Apr 22, 2006

Images from Iran...

Tribal Qashqai' Wedding

Young Irani voters shock passerby with their "unIslamic"
gear and the name of candidate wrapped around their hips

Women's Basketball Team

Waiting while mama votes

Irani B-Boy Breakdancing for a mixed crowd
of girls and guys (fyi - mixed crowds not allowed by law)

Qashqai' women weaving a tribal rug


Blogger skyscraper said...

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11:20 PM  
Blogger skyscraper said...

wow, Pomegranate,
this is... mmmmmmm..... some really heavy stuff. i found the basketball team image the most disturbing and revealing. i read the bbc article on the 'unislamic' appearances and behaviors. you know, i feel overwhelmed and just weird; i don't know what to say... i'm kinda shocked and numb. it's not that dress codes and ostere social restrictions in religious, misogynist societies are a novelty to me, of course, but i mean it's one thing to know it's there, and quite another to be presented with very honest, real-life images of it. just like that, in your face!

it made me think how different the oppressions and struggles of us women are, in different parts of the world. and how we don't learn about the realities of each other, because we're so caught up with our own struggles and rights.

even though i grew up in a muslim (nominally, not in a strict clerical sense) family (though they've always been rather spiritual than religious) and the population's formal majority religion was islam, it was a very secular setting. that is not to undermine the plight of family or community oppression of central asian women facilitated by religion, tradition and powerlessness in the manipulative hands of misonynists, but we were not forced to cover our faces and bodies, or 'formally' persecuted for wearing 'western' clothes. of course, it all was there, but three generations before i was born. so i can't even begin to imagine the level of misogyny and sexism in a society where you can't even pick what to wear... damn, i think a lot of times we take for granted and don't acknowledge what we have - i'm NOT of course suggesting that we be greatful to 'our' [male-controlled] society for 'allowing' us the freedom and emancipation that we already have and that we not pursue further equality and women's rights. but i'm just realizing (with grief) how disconnected and on different levels our 'women's struggles' are.

as women and feminists in the west, we're fighting for equal wages and rights to be acknowledged in same-sex relationships, while in some other parts of the world women still can't vote, let alone having sexual or social freedom.

i'm very curious about how you feel about this. i hope we can sometimes discuss this topic - i don't know how much of your life you spent under the islamic regime in iran, if any. i know you are muslim and i have many, many questions to discuss with you with regards to islamic codes vs. social freedoms, egalitarianism and human rights.

i find it hard for me personally to make any decisions about this - i'm internally conflicted and torn between my family tradition and my own views. being a lesbian especially. my uncle is a conservative (almost militant) muslim and he stopped talking to me when i came out. he became increasingly hostile to me (and even our entire family) in the recent years, castigating all of our women for showing our skin and talking back to men, while men - for being infidels by way of astranging from the path of islam and not gong to the mosque, not taking namaz, etc. once i've tried to confront him and tell him that he has no right to shut me up and to tell me what to do JUST because he's a man and i'm a women, and told him that if god tells me to give up my free will and to conform to men, then i don't believe in and am not afraid of such a god, -- he got really aggravated, swung his arm over my head and almost hit me - my grandma stopped him, told us to shush and took me to another room. i'm sure if i were still at home now, we would be the worst enemies - it's really scary how fanatical he's becoming with this lately. it's hard for me to talk or think about this whole issue, because i still love him; he's still my very dear uncle, however, we are in such disconnected mental and intellectual spaces right now, that i see no possibilities for reconciliation or peace.

i can see a lot of good and a lot of bad perpetuated by religions. any religion, period. especially when people [men] corrupt and twist them around to enslave women and reach their selfish political goals. i'm out!

11:43 PM  
Blogger nubian said...

i love the photo of the basketball players and of the breakdancers.

1:00 AM  
Blogger Pomegranate Queen said...

I feel having the conversation about Islam, misogyny/patriarchy and women is something I can have openly and honestly with other women of color (particularly, muslim women)...the same convo with white women adds a whole other complicated layer and I feel I either have to "defend" Islam (and my cultural background) and/or spend most of the time interrupting their colonizing/racist discourse...

as for image of women playing basketball...i love this image. and believe me, if anyone knows what it's like to be "forced" into wearing hejaab it would be me since I did live in Iran. But the picture is a symbol of resilience...it's like fuck that, i'm still playing ball!
women do all sorts of activities like kayaking and horsebackriding and wearing hejaab doesn't hold them back.

Having said that though, it's important that these women have a choice in the matter and not forced. this is where it becomes a discussion of patriarchy/misogyny, control of women's bodies/sexuality, and disciplining of our bodies, cultural norms, interpretations of Islamic law, etc.

The picture of the voters in their "unIslamic" attire is also a symbol of resilience because these women are challenging the control and disciplining of their bodies through what they wear. and believe me, they face the consequences which at times are quite severe.

Look at the Qashqai women though and how they have their own beautiful, colorful dresses and hejaab...I love that they wear the most attractive colors and let the front of their hair show through their head wraps/hejaabs.

So I guess when it comes to "oppression" and "resistance"...the shit's complicated...and it's more complicated (at least to me) than just a matter of wearing of hejaab...I guess different articulations of oppression in different places around the world...but simliar discourses of disciplining of women's bodies, patriarchy/misogyny...

but always always always, there's resistance.

having said that tho - if you've ever been in tehran in a blazing plus 40 degrees celsius heat and walking in the street wearing a chador or hejaab...it's fucking awful. you sit there and curse every man that can walk around feeling the breeze going through their damn short sleeve blouses or t-shirts!!!!

1:38 AM  
Blogger Pomegranate Queen said...

I also love the image of the b-boy breaking in the middle of some public space with young men and women watching...again, moment of resistance.
and look at his technique! he's damn good!

1:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think my favorite images were the voting and the basketball -- I loved how they presented activities that are often treated as if they are from different worlds all in the same composition -- resistance, complicity, imagining and acting on new identities -- that's the real, complicated world of Iranian, and many other women outside the :west:

10:41 PM  
Blogger Pomegranate Queen said...

Anonymous thank you for the comment. So on point.

1:48 AM  
Blogger skyscraper said...

wow, thanks PQ!
i'll write more comprehensively later.
gotta run...

6:43 PM  

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