‘The blatant evidence that a woman’s failure to cover a few strands of hair can upend her right to security, life, and freedom has shocked Iran’s conscience.’

‘[A] distinct feature of the current protests is the presence of very young women at the forefront. In many of the protests, women appear to outnumber men and do not seem afraid of being seen without hijab, even in the presence of security forces…

As evinced by the outburst of public indignation triggered by [Mahsa] Amini’s death, her case is not seen as an isolated incident but the visible tip of an iceberg of injustice, humiliation, indignity, and oppression routinely felt by countless Iranian women intercepted by the so-called guidance patrols charged with enforcing Article 638 of the Islamic Penal Code: refusing to comply with state’s conception of “Islamic hijab” in public spaces is a criminal offense punishable by flogging, incarceration, or a fine…

More than four decades after the Islamic Republic embarked on the Sisyphean enterprise of bureaucratizing a very narrow definition of Islamic morality, with an almost obsessive focus on women’s appearance in public, mandatory hijab as well as the institutions set up to enforce it have failed veritably at forcing the state’s interpretation of “Islamic hijab” on Iranian women.

Instead, this encroachment on women’s liberty has gradually sown resentment in the hearts of millions of Iranian women and their families—resentment not only toward a dehumanizing law but also toward the state as a whole. Countless videos now course through social media showing the humiliating way Iranian police officers routinely manhandle women into vans before they are taken to detention centers to be “guided” and “educated.” Such encounters are at best stressful and patronizing, and at worst lethally brutal.

It is also counterproductive. In the face of such repression, women’s voluntary adherence to the state’s ideal hijab has not increased but drastically decreased over the last few decadessomething even authorities openly acknowledge. Support for the hijab law and the morality police is even lower than the rates of public compliance…’

Sajjad Safaei, Foreign Policy


Injustice, humiliation, indignity, and oppression: It’s important to think hard about the micro-phenomenology of all the heavy black coverups – of face and mouth and breast and head and hands – reserved for the world’s women.

Now, the Syracuse University pool-drapers (see this post) will say the following: We love God, and we know that the right way to humble ourselves before our loved one is to hide from men, because above all God asks that we do not allow our female sexuality to tempt man to sin.

We can point out all we like that there’s no scriptural warrant for self-demeaning behavior whose roots lie above all, obviously, in fear – a fear of exposure and engagement and visibility that must be instilled in women at a very young age. Hijabs are something you put on your eight-year-old.

Its roots lie also in repression and self-hatred — from a young age you regard yourself as a vessel of sin that must be put away. Any stray hair may lead an innocent man to perdition. You must police your hoods and robes constantly, as do the Iranian morality police, for the slightest betrayal of your atrocious allure. It is hard to think of anything more purely, more deeply, more thoroughly, more malignantly, misogynistic.


Who can be surprised that Iran’s women have correctly identified the state’s “obsessive focus” on… the economy? education?… no – on the perverted and violent erasure of women – as intimately and unacceptably humiliating every single moment of their lives? Who can have failed to grasp the self-annihilating stupidity of a state that thinks tickling the dicks of morality boys is more important than statecraft? It was always a matter of time before the lascivious/homicidal energy against women implicit in Islamic Iran’s twisted founding principle destroyed enough women and girls to detonate a populace enraged by daily sexual degradation.

All of this makes the work of Western hijabis – who disseminate material like this to free women who might be persuadable to be unfree – much, much, harder. Good.

The West’s idiot fashion enthusiasm for the hijab is due for a takedown. Here’s one.

[P]eople in the West continued to regurgitate the Islamist propaganda, insisting to we who know better that wearing hijab is simply “an empowering choice.” … You continued to parade the hijab on the cover of your magazines and books as if it was nothing more than benign cultural dress…

You actively supported extremists who encouraged you to make child-size hijabs in the name of inclusion and diversity.

Endorsing hijab on children is endorsing child abuse and gender segregation. Those are not cultural values; those are toxic misogynist ideals.

Here’s another:

When I see non-Muslim western women donning a hijab in so-called solidarity with Muslim women, I wonder if they take into consideration the oppression of women in Iran. For many, the hijab has become an odd sort of feminist symbol, but they do not take into account that the majority of women in the Muslim world only wear a hijab when they are forced to do so.

Hey, Hijabis! You gonna let him get away with that?

A guy’s writing in the New Yorker, of all places, and he says this:

[A]s the popular legitimacy of the Iranian regime has crumbled, its leaders have clung to antiquated concepts of female modesty to prop it up.

If that doesn’t bait you, nothing will. You’ve been telling all of us that burqas, much less hijabs, are liberating choices for modern women; you have railed against burqa bans; you have organized international everyone wear a hijab days. Now, with a massive hijab burning going on in Iran, western observers seem less and less shy about saying how they really feel about the hijab and its reliable companion – big dark blowsy body robes that cover up any sign that you have a female body (these robes are also mandatory in Iran).

Remember the ill-fated Council of Europe campaign that said FREEDOM IS IN HIJAB???? Remember how it enraged politicians all over Europe and was immediately shut down and rejected by the Council of Europe itself, which basically said We fucked up?

What are we learning here, ladies?

Tell you what. The heroines of Iran are really messing up your campaign to make us see antiquated marks of female modesty as hip marks of empowerment. I see trouble ahead unless you stop being pussies and instead find your Phyllis Schlafly and let her bellow out your truth: Hijabs and body covering robes are beautiful, emancipatory…

‘The Ukrainians’ efforts have demonstrated that liberal democracy and human dignity are causes people are still willing to fight and die for. They are showing that these ideas have great power.’

Also the Iranians’ incredibly brave efforts. The attention of the world is, rightly, on the dissenters in the streets of Tehran as well as on the Ukrainians. But the forces of illiberal democracy – A sham designation, no? Fascism is better. – in Russia, Hungary, Italy, and of course right here in the MAGA movement – are certainly on the march, and we must always call them out, and fight them with whatever weapons we have.

I do wonder about Europe’s militant hijabis. What do they have to say? Why have we not heard their opinion of this massive anti-hijab movement?

‘Gasht-e Ershad [the Iranian morality police] is wrong because it has had no result except loss and damage for the country.’

One – only one – Iranian politician gets it. When the state deputizes squads of insane misogynists/religious fanatics to wander all over Tehran harassing women who don’t look quite as much like death warmed over as they would like, you’re asking for trouble.

I mean, I’m sure these loons have been beating/jailing inadequately hijabed women there for some time; but since no one’s up and died, it hasn’t been that big a deal, right?

But it was only a matter of time before the nutso woman-hatred Iran has let loose on its streets (and after all, as Mona Eltahawy points out, violent woman-hatred was already baked in long before the loons assumed power) was going to kill someone; and since Iran already has millions of women who profoundly resent mandatory swaddling, the shit has now hit the fan with the killing of a young woman in custody.

Wonder if it’ll spread to Afghanistan.

It certainly seems to be spreading – quickly – through Iran.

The disgraceful practice of placing infants and children under hijabs…

… has attracted growing interest in democratic countries, with the latest proposed crackdown on it coming from Denmark, where a commission has recommended a hijab ban in elementary schools.

‘Islamic veil: Why fewer women in North Africa are wearing it.’

What a welcome headline! And when you put it together with what looks like a really serious rebellion against mandatory woman-covering in Iran, the future of the secular public realm, and of equality between the sexes, seems a bit brighter.

We shouldn’t forget, along these lines, the myriad burqa bans around the globe.

The article from whose headline I quote above duly notes the now-notorious irony:

Merely criticising the hijab in Western democracies has also become almost synonymous with “Islamophobia” or attacks on minority rights.

But in Muslim-majority societies it is still regarded as part of a legitimate campaign for the liberation of women from stifling tradition.

‘Dozens of women have been jailed in Iran for their activism against forced veiling.’

On the regime’s recent Celebrate Your Nonexistence Day, some brave Iranian women removed their veils – only the latest form of hijab-disobedience among women forced to abide that theocracy.

Things are of course much, much darker in Afghanistan; UD will admit to having trouble thinking about daily life for girls and women in Afghanistan. But Iran is also a hellhole for women, who must start swaddling themselves at age nine or risk long jail terms.

Yet there’s plenty of evidence that many women and men there are willing to kick hard against the regime’s sex-obsession, even if it means imprisonment. Indeed there is reason to hope that at some time in the not too distant future imams may be able to glance at unveiled women without getting non-Allah-approved hard-ons.

You didn’t really mean it, right? Actually, yes, we really meant it.

France is a secular republic, and this matters to them. Within that secularity, the equality of women and men – anathema to many theocracies – also matters to them. When France outlawed burqas, burkinis, and other overt marks of gender and religious submission, it made a strong statement about the primary importance of preserving to the extent possible a secular, egalitarian, public realm.

The full draping of women’s bodies in an expression of obedience to religious modesty mandates is anathema to a secular, egalitarian republic like France, so no one should be surprised that the city of Grenoble’s attempt to disobey the country’s burkini ban would provoke an outcry.

Grenoble has done what it can within the country’s court system to try to uphold its refusal to ban the garment, but today France’s top administrative court said nope. Not in public.

Grenoble is free to go to higher international courts, and I suppose it will. It won’t prevail there either.

‘The Taliban want to remove us women from society, which is why they are now forcing us to wear a hijab or burqa.’

Sing it, sister.

‘The “burqa edict” is not just an escalation in the oppression of women. It is a declaration of war against their basic humanity. And with it, the Taliban has exposed its true intentions. How we respond is essential not only to the women of Afghanistan but for women everywhere.’

Okay, but where are the op/eds from rafts of Western women intellectuals, and from jolly burqa wearers all over Europe, saying Well of course there shouldn’t be an edict, but burqas are beautiful empowering expressions of piety and selfhood and you’re all defaming them just as much as Johnny and Amber are defaming each other … ?

I mean, everyone’s dumping on the burqa lately… It’s almost as if people think there’s… something wrong… with a heavy agonizingly constraining black full body bag robbing wearers of sunlight and peripheral vision, and featuring a heavy cloth strip over the mouths of women and little girls as if I mean is there some sort of symbolic value there…? That mouth thing?

So where are its defenders? They’re noisy enough when countries begin voting for burqa bans. They organize big pro-burqa marches and they tell us we’re Islamophobes for objecting to burqas. Where is all that moral passion now that everyone’s acting as if burqas are obviously atrocious? I’m waiting.

Sing it.

How ya gonna keep em

Buried and choked

After they’ve learned

To breathe?


Aw hell. Since, post-Taliban burqa mandate, everyone’s got nasty shit to say about that garment (and where are all the British burqa’ed women who routinely show up on the telly to insist that the shroud is beautiful and empowering?), I think we should revisit Polly Toynbee on the subject. SOS says: She’s a hell of a writer.

The top-to-toe burka, with its sinister, airless little grille, is more than an instrument of persecution, it is a public tarring and feathering of female sexuality. It transforms any woman into an object of defilement too untouchably disgusting to be seen. It is a garment of lurid sexual suggestiveness: what rampant desire and desirability lurks and leers beneath its dark mysteries? In its objectifying of women, it turns them into cowering creatures demanding and expecting violence and victimisation. Forget cultural sensibilities.

More moderate versions of the garb – the dull, uniform coat to the ground and the plain headscarf – have much the same effect, inspiring the lascivious thoughts they are designed to stifle. What is it about a woman that is so repellently sexual that she must diminish herself into drab uniformity while strolling down Oxford Street one step behind a husband who is kitted out in razor-sharp Armani and gold, pomaded hair and tight bum exposed to lustful eyes? (No letters please from British women who have taken the veil and claim it’s liberating. It is their right in a tolerant society to wear anything including rubber fetishes – but that has nothing to do with the systematic cultural oppression of women with no choice.)

Yes, you’re starving. But at least you have to wear a burqa!

Campaign slogan, Afghan Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhunzada.

His song:

A bag of bones under a full-body wrap!

Now tell me which leader can do better than that!


UPDATE: Comes now a charismatic young challenger to Akhunzada…

Campaign slogan: We CAN do better than that! I guarantee that that corpse will be a nine-year-old girl with no clitoris, just sold off to a seventy-year-old man!

Taliban Returns to the Burqa
To the tune of Clementine.

Tried the hijab, tried abaya
Tried to keep our peckers down
But your nostrils we espy - ed
And our stiffies went to town

Only burqa only burqa
Only burqa keeps us down
We are lost and gone forever
When you wear just half a gown

O you whorish godless creatures
How you make our wieners fizz
When you show your brazen features
All the streets are lined with jiz

Only burqa only burqa
Only burqa keeps us down
We are lost and gone forever
When you just wear half a gown
If you missed No Hijab Day yesterday…

… here’s some required reading on the subject.

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