Iran's Michelle Obama

What Women Really Think
June 12 2009 1:33 PM

Iran's Michelle Obama

Iranian voters go to the polls today in an election being discussed in apocalyptic terms , as Iran’s next great awakening. Much of the popular excitement centers around Zahra Rahnavard, wife of reformist candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi, also known as Iran’s Michelle Obama. The 1979 revolution has brought conflicting results for women. It’s created sexual hypocrisy and fear of liberated women, as Janet Afary describes in her new book Sexual Politics in Modern Iran . But it’s also raised the average age of marriage and opened up opportunities for women. Rahnavard represents a slow awakening of the latter strain. In her dramatic unveiling, she recently went onstage holding her husband’s hand-the first time any woman has done that since the revolution. In college, she studied art and wore a miniskirt, but reluctantly. She " abhorred" sexual freedoms flaunted by her fellow students, writes Afary . After the revolution, she started a feminist magazine but always wore a chador. In her writings and speeches she popularized the term "second sex" and fought for laws against sexual abuse of women by relatives. If her husband wins, she may end up the most visible advocate for women the Muslim world has ever had.

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.