The real-life Handmaid’s Tale

Foto: George Kraychyk/Hulu

Something I wish was common knowledge: the fact that Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t science fiction. As she herself puts it:

”Nothing was included in the book that hasn’t happened in the real world sometime, somewhere.”

One of her main sources of inspirations: Iran.

Many people experience a mindfuck when they see photos from Iran in the 1970s. How can historical pictures look like they’re from the future? Photos depicting female students without hijab, eyes shining with optimism. Women in bikinis playing guitar at the beach.

University students in Tehran, 1971. Källa: Rare Historical Photos

University students in Tehran, 1970s. Källa: Rare Historical Photos

Women sunbathing by the Caspian sea, 1978. Photo: Andrew Waterhouse

So what happened to all of that? The Islamic revolution of 1979 happened. Where socialists, liberals and Islamists — including women from all social classes — joined forces and ousted the Shah (king) Reza Pahlavi. After which Ayatollah Khomeini used the resulting power vacuum to found a totalitarian theocracy, impose Sharia law and strip women of their rights, one by one.

In an Instagram post, @saharsorati asks herself why so many Swedes remain silent about what’s happening in Iran.

”Are you afraid of appearing like Islamophobes?”

If that’s the case, the regime’s propaganda was successful. Because one of their tactics has actually been to woke shame westerners into looking away.

In an interview with Aftonbladet, Iran’s ambassador to Sweden says:

”Unfortunately, it has become all too common to rely on stereotypes in the Western world. […] The revolution demonstrated that there are other ways to oppose the patriarchy than to accept an imposed Western identity.”

What this statement obscures:

1. The fact that women have been protesting the regime’s oppression since day one. As early as March 1979, 100,000 women took to the streets of Tehran to protest Iran’s mandatory headscarf law.

Photo: Hengameh Golestan. Source: Rare Historical Photos

Photo: Hengameh Golestan. Source: Rare Historical Photos

Photo: Hengameh Golestan. Source: Rare Historical Photos

Photo: Hengameh Golestan. Source: Rare Historical Photos

2. The amount of political violence it has taken to keep women down, and the theocracy intact. 43 years of unimaginable terror. The ”disappearance” of protesters, imprisonment of political opponents, torture, stonings, mass executions, public hangings from cranes.

But the whole world can see that it’s not CIA agents fighting in the streets of Iran, but young women whose lives have been a constant struggle for basic human rights. Just like the generation before them.

I believe @paran.nb when she says:

”We are born of fire.”

Gilead is burning.

#iranrevolution ❤️‍🔥

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