“Nuclear power is our inalienable right,” the staff of my favorite supermarket greets me as I walk into the bustling store. “It’s all your fault that the police are outside picking up women.” They are joking of course. They like to make fun of me when I come into the store.
Some people I know have yet to see the packs of police ushering women into awaiting minibuses, but my regular stomping grounds are in the heart of bad-hejabland. “At least the police are polite here,” a taxi driver tells me. They have to be polite. They are being watched by neighbors with cameras and internet connections. “You should see them over at some of the other spots. They are really going after women with force and being rough.”
A few nights ago Iranian tv featured some official denying that women had been picked up by force. “We’re just talking to them. We have not begun arresting anyone.”
“It’s nothing,” everyone says to me. “They do this every year.”
“I’ve been here more than three years, and I have never seen the police so organized about picking up women before. I’ve never seen them flag down cars before.”
“You’re right,” people admit.
Say whatever you would like: that we are wrong to take this issue so seriously, that most Iranians support the crackdown on hejab, that this will pass… I will tell you this: enforcing hejab makes me feel insecure and mistrustful. I am nervous walking down the street. I do not trust anyone. Why should I? I am wearing this scarf and manteau by force. Therefore, there can be no trust. If I had come to the decision to wear hejab on my own, and wore it because of choice, faith, or even subtle social pressure, that would be different. But I wear hejab because of force and that force has been even more visible the past week. Force will never allow me to make a religious choice of my own free will. It's a ridiculous notion.
The crackdown is a very visible symbol of oppression. So, some men are being picked up (or spoken with) for wearing ties or too much hair gel. That hardly compares to the insecurity of being a woman.
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