November 25 was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Sharq, a daily, carried two separate items on its front page Wednesday to mark the occasion. The first piece by Poorya Alami was satirical, and the second one was a concise analysis by Minoo Mortazi Langaroodi, a women’s rights activist.
In this analytical piece, Ms. Mortazi tries to describe a new type of violence inflicted by women on themselves. She blames the newly-emerged ‘self-inflicted’ violence on the inferior light some women see themselves in. What comes next is a partial translation of her views:
Nowadays, different shades of violence against women, ranging from simple to complicated, have been identified. Ways to prevent or fight such violence are being promoted in media thanks to endeavors by equal rights activists, social workers and researchers focusing on social ills.
However, there is a newly-emerged type of violence against women which hasn’t drawn much attention. As you know the first step to cure ills is to diagnose them. So attention should be paid to this newly-emerged, self-inflicted type of violence some women have been subjected to.
One of the most extreme forms of self-inflicted violence some Iranian women are subjected to is that they sell themselves short. In other words, they view their personality and identity to sustain a family and social relations as weak.
Although Iranian women today are way more educated and knowledgeable than their mothers and grandmothers, they are grappling with an identity crisis less known to the older generation whose feminine identity was defined by values and beliefs.
In this day and age, by embracing consumerism, people are turning their appearance and bodies into tools at the disposal of markets which are merely in quest of profits. In clinging to mentality women have to make sure their bodies measure up to global standards in order to gain approval in society.
The pervasiveness of cosmetic surgery, including face-lifting, and constant change of hair color by some women are a reflection of the fact that some women in Iran feel deeply insecure and thus need endless approval and praise at home and in society.
Instead of correcting a defect in appearance, cosmetic surgery here is mostly intended to address the need for feminine security in women who seek approval and acceptance from a consumerist society.
One of the extreme forms of violence that women in developing countries inflict on themselves is that by unquestioningly following imported aesthetic clichés, they instill a feeling of inferiority and insufficiency within themselves.
By adding Europeanized qualities to their appearance and mimicking European body language, accent, mannerisms and culture and thus making themselves distinct, these women fully recognize the fact that the culture of consumerism is superior to theirs.
Sitting aside and witnessing such violence play out does not befit any fair individual, man or woman. We need to work out a solution. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women offers a perfect opportunity to ponder and produce a solution.