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Abbas Milani Explains How Authoritarian Regimes Use Fear To Stay In Power


Published: April 4, 2019

In spite of systematic gender discrimination at every level, Iranian women have continued their fight for inclusivity. As a result, Iranian women have become harbingers of a movement of civil disobedience. The women’s movement is not just about the veil – it is about breaking the authority of a repressive regime.

This video’s audio is excerpted from Abbas Milani’s 2018 Hoover Institution Spring Retreat lecture. 

Additional Resources

  • Listen to the full talk, “Septuagenarian Men, Young Women, and the Social Media in Iran: Prospects of Democracy in a Despotic Iran” featuring Abbas Milani. Available here
  • “The Paradox that is Persia: Abbas Milani at TEDxStanford.” Available here.
View Transcript

The Iranian regime is profoundly misogynous. 

If you ever look at any picture of the Iranian leadership, you see a misogynous septuagenarian male elite that has had virtual control in Iran for 39 years. 

They literally tried everything they can to push Iranian woman back into the model of what they think the model of womanhood is. 

Nevertheless, in spite of the systematic effort at every level, Iranian women have fought this regime. 

The significance of the women’s movement is not just about the veil. 

It is about breaking the authority of a despotic regime. 

Fear is an absolute essential ingredient of authoritarianism. 

No authoritarian regime survives if fear dissipates. 

Women have been fighting this gradual dissipation, this gradual challenge to the authoritarianism to the regime. If you can beat them in the streets, as women have, maybe we can beat them in other places.