Beh Tou Cheh? (What's It to You?): Feminist Challenges in Iranian Social Media
Online feminist activism has opened a different path for ordinary Iranians who are not necessarily versed in post-revolutionary discourses on feminism and political activism nor are conversant with the names and past achievements of Iranian women's activist pioneers since the birth of the Islamic Republic in 1979. In the past decade, social media accessed via mobile technologies has helped to tease apart government statecraft that continually touts and reemphasizes Islamic values, at the same time providing a platform for a feminist consciousness that more recently has revealed a passionate support of individual rights, especially the right to privacy. This paper delves into the move towards a more individualized form of dissent among urban Iranian women, surveying the generational, ideological, and technological divides that have emerged among Iranian women's activists following popular uprisings that have been happening domestically since 2009. It reads four recent episodes of Iranian women's activism and considers how they collectively inform us about changing trends from traditional, collective, and feminist resistance activities to individualized and often celebrity-driven online campaigns to promote civil and political rights in Iran. The diverse activities of Masoumeh (Masih) Alinejad, The Girls of Revolution Street, protestor Vida Movahedi , and teenage dancer Maedeh Hojbari will be specifically analyzed as part of a larger movement towards an online women's activism whereby self-branding and individual rights are becoming the generational currency by which gender and anti-discrimination awareness are raised among Iranian publics.