Azar Nafisi and Robin Wright Discuss 'A Separation'

Nafisi responded to Wright's interview:

Robin makes a great point about women in today's Iran, and I love the way she relates her point at the beginning to the one about women in Iran today and in the film at the end.

But again, I feel that the reader without Robin's rich background and knowledge on the subject might not grasp that Iranian women's present show of resistance and strength is also rooted in their past struggle. Robin's point about traditional families sending their daughters to higher education after the revolution and its effect on women's attitudes and lives is very important. But I think another equally important factor that the American public in general might be unaware of is Iran's over a century and half struggle for modernism and pluralism, a struggle in which various strata of Iranians, including progressive clerics, intellectuals, women, and even some among the nobility participated. This struggle led to the first Constitutional revolution in Asia at the beginning of last century.

Women since then have been constantly fighting for their rights. Before the revolution, Iranian women were active in all walks of life, not only as ministers (of higher education and women's affairs) and parliamentarians, but as pilots, engineers, doctors, and members of the police force. After the revolution, the regime's implementation of laws against women—and its attempts through force and violence to limit and in certain cases eliminate women's rights both in public and private—rather than neutralizing and pacifying the Iranian women, made them bolder and more resilient.

I think this point is important, because these strong and determined women of today do not have to look to the West to fight for their rights, but have their own history and culture to rely on—they are following in the footsteps of their mothers and grandmothers.

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Massoud Hayoun is a digital-news producer for Al Jazeera America.

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