The Women of Iran

Woman Warrior

They amaze us with their grit and courage in the face of guns, truncheons, and tear gas, swooping on the basij and shaming them as the brutes beat an older woman or a child or a young man being dragged away. They make us smile with their green head and wrist bands, V signs, posters, and knowing grins. They break our hearts as they pray, call out to one another from their roof tops, and with their children scream in fear at night as the thugs invade their homes.

They make us yell, “You Go Girl!” when they kick a hoodlum cop in the butt, but also when they shield another cop from angry blows of the exhausted, anguished, frustrated protesters. These Women Warriors are bright, educated, gorgeous, so incredibly beautiful they take one’s breath away.

And there is Neda Agha-Soltan whose family called her “a beam of light.” She went out that morning to protest; instead, we all watched her bleed into the street and take her last breath, and our hearts broke as we screamed with those trying to stop the blood pumping from her wounded heart and trying to make her breathe again. Shock, horror, anger, and disbelief: she was too young, she was too vital, she was too lovely.

She now lies alone in a cold grave while the video of her public death plays over and over and over on TV screens across the world; it seems so obscene because we know she should be finishing her philosophy degree and planning her wedding. Instead, she is the voice and the icon of not only the Iranian Revolution but also of the Women of Iran. On the Twitter trending topic, #iranelection, her image has become a favorite avatar of the earnest posters hoping desperately that the revolution will succeed, and the young people will survive and flourish–her name on their lips.

Neda has become the individual every cause, every movement must have to make it real to the rest of us. She is the man in China, standing defiantly in front of the tank, with his bags rocking beside him, refusing to let it pass; she is Anne Frank in Holland who wanted to be a writer and who personalized the Holocaust for generations in her Diary; she is Joan of Arc in France, who led an army and was martyred for her cause as well. However, Neda–who didn’t get a say in her destiny– if asked might she want to be a martyr probably would have said, “no, please, I’d rather go home today.” And it’s so achingly sad. As the media remind us on the hour, she is an icon now, an image mourned the world over.

But more importantly, she is a warm, vibrant young woman, daughter, student, fiancée, friend who lost everything to a vicious regime that would turn violently on its own people rather than give up their arrogant, iron-fisted hold on power, which they are in fact powerless to keep now. As we watch her die over and over and miss her so much, our anger rises, our hearts break and the tears will not stop. While we celebrate our new Women Warriors, we and they grieve for Neda Neda Neda–our sister our daughter our beloved angel who now belongs to all the light.


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