Iranian men and women have been actively and vocally speaking out against their oppressive regime for the last few days. The women, in particular, have provided a sight to behold: Many are removing their hijabs, protesting the Iranian dress code, and literally shouting against Khamenei in the streets.
Still, the overwhelming progressive response to these courageous women has been strange, if not telling. Hardly any self-proclaimed feminists have cheered on the Iranian women who are so boldly speaking out against a dictatorship that would rather see them dead than sans hijab.
Conservatives and liberals alike are well aware the Iranian protest is about the Iranian people themselves, breaking free from the shackles of an oppressive regime that has left them economically destitute. But as our country touts a democratic republic and a Bill of Rights like none other, why shouldn’t we demonstrate a vested interest in another country’s search for freedom? We too felt the same yearning more than 200 years ago, we too understand mistreatment and the yoke of a King who hungers for power over others.
It’s asinine to insist that because Iran is half a world away we should not care nor comment. If anything, it’s an insight into one of the foundations of liberal thought that’s hardly discussed because it’s so contradictory to America’s staunch stand for freedom: Most liberals believe that government knows best and freedom should have limits. Iranians disagree and we should applaud, encourage, and support their quest for freedom.
More interesting and astounding has been the deafening silence of American so-called feminists. Last year at this time, hundreds of thousands of women — some say half a million — banded together to march on Washington, D.C., and rallied about women’s issues. After all the fanfare they primarily ranted about three things: They vocalized their disdain for the Trump administration, worried they would lose free birth control, and worried the GOP would defund Planned Parenthood.
Even then it was odd, with all the inequality in the world — from Iran and Saudi Arabia to Pakistan and Syria — not one vocal proponent of women’s rights said a word about the women suffering there in unconscionable conditions.
In Afghanistan, women are still stoned to death for adultery. Mainstream publications report ISIS has been raping and slaughtering Yazdi women undeterred. Syria and Iraq remain ground zero for assault on women and girls, per Zainab Bangura, the U.N.'s special representative on sexual violence in conflict. She recounted, in an interview with Middle East Eye, the havoc ISIS wreaked and the “host of horror stories from victims and their families” saying “The brutalization of women and girls is central to their ideology."
Here we are again, watching women bravely strip themselves of a garment that means to oppress and silence. And American women, who enjoy a generous dose of gender parity, say nothing — not even an "atta girl." While Ashley Judd has been touting Hollywood’s new legal defense fund, Time’s Up, which will aid in halting sexual harassment in the workplace, why not offer an olive branch or a shout-out to women being jailed for standing up to an oppressive dictator.
It’s almost as if they know the cause for gender equality in America is frankly less-than, that women here enjoy legal and societal rights, and they’d rather turn their heads and pretend other women aren’t literally fighting for their freedom. Shame on feminist advocates who whine about a tampon tax in the United States, while remaining silent as a fellow woman in Iran fights for her right to speak at all.
Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator's Young Journalist Award.
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