I suppose if it hadn’t been Michael Jackson’s untimely death, it would have been some other crisis du jour that knocked the Iran election coverage to the back burner. However, as Marcia G. Yerman points out, that our interest in Michael mania rivaled if not topped our concern about Iran does not speak well of us. As Yerman mentions, in the hours after Jackson’s death, there were so many messages on Twitter that the system was swamped to the point of disfunction,
I checked Twitter, to see if I were the only person wondering where all the other news stories had gone. The bird was pooped, exhausted from too many Tweets. When I went back later, I was able to get on, and found a few kindred souls lamenting the media situation. One had sent a message out to followers in Iran, asking them to hold on while the United Sates went through the Jackson news cycle.
However, if you happen to live in Iran, the crisis does indeed continue. I’m sure sooner or later someone will run some stats on MJ vs. Iran media coverage, it will no doubt be an embarrassing inditement of our priorities. In the meantime, FPN will continue to point towards useful commentary and information, particularly relevant to the role of women in what is happening.
Latoya Peterson has an excellent analysis of how references to beauty in the political discourse have been distracting from useful discussion of the issues,
While the politics of beauty practices has been a feminist mainstay around the globe, when employed while discussing the situation in Tehran, it distracts from understanding the actual issues at play. Often times, Western feminists become infatuated with the symbolic nature of veiling, and fail to listen to women discussing what they are actually fighting for.
In this case, it was not just the fact that the votes in Iran may well have been rigged—the regime hand selects the candidates anyway, meaning that only a small portion of those who wish to run for election will ever find themselves on the ballot.
She goes on to make the excellent point that,
Our feminist conversations on politics in the region should not immediately default to veiling and other style issues.
The visual narrative may emphasize clothing and beauty, but we should not be so distracted by images that we miss the message underneath the make-up.
As we continue to monitor the story, please add the Tehran Bureau, run by Kelly Golnoush Niknejad to your list of go-to sites for information. Lastly IPS has a good background piece here that also reports that a mothers-run ongoing vigil that has been organized in Tehran,
(A) group of women calling themselves “The Mourning Mothers” issued a call for peaceful protests at Laleh Park at 7:00 on Saturdays, near the area where Neda was killed on Saturday, Jun. 20.
The statement reads: “Based on what sin have you murdered our children? Why have you forced all mothers into mourning?”
The mothers have demanded an end to violence, the prosecution of those who have committed violence, and the release of over 800 persons arrested over the past two weeks.
It seems that with this new call to action, women will continue to have an active presence in the protests, which have taken on new dimensions objecting not only to election fraud but to violent suppression of peaceful dissent.
Many thanks to Mari Kurisato for permission to reprint the beautiful image above of Neda Agha Soltan from her website.