[Marxism] The Iranian Left and the "Woman Question" (Of Sandinistas, Apples and Oranges)

Yoshie Furuhashi critical.montages at gmail.com
Sat Jul 22 09:38:48 MDT 2006

On 7/22/06, dwalters at marxists.org <dwalters at marxists.org> wrote:
> There was a large, middle-class oriented Feminist movement in Iran during and
> immediatly after the Revolution there. It was politically and militarily
> crushed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.

Iranian leftists failed to support the middle-strata feminist movement
effectively when it mattered, especially concerning the crucial March
1979 demonstration against mandatory hijab.  The best article on the
matter is Hammed Shahidian, "The Iranian Left and the 'Woman Question'
in the Revolution of 1978-1979" (International Journal of Middle East
Studies, 26.2, May 1994: 223-247).

> Women *in general* started
> particpating at evey level of society hitherto excluded from either consiously
> by society or objectively because of the stangation of Somacista rule.

The Iranian Revolution, too, led many religious women, largely of
lower classes than feminists, to participate in political activity,
for the first time in their lives.

> The Islamic political movement in Iran, which had to hijack the revolution that
> it did not initially lead, had no such program or inclination to allow for
> either the disucssion in general about womens rights and/or reproductive
> freedom or specially support insitutions that would allow for at least the
> democratic disucssion of the issues.

Did Muslims "hijack" a revolution started by socialists?  That is a
spin preferred by Iranian leftists in exile, but weren't secular
socialists, far smaller in number than observant Muslims, actually
supporters rather than leaders of the revolution from the beginning
(Iran, after all, has a long tradition of popular resistance to
imperialism based on religion, e.g. the Tobacco Revolt of 1891-92).
The Tudeh Party even took an oath of allegiance to Khomeini,
unabashedly declaring that "never before in the history of Iran have
we seen a person who has valued women in as fitting a way as Imam
Khomeini" (qtd. Shahidian, p. 226).  That support generally went only
one way -- from socialists to Islamists, but not vice versa -- tells
you volumes about the relative balance of forces.

More information about the Marxism mailing list