Online protests against the Iranian government's policies have recently taken an exceptional and unusual turn. Web pages making fun of laws restricting women from the public sphere have gone viral on social media. The strange thing about these pages - the official Facebook page has already received nearly 80 thousand likes in two weeks - is that women do not appear in them at all.
The men who run and operate these pages stress that they are not associated with any organization or group. They appear online as seductive women in order to express their dissatisfaction with Iran's social religious rules that emphasize modesty and require women to cover their body and hair when around men.
In a sheer role reversal, the men appear in sophisticated hairdos, heavy makeup and feminine clothing, along with the Persian slogan, "secret male liberation of Iran." Participants in these campaigns come from various cities all across Iran - giving the impression that this is a national struggle encompassing the entire country, rather than a specific place or sector in Iranian society.
"Despite the fear of being identified, these men are demanding the freedom and liberation of men in Iran," says the official Facebook page's admin operator. "The use of humor may give a softer dimension to this hard and tough struggle, but the issue is dead serious."
Some pictures on social networks depict men's body hair and beards, in an attempt to mock the Iranian regime which forces women to cover their hair to prevent temptation and romantic relationships outside of marriage.
"This is the main problem of the young generation in Iran," says an Internet user who is trying to show the difference between what is happening in Iran and what is happening in the rest of the world. "We need to fight against these social taboos." Highlighting a picture of a party in which men and women are shown celebrating, he raises the question of personal happiness, another issue of focus in Iran, after young men and women were recently arrested for videotaping a version of the song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. Pinning the blame on the Islamic regime "which does everything to make its citizens unhappy with its orders," the Iranian said "God help Iran's young generation if these are the people who speak in his name."
"We will continue to shout to the whole world until everyone hears us; we demand the liberation of men in Iran." He said that even though the debate is heating up, there are still those who believe the protest will change nothing in reality. "This psychological prison we are in is not allowing us to be free. We have to stop fearing ourselves and others, give us the option to choose!"