Rebellious Silence by Shirin Neshat

Iran has many laws that sexually objectify women. Shirin Neshat, is a brave artist who decided to create a series called “Woman of Allah”. The series was intended to defend women’s rights in Iran. Shirin Neshat is the subject of Rebellious Silence, which is on of her most famous photographs. Currently, this photograph is available to be seen at the MET in New York City.

Shirin Neshat was born in 1957 and her father prioritized his daughters education and enrolled her in catholic school. Catholic school is where she learned about both the Western and Iranian cultures. After high school, Shirin moved to California for about 15 years because of Iran’s hostile environment. In California she realized how badly women were being treated in Iran. Eventually she went back to her homeland to confront Iranian society and her culture.

Rebellious Silence has many metaphors for how women can protect themselves from being sexually objectified. For example, the woman dressed in a black veil and is holding a gun in front of her face. In Iran women are forced to wear veils when going outside. The veil in the photo is intended to protect females from being sexually objected by men. Also, the arabic writing across the woman’s face is from a poem “Allegiance with wakefulness.” This poem signifies the conviction of martyrdom. Martyrdom is someone who has been penalized for not believing in what society thinks is true. When Shirin Neshat released her “Women of Allah” series, many people thought she was a crazy western girl because no female ever stood up for their rights in Iran. Fortunately over the years Iran has become more accepting of women and started allowing them to vote and be educated, something that was never even an idea before.

Having Shirin Neshat be the first woman to stand up for her rights in Iran, encouraged many other women to fight for their freedom as well. If Shirin wasn’t to stand up for her rights this still could of been a major problem in modern day Iran. This is why Shirin and her series “Women of Allah” is such an important piece of artwork. It really shows how important art can be sometimes.

Discussion Question: How much of a role does art play a role in politics?


Shirin Neshat, Rebellious Silence, Women of Allah series. (n.d.). Retrieved October 1, 2018, from

Art, Identity, and Culture. (n.d.). Retrieved October 1, 2018, from

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