Men in Iran have taken to wearing the Hijab- or traditional veil in Iran to show alliance with their wives and protest Sharia, or religious law in Iran, according to the Independent. This is part of a growing un-veilment movement in Iran where women are challenging government law by posting photos of their beautiful and yes, dangerous hair. Men have now bravely joined the movement to show empathy and solidarity with the women in their lives.
In Iran, women are required to wear a head covering or a veil beginning at age nine. Yet, it is not just women’s hair that is politicized but also women’s voices. It is also illegal for a woman to sing. The aspects of women that are deemed erotic; bodies, hair, and even vocal expressions are viewed as dangerous and thus, become politicized.
Yet, what about the veil holds so much power? Head covering has always fascinated me ever since my time living in Morocco’s capital city, Rabat. My interest sparked one night over dinner with a friend. Through mouthfuls of couscous and tagine, I noticed for the first time that my friend was wearing the traditional Hijab but her sister was not. Catching my stare, my friend responded, “It is our choice to cover or not.”
My friend explained that she enjoys wearing the veil. She feels that it is a positive expression of her religion and also feels that the veil can be feminine and stylish. She dressed me in a blue scarf ‘to match my eyes’ and I was astounded by the effect. I felt beautiful under the veil. We took off into the windy streets of the capital’s old city together. Covered and giggling.
However, the situation in Morocco differs from Iran in one very important aspect: choice. Women in Morocco have the choice while women in Iran do not. It is this lack of choice that makes the veil oppressive and turns it from a positive symbol of religion and femininity to a negative, oppressive image.
This lack of choice led Ms. Alinejad to run the My Stealthy Freedom campaign. It shares pictures of women from Iran, who are bravely showcasing their hair in public settings. The movement of letting the Hijab go is a moment of freedom for women. She asked men to support her campaign with the #meninhijab hashtag through posting pictures with their heads covered while women’s hair remained exposed.
For the participants the risk is real. They face punishment, even imprisonment if caught. But these pictures are a powerful step of progress in Iran in making the veil a woman’s choice.
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