The Windup Doll

The Women of today's Iran

Iran like so many countries has a troubled history, it has fallen from its greatness as Persia, an empire related by Dharma to India. It was a principled country based on truth but after being conquered by Islam, it has degenerated into divisiveness and oppression. Oppression particularly against women and children.

Excerpts from Iran Oppresses Women

The main religion in Iran is currently Sunni Islamic. In the Quran (the Islamic holy book), it states that women may try to manipulate and distract men from making important political decisions. Women are said to be evil. To prevent these distractions, women often are forced to wear head coverings such as hijabs. They can also wear chadris, which are older and more conservative outfits that actually limit the ability of sight for women. Of course, many women choose to wear a hijab, as it is an article worn to reflect a woman’s mind rather than body. Hijabs help women become closer to God. There is freedom of religion in Iran, but all women are made to wear a hijab while in public places. Any women found without a head covering in public could be fined, or even imprisoned. There is no rule equivalent to this for men. There are even specific policemen stationed to warn and threaten women to wear a head covering.

Husbands can prevent their wives from taking a job if he feels it would negatively impact her role in the household. Islamic government believes women are mentally and physically unable to work in certain jobs, such as government positions. Unemployment rates of women in Iran are extremely high as a result. There is much controversy over whether a woman is allowed to be president or not. No women has yet been confirmed as a candidate for office. There are currently women in the cabinet, but they are under a lot of fire. When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appointed the first female minister in 2009, many critics accused him of running a non-Islamic government. This accusation can lead to the refusal to follow the government, and therefore the refusal to pay taxes. Women having jobs is a big issue.

Iran claims to create more jobs for women by creating laws such as the one stating only women schoolteachers can teach schoolgirls over the age of 10. Also, from the first grade on, all schools are gender segregated. Men are also banned from some professions like gynecology. However, these “opportunities” only reinforce stereotypes of women, saying they can only be doctors for women and schoolteachers for girls, and not hold any other important government jobs.

Because of the limited job opportunities for women in Iran, one of the only lines of work for women is prostitution. Girls as young as 14 are forced into this heartbreaking profession. Women are left feeling worthless. They are only valued for their bodies, even after going through years of schooling in search of a job.

The Windup Doll by Forugh Farrokhzad

More than this, yes
more than this one can stay silent.
With a fixed gaze
like that of the dead
one can stare for long hours
at the smoke rising from a cigarette
at the shape of a cup
at a faded flower on the rug
at a fading slogan on the wall.
One can draw back the drapes
with wrinkled fingers and watch
rain falling heavy in the alley
a child standing in a doorway
holding colorful kites
a rickety cart leaving the deserted square
in a noisy rush One can stand motionless
by the drapes—blind, deaf. One can cry out
with a voice quite false, quite remote
“I love…”
in a man’s domineering arms
one can be a healthy, beautiful female
With a body like a leather tablecloth
with two large and hard breasts,
in bed with a drunk, a madman, a tramp
one can stain the innocence of love.
One can degrade with guile
all the deep mysteries
one can keep on figuring out crossword puzzles
happily discover the inane answers
inane answers, yes—of five or six letters.With bent head, one can
kneel a lifetime before the cold gilded grill of a tomb
one can find God in a nameless grave
one can trade one’s faith for a worthless coin
one can mold in the corner of a mosque
like an ancient reciter of pilgrim’s prayers.
one can be constant, like zero
whether adding, subtracting, or multiplying.
one can think of your –even your—eyes
in their cocoo of anger
as lusterless holes in a time-worn shoe.
one can dry up in one’s basin, like water.
With shame one can hide the beauty of a moment’s togetherness
at the bottom of a chest
like an old, funny looking snapshot,
in a day’s empty frame one can display
the picture of an execution, a crucifixion, or a martyrdom,
One can cover the crake in the wall with a mask
one can cope with images more hollow than these. One can be like a wind-up doll
and look at the world with eyes of glass,
one can lie for years in lace and tinsel
a body stuffed with straw
inside a felt-lined box,
at every lustful touch
for no reason at all
one can give out a cry
“Ah, so happy am I!”’

The poet Forugh Farrokhzad grew up in the mid-1900s. She herself suffered oppression because of her occupation as a woman poet. She had an arranged marriage at the age of 16, and got divorced soon after. She was not allowed custody of her child according to the court, and went on to write more poetry about women’s rights.

This poem’s meaning involves the dead and uneventful life of being a housewife. It expresses a desire to escape from this trap and find a more enjoyable occupation, before they grow too old to do so. Just because you are a women does not mean you cannot do great things.

Iran Oppresses Women


Leave a Reply