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Being an Iranian Woman...Being a Woman

I have always thought of myself as a feminist. Feminism to me is simply to actively believe in equality between men and women. When I was a little girl, this concept seemed very natural and easy to me. Sometimes I would go to Mimi’s office in Tehran after school, wait around until it was time to go home and do my homework in the lounge. From that lounge I could always overhear Mimi’s young female clients talking about the way they are being treated badly by their husbands. Sometimes they would cry and their voice would break in their throat while they were talking about a man in their lives. Overhearing these women cry and complain with a low and weak tone would somehow make me sad for them. Though, at the same time I would feel very strong and to me the belief in
equality between men and women used to be a very natural part of my life…as natural as water, as air!

During the month of January that Mimi has come to my university in Ohio to teach a one-month-long
class, the two of us have talked a lot about some important matters. We talk about things that we probably didn’t use to talk about as much. That matter is my sentimental life. We talk about my strength and weaknesses in dealing with my emotional life and with young men whom I have liked a lot or a little. Though no real commitment has ever happened in my life yet, I have experienced ups and downs in my sentimental life just like many other human beings my age. I must admit talking with Mimi about these things is not easy. The truth is that we sometimes get into
arguments and sometimes agree.

Tonight she told me something that really shook me. She said, “Iranian women really do need to claim their rights, Azadeh. Claiming your rights as a woman is not necessarily having interviews with different radios and writing books and articles about feminism”. She said to me, “Azadeh, you are a young woman now and you really do need to claim your rights as a woman in your everyday interactions and in your sentimental life”. She paused and said, “You were not born to let a man make you feel as if you are a victim and doomed to tolerate injustice because of your gender”. She said, “No, Lady Azadeh, No. You need to stand up for your right as a woman. No one else will, Azadeh. You need to speak out. You need to value your femininity and become friends with your gender. You are not allowed to let yourself get hurt”.

She has a point. Looking back at my own teenage life and then a couple of years into my twenties, at times I have oppressed my own feelings and haven’t spoken about them with strength. I say to myself, “Azadeh? Who are you? Are you that little girl overhearing Mimi’s clients talk in her law office for years? Are you really that little girl who used to strongly believe that feminism is as natural as water and as air you breathe? Then, why aren’t you being to the point in your sentimental life? Why aren’t you being stronger? Are you intimidated with the opposite sex? Are you for real? Are you going to let them dominate you for the rest of your life and play around with you and your emotions?”.

I feel that some recent incidents and my mom’s warnings have awakened that little Azadeh in me. These recent incidents and Mimi’s points have awakened that natural feminism that has been planted in me before I was introduced to myself as a woman. That little Azadeh will laugh at me; will tease me if I think of myself as an object for being overpowered by men! No way!

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