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June 8, 2001

One voice among many

I have been following the "Nooneh" controversy for some time. I must admit that I myself was a bit surprised when I read her first story. Yet now, I admire her. Yes, as another Iranian woman, I admire the author's boldness and courage to write such articles!

I have read the letters of the many critics who degrade and disrespect her work, all because she writes about SEX. Unfortunately, Iranian women have always been sexually oppressed. Since we were young, we have been taught that in order to become ladies, we must remain "pure" and "clean". We were to cover our eyes, ears, and mouth. See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. Did our mothers talk to us about sex?

It has been engrained into us to be untouched until we get married. Then, our husbands would take the role of our one and only teacher. Unfortunately, there were no Humane Sexuality 101 classes offered in Iran. So were Iranian women truly educated about sex? Did they ever learn? Women in Iran today have to hide their femininity. They are forced to cover their hair and body, as if silenced from being women. They cannot indulge in their god-given sexuality. Instead they are taught to feel ashamed of it.

One lady, by the name of Nazy, author of "Ahh Ahh", asked Nooneh if she had no shame. "dokhtare iraani hasti, in harfaa chie mizani.". Does that mean Iranian "girls" (women) are not to speak about sex? Must they cower in embarrassment, so that "abrooshoon nareh"?

Still I was very surprised at another person by the name of Nariman, author of "Jendeh with an Agenda". How does one "open-minded" Iranian dub another a "jendeh"? Regardless of this lady's feelings towards the writer, there should be enough respect as not to degrade another person simply because of her writing.

I am not Nooneh's PR person, but for all the harsh words that have been sent her way, she is strong enough to continue her writing. Perhaps that is the best response to all her critics. Looking at Iran today, nothing has changed. While surfing, I came across this emotional photo. A woman leaving the judiciary compound in Tehran after receiving 70 lashes because of wearing an "indecent" dress at a New Year's party.

Even worse, while reading the Wall Street Journal, I found an articl about an Iranian woman stoned to death (May 22, 2001). I learned that this woman was convicted of acting in pornographic films and had been held in the prison for the last eight years. Despite her cries of innocence, she was buried in the ground and stoned.

These are just a couple of examples amongst many. Iranian women have suffered tremendously because of their gender. Did that woman deserve to be lashed 70 times, for wearing a dress in a private New Year's party? Did the other woman deserve to die, even if she was actually a porno actress? If sex was her profession, would that justify stoning her to death?

Why are Iranian women punished so severely for expressing their sexuality? I applaud Nooneh, for she is not scared to be heard. She is free to write her feelings, thoughts, ideas, fantasies, experiences, or imaginations. She is one voice amongst the many Real Iranian Women.


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