In the middle of an excellent links post, Natasha at Pacific Views wrote a response to one of my posts. Her response is short enough to quote in full:
Ampersand […] complains that even if Hugo Chavez isn’t anti-Semitic, he embraces woman-hating Iran.
In response to that last, I’ll point again to this article about college enrollment and professional careers for Iranian women, which says that “since the 1979 Revolution: Iran’s Islamic government has managed to convince even traditional rural families that it is safe to send their daughters away from home to study.” I will paraphrase Amp’s commentary of the other day to say that the freedoms to walk outside your house without a scarf on, to have your testimony in court valued equal to a man’s and work without having to secure permission are important, but not the only measures of freedom. While their legal structure reflects a backlash against a rapid and forced modernization that forbade the wearing of religious garb in public, leaving many hardline Muslim women feeling confined to their homes, the movement of their society and real achievements of many women there point to the possibility of reform and a systemic lack of will to revert to a Saudi-style society where women are virtual non-persons. Iran’s laws are years behind their public sentiment, something I can’t say regarding my own country and the Bill of Rights, about African countries where many women get the choice by dint of social norms and economic oppression of being either wives or prostitutes, of Asian countries where the birth of a daughter is typically considered a sad day for a family, of the many countries where girls are routinely sold as child prostitutes to provide for their brothers. There are worse things in the world than having to wear a scarf, even if it’s not something I would choose to do.
Natasha is someone whose views I respect a lot; until I have time to do more research, consider me “on the fence” on this question.