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From the Journals of Iranian Women


Something very strange and interesting happened at the hair salon today. A woman came in with head scarves and shawls for sale. One of the salon’s stylists jokingly told her that people don’t buy scarves anymore, that it is no longer profitable and that she should change her job. In response, the woman said that was not true and that certain people are trying to promote secularism and prostitution in society. We were all stunned, but nobody said anything to her.


One officer told a teenage girl to move and stand somewhere else. The young girl looked at him coldly and said, “Are we bothering you?” Another guy came and said to the policeman, “Reza, let it go,” and took him away. I looked at the young girl and blew her a kiss. She blew a kiss back.


 Now we can eat in restaurants without wearing the hijab, and not a single person says, “Madam, put your hijab back on.” The university security no longer pesters students about their attire. People don’t defend this regime in classes anymore. It doesn’t matter that we don’t protest in the streets. People are kinder and look out for one another every day. If a guard or a security person bothers a student, everyone will come to the rescue. I think it’s beautiful.


There was one beautiful girl with short blond hair. At the start of the uprising, women were cutting off their hair as an act of protest and a sign of mourning. Seeing her got me emotional. For years we had fantasized about the day we would take off our scarves and let the wind blow through our hair. But now that we can be unveiled, we no longer have our long hair. We cut it for that very basic freedom. Our dreams are always one step ahead of us.


Today I was talking to my family about how much people check you out in Iran and how much time you spend thinking about what to wear. It feels like you’re under constant surveillance. But I’ve noticed a change in attitude among men. Before this movement, if I went out with my red hair showing or wearing a cool outfit, some men would follow or harass me. Cars would slow down and honk their horns. Now we go out without hijab, we wear what we want and men don’t say anything. They nod in approval. They smile.


A Twitter friend posted something interesting. Until four or five years ago, he wrote, he never missed a single prayer, but now every time he hears the call to prayer, he starts cursing. Many people around me are turning away from Islam. Some religious families have stopped practicing and even asked the women in their families to take off their hijabs. What will happen to those who no longer pray and are irritated by the call to prayer? Or those who even make fun of religion? How are they going to feel once their anger has subsided? What will happen when people are no longer humiliated and threatened in the name of Islam? When religion is merely a matter of the heart?

Never in my life have I been so eager for a day to come. The government has announced that as of tomorrow, women cannot appear in public without a hijab, and those who do will be dealt with brutally. The problem is that they cannot force us anymore. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

The number of hijabless women is increasing by the day. Boys are coming out with shorts now, too. People boycott stores that don’t offer services to unveiled women. The shawls that women used to have around their necks in case they were spotted by security forces are now in the back of wardrobes. Short shirts are replacing long coats. Skirts are replacing pants. Short pants are replacing long ones. There is more and more unity. People have the upper hand. The other side is nothing but bluffs.

A  few teenage girls with long hair hanging over their shoulders were standing [near me,] taking selfies in the mirror, without the hijab. It made me laugh. I rejoiced at their beauty and courage, in their simple and harmless way of exclaiming, “I exist!” The government is not afraid of women’s hair or the length of their skirts. They are afraid of our existence.

Margaret Soltan, June 15, 2023 9:52AM
Posted in: end the erasure of women

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