Iranian Judge Forces Man to Dress Like Woman. Feminists Protest.

To humiliate a guy, compare him to a girl.

Tell a boy’s friends that he plays with dolls. Announce that he has applied a dab of concealer to a zit. Hassle a co-worker who listens to Lite FM or puts flowers on his desk or gets facials. Make a scene if a guy eats a low-cal yogurt.

Just try painting your young son’s toenails pink, and feel the wrath of the hegemony (or at least Fox News) crash down on your head.

Humiliating men by comparing them to women works because it rests on societal bedrock: misogyny. Maybe I should say MISOGYNY. It’s too powerful a force for lower-case letters.

Being a woman is considered despicable, so comparing a man to a woman throws his superiority into question. It takes him down a rung on the hierarchical ladder where men are on top and the most helpless animals are on the bottom. Men don’t want to go lower on that ladder. Who would?

Some Americans would like to think that we’re less sexist than all that. I’d love to agree, but thinking of those examples of undermining masculinity was way too easy. Try a few yourself. There are so many things that are coded feminine in our society, and therefore are off-limits to men who don’t want to be humiliated as less than “manly” — which often glides right into “gay,” and that is still taboo for quite a few people in this country.

If things are still that unequal here, what’s the status in countries we consider “backwards”?

A recent vignette from Iran answers that question with a decided “hmmmm….”

The bad: a judge in a Kurdish town in Iran punished a man convicted of battery by ordering police to dress him in women’s clothes and drive him around town, which they did on April 15th. Reminiscent of American judges who force convicts to stand on the sidewalk wearing signs declaring their crimes, this punishment was meant to humiliate the criminal — in this case, by dragging him down to the lowly status of a woman.



The good: Kurds called the judge and the police on their sexism. Just one day after the punishment was carried out, 100 men and women joined a protest by a local feminist organization decrying the insult to Kurdish women. Men posted pictures of themselves in women’s clothes, some with signs saying things like “Being a woman is not a way for humiliation or punishment.”

After the protests, the local chief of police ordered cops not to cross-dress convicts as a punishment because it is “unpleasant.” Not sure whether that is a political/sociological judgment or an aesthetic one, but it does show that Iran’s feminists have clout and know how to use it. Like Americans, Iranians have a long way to go, but at least the declaration has been thrown down: being female is not a degradation, and being male is no honor.


Related Stories:

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The Vatican and Iran Agree On One Thing: Their Hatred of Women


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.8 months ago

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Jose L.
Jose L.2 years ago

So if I order a defendant to wear a one piece bathing suit to a formal ball that means I hate people who wear one piece bathing suits (or think one piece bathing suits are ridiculous and ugly)?

Societies all have standards/traditions of some sort (eg, wearing clothes). I am not saying that violating them should be seen as a negative, but as a matter of course, people from that society will consider the different behavior to be out of place. It doesn't mean they hate anything except perhaps to have mental models broken.

While having and promoting (mental) models of people and things in society comes with its set of problems IMO (including facilitating hatred and demeaning views), it itself doesn't imply hatred or demeaning views.

So my objection is to the claim "humiliating men by comparing them to women works because it rests on societal bedrock: misogyny." While this might be how it is interpreted by some, by others it could be that the man is not a "full man" (whatever that means) while not passing any judgement on women, and for others the cross-dressing can represent something else entirely, the man has to walk around like a clown and should be purposely disrespected as punishment.

Deirdre G.
Deirdre G.2 years ago

this is particularly interesting as in Iran it is legal to get a sex change or to use the proper name, gender reassignment surgery.

Lynn Demsky
Lynn D.2 years ago


Nils Anders Lunde


Rose Becke2 years ago


Jennifer Kopp
Jennifer Kopp2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

TERRY R.2 years ago


Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia2 years ago

This is an amazing article that high-lights the depth of misogyny very well.

Azure Wildflowers

ok, I don't think that's the most fitting punishment. What if he wanted to be a drag queen also? What about drag queen enthusiasts? I hope he got jail also?