In the forefront of the struggle against the shah and the first group to challenge the new revolutionary order, Iranian women seem determined to demonstrate anew if necessary to defend rights threatend by the Moslem clergy.
Today Iranian women are watching with undisguised suspicion the Moslem clergy's efforts to regulate their professional and personal lives. Their feelings are shared by many generally more cautious Iranian men fearful of other aspects of real or threatened clerical dictatorship.
But unlike the men, Iranian women -- if a series of interviews accurately reflects the national mood -- appear willing to take to the streets again rather than knuckle under to the increasingly despised and mocked clergy.
Many of the worst fears that prompted the women's marches in the winter of 1979 soon after the revolution have not been realized. But the threat remains that the new parliament, dominated by the right-wing clerical Islamic Republican Party, will try to vote laws barring women from various occupations, restricting their rights and reducing them to second-class citizens.
"The clergy wants to put the country back 1,400 years by applying Islamic law," one prominent woman lawyer said in an interview. "But Iranian women are stubborn. We will not sit with folded arms. We will demonstrate if necessary."
Raising such suspicions have been various decisions by the government. As was the case in motivating the 1979 marches, restrictions on dress have been the most obvious cause of dismay. Yet women employes of the state railway reportedly are resisting orders that they wear head scarves and a uniform of tunic and pants.
Segregation of the sexes now begins in school and applies to public bathing and even wedding receptions.
A woman lawyer said she was convinced that the clergy is "trying to get rid of women in government jobs." She noted that all five senior women judges in Tehran have been removed from their jobs and quietly given less visible work in the Justice Ministry.
A colleague criticized the women judges for accepting their fate without a fight and said they apparently feared being transferred to the provinces had they protested.
Women lawyers have been in the forefront of the successful fight to prevent the clergy from simply abrogating the Family Protection Act passed in 1967 to safeguard women's rights.
Divorce proceedings are still handled by civil courts rather than Islamic ones. Islamic law, in theory at least, allows a man to divorce his wife by repeating three times, "I divorce thee."
Child custody proceedings now openly favor the father and, if he is not around or is considered incompetent, his family rather than the mother, according to women lawyers.
"It's out-and-out male supremacy," a lawyer said.
If many Iranians of both sexes are increasingly outspoken about clerical interference in politics and everyday life, it is often the women who are more militant, possibly because they have borne the brunt of decisions ordered by Iran's new, self-appointed keepers of morality.
Without exception, however, the women interviewed drew a clear distinction between the meddlesome clergy and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the revolution's leader. He was not held responsible for the excesses.
The only woman who felt fearless enough to be quoted by name was Azam Taleghani, daughter of the late nonconformist ayatollah widely respected for his tolerance of other religions and the political left. She is one of three women elected to the 270-seat parliament.
Other women interviewed were all more cautious. A beautiful young upper-class woman, dressed in matching pink blouse, pants and shoes, was clearly upset by unsubstantiated rumors that fanatics had thrown acid on women who refused to wear the full-length chador or cover their heads.
"If I go downtown I think twice about what I wear," she said. "Maybe I've gotten more scared and paranoid, but if I have to go to government offices . . . I wear a dark skirt and no makeup. Why takes chances?"
An older, well-established woman lawyer said she goes to court in short sleeves, considered dangerously erotic by the clerical purists, and without covering her head.
"No one can force me to put a scarf on my head or change my thinking," she said, "but other women can wear the chador. That doesn't bother me as long as they are not dominated by their fathers, husbands and brothers."
Like many of those interviewed she said she was counting on the three women members of parliament to defend women's rights.
"We are going to watch them like hawks and keep track of every little thing," she said. "And if the clergy go too far they'd better watch out."
Azam Taleghani, dressed in strict head scarf and a black, formless dress, said she had hoped that "50 women would be elected." She made clear she would defend not only women's rights, but also the open brand of Islam associated with her family.
Imprisoned along with her father under the monarchy, reportedly tortured and raped before his eyes by secret policemen, she is enormously respected even by those who disagree with her politics.
She pointedly refused endorsement during the parliamentary campaign by the Islamic Republican Party, which many Iranians hold responsible for the puritanical, narrow-minded and quasi-totalitarian tendencies in the revolution.
Although she decried the party's hard-line tactics, she said the left, too, had been at fault in trying to take over the universities, bringing on clashes with Moslem fundamentalists.
Choosing her words with the care of a practiced politician, she answered a question about the Islamic Republicans without naming the party.
"As long as there is blood in my veins," she said, "we must fight against groups who do not let real Islam be established."