Opinion * FAQ * Write for The Iranian
* Editorial policy

Reduced to genitals
Feminism's root problem

By Moji Agha
August 8, 2001
The Iranian

This is a brief response to the article by Shokooh Mirzadegi in the Iranian, entitled "Feminism va doshmanaane khodiash!" (Feminism and its enemies within). Please notice the word "khodi" or US in the title of the article, as it is worth a thousand words.

To my HUMAN ham-koreh (co-inhabitant of Earth), Ms. Mirzadegi:

In my opinion,your article did not touch on the root problem of feminism. So long as feminism (especially its "colonial" kind) behaves as an ideology, it will do what all ideologies have done: not seeing reality.

I will just mention one example from what you have written, where it seems you are not adequately aware of the incredible psychological and social pressures men experience when they TRY to somehow by-pass the virginity issue, especially in traditional "backward" (your word) societies.

The boys whom you apparently think are not under traditional pressures are actually victims themselves, just as much as girls. Why do you think "khaar kosseh" or "maadar jendeh" (excuse my language) are among the worst curse words in Persian and other "backward" languages? Their purpose is to FORCE men to behave.

So long as you cannot see, minimize, or rationalize the oppressive existence of these REAL structural pressures on men, due to the ideological foundation of feminism, you will forever be surprised by the cruel face of reality, namely the "anti-women backlash."

No human being is capable of changing overnight, assuming that such change is REALLY desirable. The politically-correct, socially-engineered men who somehow manage to "behave" in ways feminism dictates, are only repressing their historically-encoded tendencies. Even if they die, their sons or grandsons will not be able to maintain this imposed serenity and will become abusive sooner or later. Abuse begets abuse. Feminism should have learned this historical lesson, but it cannot, because it is an ideology.

So long as you cannot see, minimize, or rationalize the oppressive existence of these REAL structural pressures, due to the ideological foundation of feminism, you will forever be surprised by the cruel face of reality -- the "backlash".

When you look deeply, you will see there is no structural difference between (for example) the ideology of feminism and that of the Taliban. All that is different is the external form, the genitals, and the players' clothes. The underlying dynamics are the same.

To the extent that feminism is not aware (because of being an ideology) that it has been fooled into adopting the foundational essence of all ideologies, including the one that it intends to oppose and modify, it is oppressing women far more dangerously than any male sexist could ever dream of (slaves with the whip syndrome).

For another example, look at the harm right-wing Islamic ideologues have done to Islam throughout the world (especially to its vulnerable spiritual essence). No enemy of Islam could have ever dreamed of the damage Islamic conservatives have done to Islam.

I know that your article is critical of some details of some methods your Feminist Sisters have adopted. Thank God, at least for that. But, when will the members of your Feminist Sisterhood will wake up to the tragically sad fact that they share the word "sister" (structurally identical in meaning) with their ideological "brothers" in the Taliban?

A structural element of feminism is that women should be treated as human beings, AHEAD of their gender. When is the Feminist Sisterhood going to do treat men as humans ahead of their physical characteristics?

As a human being with a Y next to the X in my chromosomal structures, I, for one, am TIRED of being reduced to my genitals by your sisters (who ironically complain of the same oppression on the other side), as if I (as a typical human, who happens to also be a man) have not evolved at all, beyond my sexually determined characteristics, and into an evolving human being.

I hold that we humans go through three stages in our potential individual development and personal evolution:

1- The stage of animality, during which we behave as males or females.

2- The stage of humanity, during which we experience what it is to be men or women.

3- The stage of transcendence, in which SOME of us may evolve beyond such distinctions.

Please note that these stages are not necessarily ordered chronologically, and at any point in time we carry the potential for the manifestation of all of these characteristics.

For example, we desire and experience LOVE in each of these stages. In the first stage, our love is more or less biologically based (nature). In the second stage our human love is gendered, AND is affected ALSO by psychological, social, and cultural influences. Our love in the third stage knows no gender distinctions. The love of country (vatan), for example, is not different if we are a woman or a man. Similarly, the love of justice (daad or edaalat) is not gendered either. Also, Rumi's love for the "Beloved," belongs to this category or stage.

The reality that your ideology ignores is that in trying to right a historical wrong, feminism pretends that problems associated with the HUMAN condition are gendered in their essence. When are your sisters going to truly hear this message?


Moji Agha is a visiting scholar at the Center For Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He recently founded a non-profit center for inter-cultural and interfaith dialogue. He has been a teacher of cultural studies, conflict resolution, and cross-cultural psychology.

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment for the writer Moji Agha


Feminism va doshmanaane khodiash!
Feminism and its enemies within
By Shokooh Mirzadegi

"Step-father" from hell
By Tannaz Ebadollahi

By Shokooh Mirzadegi

Salam Makhroobeh
By Sheema Kalbasi

Voices in the dark
Photo essay
By Hassan Zerehi and Nasrin Almasi

Born free
Photo essay
By Nader Davoodi and Ulla Kimmig


Features archive

* Recent

* Cover stories

* Feature writers

* Arts & literature

* Opinion

* Satire

* History

* Interviews

* Travel

* Women

* Rights

* Surveys

* All sections

Flower delivery in Iran
Copyright © All Rights Reserved. Legal Terms for more information contact:
Web design by BTC Consultants
Internet server Global Publishing Group