On Oct. 4, Dr. Yalda Hamidi — Assistant Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at Minnesota State University Mankato — came to campus to give a presentation entitled “Feminist Revolution and The Republic of Imagination.” The presentation covered the current, ongoing Iranian Revolution highlighting the expressions of feminist rage that are currently a driving force of the movement. Though this fight for freedom and choice has been a continuous fight in Iran, it reached its tipping point a month ago on Sept. 16 with the unjust death of Mahsa Amini over a violation of the mandatory hijab law.
On a visit with her brother to Tehran, Iran, Mahsa Amini was stopped by morality police for violation of the mandatory hijab law. While in police custody, the police claim that Mahsa had a heart attack, collapsed, and died. However, videos and photos circulating the media suggest otherwise – lying unconscious in a hospital bed covered in blood and bruised suggests that Mahsa was beaten and murdered by the police. Her death sparked nationwide outrage because it began to hold the government accountable and brought to question whether or not intersectional life – lives affected by inequality based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, class, and others that crossover to create unique dynamics and effects) mattered to those in power.
In an interview further discussing the current Iranian Revolution, Dr. Hamidi asserts that this moment is a revolutionary one, as it has already extended to Iranian, diasporic, and global communities’ understanding of Iranian womens’ intersectional feminist demands. In her presentation at St. Olaf, Dr. Hamidi displayed evidence of people who span the spectrum of social communities showing their support for the movement: school girls and college students blocking traffic, middle-aged and older women stepping out without headscarves to support the generation of their children and grandchildren, diasporic queer communities celebrating their identities and demanding to be heard, and many Iranian men across social classes, age, and religious beliefs showing support.
Dr. Hamidi emphasizes that, for those outside of Iran, it is still important to listen to the voices in this movement and forge solidarities, because global pressure will leave less room for brutalization from the government. Additionally, “this movement has something for every one of us,” says Dr. Hamidi, when asked as to why college students should be aware of this ongoing issue, “it’s important to pay attention that this movement is the accumulation of so many feminists, non-feminist Iranian, and global movements.” The current Iranian Revolution can motivate and energize everyone including college students to think differently about how our lives are impacted by different “discourses of colonialism, fundamentalism, and patriarchy.”
The unfolding events in Iran are being viewed as a pivotal moment for the country, as people are calling for an end to the morality police and the Islamic Republic as well as the gender apartheid regime. The second part of Dr. Hamidi’s presentation title, “The Republic of Imagination,” references an imagined socially just future for the Iranian people with intersectional identities who fought for social justice for decades. To Dr. Hamidi’s point of view, this moment is revolutionary, because “when you live under a government that actually bans imagination, imagining otherwise is the most revolutionary act.”