By Azadeh Davachi, Feminist School
The concerns of Women issues and their rights have been proposed since nineteenth century. Since then the women movements either in literature or other fields such as social and political concerns changed dramatically in terms of those rules and norms of patriarchal societies that were dominating over the social concerns and as a result those rules gave their place to equality and demanding for equal rights. These transformations and changes seem apparent and undeniable in western societies. Feminist movements which had found its origin in Europe and American societies could impact drastically on the way of people's living and the patriarchal rules dominating over these societies . It also could influence on the emergence of feminine ingredients and depicting those feminine symbols in literature. Western and American feminists shaped their own modern social and political patterns of womanhood on the basis of existing patterns and beliefs of their societies; therefore they could introduce feminism to various fields of social, political and literal with clean-cut rudiments and directions.
Although the first and second wave of feminism just referred to the equality of women and men's rights in western and American societies; but since then this movement could open its path among the other nations and counties such as third world counties. Third world feminists which are one of the branches of feminist movements have criticized western and American feminists; therefore they represent their own theory in accordance with cultural and ethical identity of their own countries. In addition these branches of feminists consider those specific traditions and ethics of their own societies.
Iran which is considered as one of the third world countries also was influenced by this movement. Women in Iran especially after and since the revolution could gain the improved status in social and political grounds; however this improvement faced with lots of obstacles and great difficulties. The crux of women's activity achieved from the influences of Feminist movement on women and also the raising of immigration to outside of the boarders , and living in totally different society without any experiences of patriarchy and cultural restrictions. Although Iranian women could gain accomplishments s and achievements; feminism is still could not obtain its right place that is supposed to have. In most cases women's plantings and debates failed ; thereby women experienced some kind of repulsion. But the question is here, what are the main barriers for the women's movements and achievements? Below I explained some kinds of the main barriers in which dispelling and identifying these barriers can improve feminist movements; as a result can boost women's social and political planning and corporations. However, some social movements such as one million campaign signature and other liberal activities somehow could affect the political and social reforms and alleviate the effects of these barriers.
1-Trdadtion and religion:
So far, religion acts as the main barrier for feminist movements in Iran. Religion and tradition, side by side, limit the women to strict social and cultural behaviors; hence impede their improvements in certain social activities. As we see in some small cities and villages that are more traditional comparing to large cities, feminist movements faced with much more serious predicaments; on the other hand people's traditional views and behaviors toward women act as the main barrier for feminist movements. In traditional view, a good woman is a one who stays in her house, also she should be a fit mother and wife; moreover, she should attain her husband and children's satisfaction. Any escaping from this view is considered as the breaking of traditional rules; therefore it will be in contrast with any society common norms. For example, people would not accept any woman whom, for any reason discards the imposed traditional rules, she would not be considered as an acceptable and ideal one and she will receive a sharp reprimand. In traditional view, there is no right for women to protest against their situation and a woman does not have any right to disobey the imposed traditional rules. Any woman who can adjust herself to these traditional views will be considered as an ideal woman. Until this traditional views dominate over the society's condition and people's points of views as an ideal pattern, the feminist movements will experience failure. However; up to now some of these views are going to be diminished but still the collective minds are founded on these traditional beliefs.
This question may be raised here ; changing these traditional views and adopting them with the ideal patterns that are considered as social taboos may not be achievable easily but the society's traditional views can be changed gradually and impel it to modern beliefs by shifting these patterns . In religion also this view is existed. In Religion men have right to have at least four wives and this right imbue the men some sense of appropriation and superiority. These religious views beside the traditional views that manifest themselves as some sort of authorized patterns cause the feminist movement in Iran to be as the ideal for the mobs and be at the surface of social terms . What is the solution? We cannot be in opposing with tradition nor can we be in contrast with religion. The only way is to break the imposed social patterns and then move in the way that does not make a space between social beliefs and ideal patterns and the majority of people can accept these beliefs which are not in contradiction with their religious and traditional views. Possibly one of these solutions is the financial and personal independency in the social norms and among different kinds of individuals.
The second factor is women themselves. Many women even do not dare to utter feminism. Believing in equality and similarity is difficult for them. Because they used to be unequal and they believe in this inequality unconsciously. They are afraid of being in the same level of social status like their husbands and any of other men of their society and this fear hinder them to be active in the various fields of social and political issues. There are a number of women who even do not believe in feminism and they consider this movement as some kinds of assuming or acquisitive activities. This kind of false thought which is imbued by the functions of the society cause women to be as the main barrier for this movement. They have been living with this idea that they are after men. They are growing up with all of these sexism beliefs which are existed in Iranian patriarchal society. Even If Iranian women do not accept their cultural norms consciously and they are determined to reject all those norms and beliefs but they will feel guilty unconsciously. Most women are reliance, both psychologically and financially, to their husbands; so it is very difficult for them to admit feminist ideas and movements. The fear that they feel prevents them from demanding their equal rights; as a result they will criticize whoever who is supporter of this movement. The best way is that women accept this fact that all of those beliefs that are imbued by culture and religion belongs to the pervious era and having equal rights is the right of every individual and they should not see feminist movement as an anti men movement but they have to consider it as a movement in upgrading their cultural and social ideas and beliefs.
Young Iranian women
photo by Mahtab Farid (Field Trip to the holy city of Qum)
3- Dogmatism and prejudice:
The third factor is dogmatism and prejudice. Dogmatism is one of the norms of patriarchal societies. In patriarchal society men has a feeling of superiority and domination over their women. In patriarchal society ,the society, religion and tradition inspire some feelings of possession to men ;thus this kind of feeling causes some sort of dogmatism in the society. Many of disasters which are caused in society are as the result of dogmatism and prejudice. Dogmatism prevents women to reach their ideals in their partnership life or as individuals in their society. The inspiration of dogmatism can be done by the family or any individual's relatives. In this dogmatic society, if any woman exceeded the theorized and traditional norms, then she will be considered as a guilty person and she will be ignored by her society . This kind of reactions is explicit in practical society. Thus if any woman wants to accomplish her own ideas she will be faced with her father, brother or husband's strict reactions. Dogmatism and prejudice acts as the main barrier of feminism movement and until it exists as a norm in society framework and social organization the feminist movement cannot reach their ideals. The only solution to alleviate the extend of dogmatism in patriarchal society is to increase and upgrade general knowledge and wisdom of each people in the society and to promote some kind of patterns which clears the traces of dogmatism and prejudice in Iranian society gradually .
Iranian school girls
photo by Syma Sayyah (Happy International Women's Day - 8th March 2009)
4- Society rules
The next factor is society and its theorized rules. In the patriarchal society like Iran all the juridical rules are against women. Although we have experienced some kinds of improvements in this field but having activity in legal form in women's movements and fields does not have any stable and recognized rule. On the other hand some rules such as marriage, divorce, and other common traditions are against women's activities and prudence; these rules rather are in favor of dogmatism and prejudice's criteria . The juridical rules are alliance with tradition and religion and are theorized in a way that are likely to see women in the lowest status of social privileges . On the other hand media shows such as TV and radio have major roles in representing and imposing these patterns and beliefs and they face feminist movements with severe problems. the patterns that are imposed by mass media and even newspapers advertisement and other media can be considered as the recognized example of social activities against feminist movement in Iran and in large scale they represent equality and women's right in reverse manner and in this case they simply justify the common rules. The only way to prevent promulgating these advertisements is to enlighten women's society by public informing or even raising the extend of women's knowledge through internet and books.
It seems that the lack of explicit feminist movement has a direct relationship with mentioned factors. Each of these factors separately or together impact on women and their society, men and their society and also recognized society's norms and beliefs. Nevertheless and with all these factors in the recent decades, women's movement begins a new phase and it really needs theories in the same level and in accordance with new constituted women's society's culture. Representing these images and these new patterns beside other western feminist movements can be done through literature, cinema and even educational workshops. If one of these factors fades or disappears gradually then the feminist movements can reveal themselves in different layers of social activities more visibly. although this movement has intangible but significant impact on social , political and literal women activities and it's going to proceed women's movement into a new phase by alleviating and decreasing all the mentioned barriers in all fields of women's activities.
... Payvand News - 03/08/10 ... --