March 21, 2000
Why wear the hejab?
Reading your feature on "Why
women don't learn Karate" brought back my experience with similar
questions as my daughter was growing up. I guess it also provoked ideas
and thoughts about how an answer to a simple question of our children can
influence them and us. It is quite a common sense fact.
Nastaran is 13 now and her questioning of the world and its politics
has changed. Also she was born in Iran and lived there for nine years which
will make it all different from other Iranian children born outside of
When she was very young and was living in Iran it was a question of
wanting to wear the hejab as a sign of being an adult. She could not understand
why we are wearing the dress code outside the home but she did not have
to wear it. Her plays at home at times required wearing a scarf and a manteaux.
Later on looking at old pictures or movies came the questions about why
women wear the scarf in Iran and how is this different from the past and
I guess my answer to her and my non-Iranian friends has always been
along this line that it is the law in Iran. You might not like it or agree
with it but it is the law. You always have the choice of breaking it, but
then you have to also consider the consequences.
In a completely different context I have given the same answer. In 1983
as I was going through one of those so-called ideological interviews in
Tehran in order to be able to continue my work, I was asked the same question
by one of the two interviewers. Do I wear the dress code because I really
believe in it or do I pretend? With the connotation of being dishonest.
My answer was basically the same: it is the law to wear it and I am following
With all respect to my good friend Yasaman J, reading and enjoying her
previous conversations with her son in The Iranian , I think the
two different kinds of answers require different possible reactions. For
one it is up to the young to make up their mind and look into options for
changing it? The reality of majority versus minority, how to go about in
order to make changes and conduct a dialogue and discussion instead of
... are other issues. Well, I know that I am influenced by what is happening
in Iran these days