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Fri May 3, 2013, 05:00 PM

Hats Off (But Dresses On) to Our Kurdish Feminist Brothers

(I know there was a thread about this, but I thought it worth revisiting)

Men in Western societies have also resorted to wearing women’s clothes in order to challenge gender discrimination. Even the most democratic societies struggle with rape culture, sexism, homophobia and transphobia. Violence against women is a global epidemic. If tabooizing and controlling women’s bodies and behaviors in the name of honor is the sexism of one society, the porn industry, prostitution and unhealthy beauty standards make up the other end of the patriarchal spectrum that devaluates women by reducing them to objects of men’s pleasure or property. Cross-dressing is an effective way of challenging binary notions of gender and raising awareness of issues that human beings who are not male and heterosexual encounter on a daily basis.

However, the case of Kurdish men wearing Kurdish women’s clothes is even more special, because it attacks two forms of oppression at the same time. This “punishment” is not only sexist; it further constitutes an attempt to ridicule Kurdish culture. The Islamic Republic of Iran has executed at least 56 Kurds in the past year. It continues to enforce oppressive annihilation policies towards the Kurdish people and other ethnicities, or against any dissident voice, for that matter. While the misogynist regime forces women to cover in black cloth, traditional Kurdish (and of course traditional Persian) women’s clothes are very colorful and beautifully embroidered pieces of detailed handwork. The meaning of these sequined, extravagant robes on Kurdish men is a double strike against a regime that covers, hides and silences women in plain black, discriminates against different ethnicities and believes that being an oppressive despot defines masculinity and power. After all, chauvinist concepts of gender and abusive power structures are inseparable.

But while the Iranian authorities attempted to shame male prisoners by making them wear traditional Kurdish women’s clothes, Kurdish men formidably responded by standing up against both sorts of oppression. They made two statements in one: Being a woman is NOT a punishment—and our culture is beautiful. Not being a woman, but being sexist is degrading. Not Kurdish clothes, but racism is humiliating.
Dler Kamangar, a talented musician from the beautiful East Kurdish city of Sine, agrees with Masoud that this Facebook action is just one small step in the right direction. Though media and public attention are important, future steps must be more practical, and not just remain in the social media sphere. As he drinks his black tea, he tells me that they are currently planning protest actions in front of Iranian embassies. They will appear in women’s clothes. Dler’s skepticism of the Iranian regime is surpassed by his optimism for the Kurdish people’s struggle:

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Reply Hats Off (But Dresses On) to Our Kurdish Feminist Brothers (Original post)
ismnotwasm May 2013 OP
MADem May 2013 #1
ismnotwasm May 2013 #2
MADem May 2013 #3
ismnotwasm May 2013 #4
MADem May 2013 #5

Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Fri May 3, 2013, 05:14 PM

1. The guy with the headgear has the style down!

There's also a VERY traditional dress style that looks almost like something out of the middle 1800s--tons of petticoats and lots of drama. I would imagine those are quite expensive to purchase or make, though.

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Response to MADem (Reply #1)

Fri May 3, 2013, 05:20 PM

2. They're beautiful though

I wish American culture had more flow and color of fabric, without the drawbacks being of in the way, or discomfort or contributing of awkwardness of movement.

Of course I did read one time that wide skirts were for ease of urination--of the anywhere anytime variety. I don't know if that's true though.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #2)

Fri May 3, 2013, 05:31 PM

3. Not good in the city.

There used to be just ONE escalator that was open to the public in Teheran, in a department store. A kurdish woman lost half her dress in the damn thing and they had to shut it down and tear it apart. She was lucky she wasn't killed!

They put a guy in front of the escalator for awhile, who "educated" people on how to get on it, and what to do when you got to the top. It was a common sight to see people lined up waiting to get on, while one person screwed up their courage to take that first step....and then, at the top, they'd fall on their asses because they didn't know how to get off.

As for peeing, that makes sense and is characteristic of the region. It also used to be a very common thing to see with women in chadors--they'd straddle the jub (which is a semi-open sewer/drainage arrangement; not as bad as it seems because the air is dry and it doesn't rain overmuch, but sometimes when it does they need drainage) and TCB, then move off. Public restrooms were a challenge in some neighborhoods. Middle class people wouldn't do this, but the poor and the country folk didn't hesitate. Out in the country, people did just do their thing by the side of the road. One politely averted one's eyes!

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Response to MADem (Reply #3)

Fri May 3, 2013, 05:39 PM

4. Well, you know those looong drives that some people do

I think just about anyone would pull over and have at it

--That very interesting information, thank you!

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #4)

Fri May 3, 2013, 10:07 PM

5. If you are driving from, say, Teheran to Qom, and you gotta go...

...that's the choice! Unless you want to poop in a caravanserai, should you be near one, which does offer the luxury of a shaded corner, but there's usually so much poop in there (well dried, of course) from people and animals that it's a sketchy situation.

And there's no hose -- and no toilet paper.... and of course, no "bomb site" (as the hole in the floor is sometimes called)...

So "the art of sand" becomes an important thing to learn.

It's a VERY DRY environment, fortunately--stuff dries quickly and can be put right in no time!

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