WHY ARE THESE MEN DRESSED LIKE WOMEN?
When photos of Iranian men wearing dresses, skirts and scarves, first surfaced, many thought it was some kind of joke. But the real reason is truly empowering...
On April 15, in the city of Marivan, Iran, a local judge convicted Saman Rasoulpour for domestic violence. His punishment? Saman was sentenced to wearing a red chador (a traditional robe worn by Kurdish brides), and then paraded around town.
Saman’s punishment led to a global outcry, as both men and women retaliated against the implication that a man being feminine is the ‘ultimate
humiliation’. Within hours, feminist groups and activists took to the streets, holding up signs to support ‘womanhood’, while a group of 17 MPs wrote to the Justice Ministry condemning the ruling as “humiliating to Muslim women”. But it was through digital media that this remarkable ‘civil disobedience’ truly picked up steam. Masoud Fathi uploaded a photograph of himself on Facebook in a bright green Kurdish dress, adding a sentence that fast became the slogan for this movement: being a woman is not a tool to humiliate or punish anyone. Within hours, Facebook erupted with photographs of over 150 brave men, all wearing flowy bright, bold prints with signs that screamed equality and respect for women (you can find these photos on the FB page, Kurd Men for Equality). The supporters added little notes to their pictures, sending out a powerful message: women cannot be used as a device for degradation and there is no free society without free women. The page quickly gained 18,000 followers (and counting), and international dailies and media immediately picked up the story (even American actress Rosario Dawson supported the cause, saying “it’s great that there are many incredible men around the world fighting for gender equality”). Then, two months later, there was reason to celebrate. An official statement was released by the Islamic Republic Police Chief: “I apologise to Kurdish women. The culprit officers have been punished”.
Over the years, Iran has repeatedly been accused of oppression towards women, including a large number of honour killings each year. Which is one of the reasons why this predominantly male- led campaign has made headlines all over the world. This retaliation is a rare one, where Kurdish men have taken a stand against their government for what they hope will lead to a positive outcome in the long run. As Masoud said in an interview with the Kurdistan Tribune: “When I wore that dress, I suddenly realised how much evil the chauvinist thinking of men, male- dominated religions, ideologies and systems have caused. I understood that masculine culture has destroyed the world.”
Men across the globe wore
dresses to promote women’s rights in Iran
Here and below, supporters pose in
Masoud Fathi, who launched the campaign, poses in a bright green dress