Academic journal article Women's Studies Quarterly

A Planet of Women

Academic journal article Women's Studies Quarterly

A Planet of Women

Article excerpt

The feminist movement in Iran has branches in every home.

-Shirin Ebadi, talk sponsored by the Global Fund for Women, June 1, 2005

When men go to war,

women stitch the hours, invent

stories to steady their hands,

When the men don't return,

the women pick up the dropped stitches.

The metaphor unwinds ;

from its loosely looping skein.

I introduce my class

to women's struggles

in Muslim countries.

A slight, spiked-hair student says,

those women wear those things,

she gestures to her hair and face,

too disgusted to articulate

hejab, burqua.

How can they be feminist?

Oh, to yank the veil covering

her sassy eyes!

My teacher voice says:

veil aside, what is the Iranian woman thinking

as she receives news of her husband's death

on the battlefield,

how does she get her child to smile

what does she, who does she,

when, why, which, how

what are her politics

Images of behind-and-beyond-the-veil

women challenge my student's scorn

for Muslim women's concepts of love,

marriage, family.

I do not ask her:

do you protest, celebrate, advocate, burn? …

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