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Contested Meaning of the Veil and Political Ideologies of Iranian Regimes

Ashraf Zahedi
Journal of Middle East Women's Studies
Vol. 3, No. 3 (Fall 2007), pp. 75-98
Published by: Duke University Press
DOI: 10.2979/mew.2007.3.3.75
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/mew.2007.3.3.75
Page Count: 24
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Contested Meaning of the Veil and Political Ideologies of Iranian Regimes
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Abstract

ABSTRACT This article examines the history of the veil and its changing social meanings in Iran. Embedded in the meaning of the veil is the erotic meaning of female hair. The symbiotic relations of the “cover” (the veil) and the “covered” (female hair) are central to this history. Iranian political regimes have assigned to the veil meanings corresponding to their own ideologies. Through imposed unveiling and re-veiling, these regimes have constructed an ideal image of Iranian women and in turn of Iran as a modern or an Islamic country. This essentialized singular image has led to the empowerment of some women while marginalizing others and violating their rights. Re-veiling has served as an impetus for the politicization of Iranian women, and they continue to contest the social meaning of the veil and protest its imposition.

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