On Sunday evening, every single bar I passed on New York’s Second Avenue was packed with both women and men, screaming at the top of their lungs and cheering for the USA in their World Cup match against Portugal.
According to CNN, similar scenes were scattered across Iran this past Saturday. Restaurants were packed with fans - both women and men - who were excitedly cheering on their country’s team in the nail-biting match against Argentina.
Yet every single woman there was breaking the law. In 1979, it was deemed illegal for women to attend sporting events. Their presence in public among rabid, excited men was deemed “un-Islamic.” To enforce this ban during the heat of the World Cup, Iranian authorities warned local businesses not to air the sporting event on their televisions. Many ignored the arbitrary ban, giving women a reprieve from the stigma of inequality while watching the match.
Negar Vayali, an Iranian woman cheering alongside many others in a local cafe, told CNN, "100 percent it's better this way. It doesn't happen often. It would be great if we have more of this…We have rights too. We should be able to go to games.”Apart from banning the World Cup from public viewing, Iran still imposes more measures to keep women out of their sporting world. For example, they removed all women from World Cup billboards. They also keep World Cup broadcasting on delay so that any "provocative" footage of female fans is quickly removed.
Yet the women of Iran refuse to be silent on the matter. Women have gone to volleyball matches in disguise. There have been protests. Now, women are illegally watching the World Cup giving absolutely 0 craps about the sexist ban.
Nice work, ladies. Let’s hope this is just the beginning of some much needed upending of outdated laws.
All images via CNN