women’s bodies and national ideology May 4, 2007Posted by sindhub in bodies, Ethics, fashion police, ideology, in the news, iran, islam, modesty, morality, nationalism, new york times, politics, Power, religion, the state.
There’s an interesting article in the New York Times today about the ‘fashion police,’ quite literally, in Iran. Ever since the 1979 Islamic revolution that made Iran an Islamic state, there have been certain policies about how women should dress in public (modestly, in the chador) that are enforced by the police. I think it’s important to note that before the 1979 revolution, Iran was an avowedly secular state, which meant that women actually weren’t allowed to publicly dress in ‘modest’ Islamic clothes. I think this just goes to show that in a state that has a lot of power over its citizens, women’s bodies are one of the tools used to enforce its ideology, no matter how seemingly ‘repressive’ or ‘liberal’ that ideology is.
Here are some of the bits from the article that I found particularly amusing:
- When one woman, Nazanin, 28, was stopped last month in Vanak Square, she thought she had dressed more modestly than usual, she said. But she was told that her coat was tight and showed the shape of her body.“I just joked with them and tried to stay calm, but they told me to sit so that they could see how far my pants would pull up in a sitting position,” said Nazanin, a reporter. She was told by the police officers that they wanted to help her look modest so men would not look at her and cause her inconvenience, she said. [emphasis mine]
- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has backed the campaign, saying, “Those who have indecent appearances are sent by the enemy.” (If this isn’t nationalistic use of women’s bodies, I don’t know what is)