may argue that Iran is halfway across the world and has a completely different culture than the US so there’s no need for you to worry about the protests in Iran. The first part is true, but the second part is not.
Why not? Because what’s happening in Iran affects not only the lives of Iranian women but our entire sex. All women are affected by injustice to any one woman. Women are property and are murdered for tiny, inconsequential offenses. And, it’s not just women. The regime has and does systematically imprison and take the lives of minorities and men who dare to speak up against injustice.
Ask yourself, are these the actions of a regime that we can trust? Doesn’t history show us that leaders that act like this are evil, disregard human life, and will do anything to increase their power?
What guarantee do we have that the Iran government will not link arms with other ruthless dictators? Would the US and our allies be able to withstand them? Do we want to allow for the possibility that religious extremists take over the world? Call that a crazy conspiracy theory if you want, but is it really that far-fetched?
We say that we stand for freedom, justice, and democracy, but if we allow these women to fight alone, do we really? What happened to all the marches? Where are the women with the shaved heads donning their combat boots now? We’ve forgotten about our sisters in Iran. We’ve forgotten the minorities that fear for their lives. We’ve forgotten the men whose government thinks they are so weak that they would fall apart morally if women could show their hair, dance, sing, and watch sports. We’re distracted by Netflix binges and the most recent pissing match between the Democrats and Republicans.
Meanwhile, they’re still dying in a fight to restore the basic freedoms that they once had. Freedoms we take for granted. It’s time we all pay attention to the revolution in Iran.
About the Author
Dee A. Rowe lives in Los Angeles, CA, and usually blogs about finding balance and homeowners associations. She also writes poetry and fiction. It’s rare that she ventures into the world of politics, but when the muse strikes… Dee writes.
If political opinions are your jam, check out her husband’s blog.
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