Tag Archives: Women

Women of Color Speak Out: Changing the Climate of Climate Change

This group of strong, dedicated, passionate, intelligent and driven women who have been engaged in the climate justice movement have come together to share their experiences as Women and as Activists.

The audience loved them!

Answering difficult questions and sharing their personal stories of growing up fused with depictions of dealing with stereotypes, racism, sexism and self-doubt, they connected with people in a way that is often hard to achieve. Many people thanked them over and over for having the courage to speak out about the things that they too have also felt, but not had the space or felt safe enough to express their truth.

They were also able to pull together many of the organizations active in the climate justice movement into a unified initiative to expose the truth of so many of our movements for justice, that is, they are being led by women; and that women of color from front-line communities need and should be at the forefront of the movement.

It was a beautiful event and I hear that there is much more to come.

“Letter to the Men” by Renaissance the Poet: New HipHop Song & Explanatory Essay

How the hell is a man going to jump up and scream for Liberation and Justice, Equality and to be treated fairly, to have greater bargaining power, and to be treated like a human being; then turn around to promote Misogyny and Patriarchy which are mechanisms of Colonization and the Exploitation of the bodies and minds of women?

There is a manifest contradiction when these two opposite ends of the spectrum—justice vs. injustice—coalesce into one individual, wherein the latter completely disqualifies the former to the point that the man promotes a system of injustice instead of justice. Any ideology or societal organization principle that systematically relegates a particular group of people to a position of inferiority in a hierarchical structure, simply because of their affiliation or identity with the group is discriminatory, bigoted, and unjust to its core. Patriarchy is one of those unjust ideologies because it systematically seeks to relegate all women to positions of inferiority simply for being women. Ideologies that generalize and discriminate based on qualities beyond the will and volition of the individual is ignorant, short-sighted, and unjust.

Capability, merit, previous accomplishment, and potential future contributions are by far a more efficient and just means of distributing power and respect among and between people. Some men are promoted to positions of prestige and power, but lack the integrity, the intelligence, the character, and the communication skills necessary to perform the role they are selected for because they were selected solely on the basis of gender. This is a detrimental and foolhardy practice. Likewise, denying a position of prestige and power to a woman because the very same vital qualities that are necessary to fulfill the role are ignored for men and discounted in women, that is, they have not been considered in the cases of many women, qualities that they in fact possess. This is also a detrimental and foolhardy practice. If people were evaluated, both male and female, in terms of their capability; their merit, their previous accomplishments and their potential future contributions instead of their genders, sexes, ages, or ethnicity then the roles they are selected for would actually be fulfilled and the outcomes would be much more productive and achieved more efficiently.

A person should be judged by the contents of their character; not by their gender, sex, color, creed, or religion.

Adding Sexism to this discussion of the unjust hierarchical social structure of patriarchy, wherein the bodies of women are objectified and commodified, denying their humanity and instead attributing value to women only in sexual or monetary terms; the dehumanization of women is a glaring and unacceptable problem. It is also a dangerous and harmful combination.

Patriarchy is insidious because it has been the norm for thousands of years, and as a result the many ways it crops up could seem to many of the cisgendered men to be benign. For instance, the oldest reference to women as bitches I have found was in Homer’sThe Odyssey” from Ancient Greece. The term and the hatred of women, misogyny itself, is old, very old. Furthermore, contemporary women may be subjected to continuous unwanted sexual advances from men; men who feel entitled to do this because they are men and feel we must be macho and promiscuous to fulfill our roles as men. Patriarchy also denies women the same sexual freedoms granted to men and instead they are condemned and shamed by men and other women—who have been indoctrinated with patriarchy—for expressing themselves sexually, or dressing in a revealing manner. For thousands of years women have been thought of as being naturally ‘incompetent’ in some fields or activities, and their opinions in leadership roles have often been viewed as less credible. Women have rarely been given the same space to express their thoughts as men, regardless of how correct and astute they are and have been. Of course this denies the very real truth that women have been present and have been powerful decision makers in many of the biggest decisions that have shaped our world; the Julio-Claudian blood-line of the 12 Caesars of Rome in the era of Jesus was controlled by women; the shaping of the United States was heavily influenced by Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, one of the revolutionaries; Sojourner Truth the African American abolitionists; Harriet Tubman, an African American abolitionist and freedom fighter; Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the suffragist; Eleanor Roosevelt, the first chairperson of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights; Madam C.J. Walker, the first Black Woman millionaire who created a line of black hair products; the list can go on. Patriarchy also shows up when a woman justly and intelligently asserts herself and her autonomy and she is referred to as a bitch, which is an attempt to discredit her and her assertions. Patriarchy is ugly and ubiquitous and the list can go on, but the point is that patriarchy seeks to deny women their humanity and relegate them to positions of inferiority wherein they are only perceived as minor partners, partial contributors, sexual objects, and needing a man’s guidance and protection (paternalism); none of which is true.

Here are three interrelated points:

1. In a sense, culture is a living entity. It does and must evolve. To claim that subordination of women must be “be natural and correct” because “that is how it has always been” is wrong. It is a cop-out, it is recklessly conservative, it is unjust, and it is childish.

2. That a man may feel ‘entitled’ to a woman’s body is a continuation of exploitation and slavery; slavery simply being the ownership of another’s body. It is the refusal to recognize the autonomy of another. Entitlement can only emerge when one ‘feels’ they have the right to ownership over something or someone.

3. For a man to clamor for his rights and equity, and deny women similar rights and equity is a manifest contradiction to the concept of justice, equality, and world free from oppression.

Furthermore, that men are afraid of women and their inherent potential to shape our world; much the same as racism is about managing the fear of Black people coming to social, political and economic power because white people fear that the same harms they have visited on Black People will be visited upon them. This fear is driven by greed, the most fundamental components of colonialism and exploitation. It is about power, which is expressed in terms of control of the external world and, most often control of resources or other people. This fear is a plague that has led men to attempt to silence women and to hold them in bondage because of a fear of a loss of control, but this behavior is stifling our ability to develop as a people into a more mature society and culture. Since all living things must grow, this pestilent nostalgia is actually choking our culture and killing us: Reverse Racism.

I am calling on the men to be more; to do less; and to acknowledge, accept and respect the leadership of women. I am calling on the men to end our subordination of women; to end our abuse of women; and to stand up to those who continue to hate and abuse women. I am calling on the men to see and acknowledge the true value inherent in each and every woman; to treasure that value; and to disregard the antiquated valuation of women that has been instilled in us by the oppressive and colonizing culture of conquest and sexual exploitation. I am calling on the men to recognize the harm we are doing to us all by holding half of our population hostage, in bondage, attempting to silence the best within us. I am calling on the men to be Men, and in particular Black Men, to do away with this ideology of dualism and competition so that we can move forward as a people and achieve the liberation we so desperately desire.

i.Written by Renaissance the Poet

ii. Edited by Sharon Welensky & Tim Sage


Backing Track & Mix by Scott Paul Johnson


Written & Recorded by Renaissance the Poet




Verse 1

There’s a very real problem that needs to be addressed

And I hope my words offend, cause you to question your intents

As a man, a male, privileged, to live without regrets

This letter is for you, from a man who finally gets

That Oppression of women is the sickest form there is

there is nothing that epitomizes hatred more than this

Weakness, feeling the need to express dominance

Prominently, by suppressing a woman’s right to live

& to live un-assailed by male hostility

In the streets, on the job and in our families

Sexual harassment an infectious demon,

Spreading because men feel entitled to bodies bein

Perceived as property, a fallacy Contradicting we

The liberty we scream for we constantly recede

Cuz our greed makes us think we can take all that we see

We’d never tolerate being another man’s property


Sisters, Mothers, Daughters, Aunties, Girlfriends, Wives, Friends

The Women of the World combine to be the best there is

I just can’t take the hate no more, I’m calling out the men

You have a duty to us all to be the best you can

Verse 2

Walking down the street women have to risk the cat calling

Being asked for numbers, getting groped, raped and can’t stop it

& when they Stand Their Ground, flipping around the situation

Denying a man has the Right to incur this inflammation

She is insulted, threatened and in the worst cases

Women have been killed for denying men to their faces

& if that is not entitlement then I don’t know what is

Because who has a claim to another’s life

Let alone to a smile or even her mind

If she graces you the privilege, it is a gift, not a right

And she has the Right, like us, to be left alone

On her way home, to school, work or talking on the phone

& She has the Right to associate with you or not

Without fear of reprisal or the way being blocked

It’s not for you to decide, this is her choice

Infringement is Wrong, man, so cease all the noise


Sisters, Mothers, Daughters, Aunties, Girlfriends, Wives, Friends

The Women of the World combine to be the best there is

I just can’t take the hate no more, I’m calling out the men

You have a duty to us all to be the best you can

Verse 3

Women should be valued and cherished not disrespected

They’re Amazing, Intelligent, Partners, and they’re Finished

They do not need anything added or taken from them

There is nothing a man has that a woman needs from him

Not even semen, if that’s what you’re thinking

You can Check a sperm bank if you think that I am beefin

Paternalism a joke, they’re as capable as men

Neither need concealing nor protection, because they’re Women

They’re Human and were born with all they will ever need

Save respect and to be loved, just like you and me

And humans deserve to be treated with dignity

That means treated with equity, honor and esteem

Fail in any of these and you’ll see that she up and leaves

And finds one who can provide all the things that she needs

But I see that so many out get this wrong

& that’s why I wrote you a letter in the form of a song


Sisters, Mothers, Daughters, Aunties, Girlfriends, Wives, Friends

The Women of the World combine to be the best there is

I just can’t take the hate no more, I’m calling out the men

You have a duty to us all to be the best you can

Exclusion and Ignorance: Historically Not Good

If we accept that “men” have been made in the image or likeness of God, then whose image are “women” made in?

If it is true that nothing can come from nothing and that noting can come from something that is less perfect than itself, then how can it be that “women” have come from “men” when it is self-evident that “women” are much more beautiful than “men”?

Beauty is one of the necessary conditions of defining perfection.

Education: The First Step Toward Equality for Women in Iran

The Women’s Rights Movement of Iran during the first half of the 20th Century was primarily a battle for women to be considered as equals with men. There were many issues that the women of that period in Iran thought needed to be addressed, such as polygamy and suffrage.  However, what was most important to these women was that they had the same access to education as men. It was through education that they would be most able to fulfill roles outside of the home. Becoming educated was one of the only ways for women to participate in the government, because during the first half of the 20th century in Iran, women were viewed as incapable of the higher faculties that men inherently possessed. I will endeavor to reveal some of the difficulties in the struggle of women to earn their rights, some of the reasons why they decided to act as they did, and some of the outcomes of their actions. It is important to note before I begin, that I have found it exceedingly difficult to locate primary source documents written by women in this period, so I shall begin by framing the socio-political environment of Iran.

In the period between 1900 and 1940, Iran experienced many social, economic, political, and educational changes as the country sought to modernize itself, which by most definitions at the time meant to become more like the West. For instance, the Constitutional Revolution of Iran which lasted from approximately 1906 to 1911, sought to limit the authority of the Shah and to create a more democratic government. What is perhaps not well known is the amount of participation that women played in this movement, or the impact it had on them. Leading up to the Constitutional Revolution, Iranian women participated in the Tobacco Boycott of 1890’s, a protest of the Qajar Dynasty granting concessions and granting a monopoly of the tobacco industry to foreign interests. During the Tobacco Boycott, Iranian women engaged in public protests, and even violent attacks of public officials (Paidar, p 50-51). Then, between 1905 and 1910 secret societies were formed that were devoted to the formation of a constitutional government. In these secret societies women played an important role in the dissemination of information and protests (Paidar, 52-53). Many of the women who participated in the Constitutional Revolution were nationalists like their male counterparts. Yet, women, as a group, also began to form their own opinions, through the use of their communication networks and secret societies, about the state of women in Iran and the direction that modernization should take in regard to both women and the nation as a whole (Sanasarian p. 21-23). They were drawn to the call for equality and democracy because at the time, women were barred from most enterprises outside of the home, not allowed an education, not allowed to vote, were by law subjugated under the authority of men, and not granted liberty (Sanasarian, p. 21-23). Under these constraints, the agenda for the emancipation of women was conceptualized and communicated, with much of the primary focus placed on the education of women and girls. Thus, women both participated in the Constitutional Revolution of Iran and were influenced by struggle for a more democratic society.

During the Constitutional Revolution of Iran, Sadiqah Dawlatabadi (spelling varies depending on source) emerges as a major actor in both the development of Iran and was a focal member of the Women’s Movement. When Dawlatabadi was eighteen years old she was one of the founding members of the National Ladies Society in 1910, whose primary goal was the nationalization of Iran. The members also held concerns of the state of women in Iran, though they “blamed [the state of women] on the exploitation of Iran by foreign countries” (Sansarian, p. 35; Paidar, p. 69). Dawlatabadi was also the first female manager of the feminist Iranian newspaper Zaban-e Zanan or Women’s Voice first published in 1919, as well as the Persian representative for the International Advisory Council in 1926. Dawlatabi was an avid advocate for the literacy of girls and women, as is evinced by the pursuits of the Zaban-e Zanan, which “advocated the education and economic independence of women” (Sansarian, p. 32-33).  She did so at much risk to both herself, and the women who worked with her. Many of the women’s inequality issues that Dawlatabadi and many others fought for during the first quarter of the 20th Century came to pass after the Pahlavi dynasty came to power in the mid-1920s.

Thus far, for the framing of the first quarter of the 20th century in Iran I have had to rely on secondary sources, and although I was not able to locate a translated version of one of Dawlatabi’s own works, I have nonetheless located an article written in 1926, by an American woman who met Dawlatabadi in Paris named Mary Winsor. Winsor’s article titled “The Blossoming of a Persian Feminist” was published in the National Women’s Party magazine titled Equal Rights. Winsor’s article was primarily an expository composition, but she does report specific details from Dawlatabadi and some of it is even in Dawlatabadi’s own words. Given the difficulty of locating any works written by Iranian women from Iran during this period, this exposition of Winsor’s is quite valuable.

First and foremost, the existence of Winsor’s article provides evidence that Dawlatabadi did actually in fact live, that she was from Iran, and that she did fight for the rights of women. This is very important because many primary sources and historiographies have omitted the presence and activity of women during this period of history in Iran. For example, Edward G. Brown reconstructed the events that led up to, through and after the Constitutional Revolution in Iran in the book titled The Persian Revolution of 1905-1909 (1910), by piecing together telegrams from Iran to two newspaper companies in England: Times and Reuters. In none of the accounts was there any mention of the involvement of women, either in the revolution or in the telegrams. However, Sir Edward Grey, who was noted to be an active participant or at least an observer in the revolution both by Brown, Eliz Sanasarian, the author of The Women’s Rights Movement in Iran: Mutiny, Appeasement, and Repression from 1900 to Khomeini, and Parvin Paidar the author of Women and the Political Process in Twentieth-Century Iran, all identify women in the revolution. Both Sanasarian and Paidar reported that women were highly active in the revolution and that the London Times published a response of Sir. Edward Grey’s to Iranian women with the Russian intervention in Iran in 1908 (Paidar, p. 58; Sansarian, p. 20-21). The omission of women from this important period in Iranian history not only fails to capture the extent to which the Iranian people had to work together to accomplish their goals, but also fails to recognize the role Iranian women played in shaping Iran’s modernization. The existence of Winsor’s article in which she writes about Dawlatabadi is evidence that Iranian women were politically active during that period of history in Iran and is also further evidence of Dawlatabadi’s actions in Iran during the Constitutional Revolution.

The second function that Winsor’s article serves is to place Dawlatabadi in the mid-1920s as an advocate for women’s rights and it reveals a radical shift in Iranian thoughts about women. Winsor states that she met Dawlatabadi in Paris while “lobbying the International Woman’s Suffrage Alliance”, and they began to share experiences and interests. Winsor learned from Dawlatabadi that the Iranian government had sent her to Paris to get an education so that she could become the “inspector of a girl’s school in Tehran” (Winsor). When the Constitutional Revolution took place and Dawlatabadi helped to found the National Ladies Society in 1910, one of their primary goals was to secure the education of girls and women. Winsor’s observation reveals that in 1926, just over a decade later, the government not only sanctioned Dawlatabadi’s education, but was also promoting the education of girls. Further, Dawlatabadi was not in the “home” but was rather in another country to be trained for work outside of the home. This transformation of policy and social thinking is made more salient when Winsor relates Dawlatabadi’s own education. Winsor reported that Dawlatabadi told her what her father told her regarding the education of girls:

At six years of age her father said to her: “Thou knowest I do not love girls, for I do not think that they can study and acquire knowledge as men do. But the mother was enchanted that thou wert a girl and adores thee. For this reason I will bring up my daughter as I bring up my sons and will provide an education by one of the most eminent professors in Persia for all of you together. If thou studiest well, I will cherish thee as a son, but if not, I shall write in my journal that I do not love girls” (Winsor)

As can be seen in this short passage which are reported to be Dawlatabadi’s own words, education was typically a male occupation, and that in order for her to be educated she would have to be raised as a male. Further, women were typically not thought capable of learning, at least not in the same capacity as men could and she had to be trained privately because there was not a school for her to attend. What is perhaps not easy to gleam from Winsor’s account is that Dawlatabadi’s family was not one of the lower classes. Her father was “a priest of a high rank, holding the position second only to the Grand Priest of Tehran,” which is what allowed him to be able to educate his daughter in the manner in which he did. However, not all families had the capacity to do such, so many girls remained uneducated. Winsor’s article does not trace all of the steps that were taken by women seeking emancipation, or even Dawlatabadi herself. Nonetheless the article reveals that the actions of the women who were seeking emancipation in Iran had already had an effect, as at the time Dawlatabadi was in Paris preparing to be the inspector of the girl’s school in Tehran.

Winsor seems to have been particularly interested in Dawlatabadi’s publication Zaban-e Zana, Women’s Voice because she dedicated a third of her article to it. Winsor notes that Dawlatabadi had to obtain a “license to establish a feminist newspaper” while she was in Tehran. As was noted earlier, Dawlatabadi utilized the publication to promote women’s issues such as economic and educational equality, so the publication was no stranger to going against the grain. Winsor takes notice of a particular question that was published in Zaban-e Zanan about the veiling of women that caught the attention and retaliation of the religious elite. The question the publication asked the priests was: “Why are the peasant women allowed to go about unveiled, and why do they enjoy entire liberty?” (Winsor). The day after the publication her brother, who had assumed the position their father had held, met with Dawlatabadi on behalf of the priests and informed her that she had to give up on the paper. After which, when Dawlatabadi questioned her brother she was told “that it was not for her to ask the reason but to obey” for two reasons: she was under the authority of her brother who had become the head of the family after their father’s death, and that was the social order. However, as was shown in Winsor’s exposition, a male servant was allowed to question his ‘master’ because as Winsor explains “[t]he servant being a man was of course a privileged character” because he was a ‘man’ (Winsor). The response of Dawlatabadi’s brother was a prime example of the social norms she questioned, as she was not free, she was not equal. She wanted to know why but there were no answers to her questions, only opposition. Winsor’s article goes on to show that in order for Dawlatabadi to continue her publication without jeopardizing her brother’s position that she had to disown him and that she in fact did make that sacrifice. She continued both to question and to confront the socially stratified system. In the very next issue of Zaban-e Zanan she wrote an article titled “Long Live the Freedom of the Press”, wherein she blamed traditional thinkers for the death of liberty in Iran (Winsor). After that publication, Zaban-e Zanan published 2,500 copies each Saturday and influenced both women and men for the next two years about the issues that concerned women, in particular education, veiling, familial and economic. Evinced by the fact that Dawlatabadi studying abroad in Paris, her message was both heard and listened to, and the government was working to educate women and girls.

This is not meant to be taken as a complete history of the Women’s Movement, it was only my hope to shed some light on some of the causes, conditions and outcomes of the struggle women in Iran faced in securing their independence. Even with the lack of access to the primary documents written by the women who participated in Women’s Rights Movement during the first half of the 20th Century, there is no doubt that they were both politically active and influential in shaping Iran. Much like in American history, when women became involved in the national struggle for independence and democracy, those concepts conflicted with the reality of the subjugation faced by women. They used what they learned in the struggle for nationalism and applied it to the emancipation of women. One of the primary goals of the women’s movement was securing the education of girls and women, and by the mid-1920s, through perseverance and dedication they had helped the country takes steps toward that end. Those who were fortunate enough to have been educated prior to this transition, like Sadiqah Dawlatabadi, were the vanguards of the Women’s Rights Movement. These activists published many newspapers and periodicals, created secret societies, formed communication networks, taught one another, and risked death to help ‘modernize’ the nation of Iran,  by fighting for liberty and equality for both Iran and women. Mary Winsor’s article in the National Woman’s Party’s magazine Equal Rights helped to confirm much of what I discovered in secondary sources. She provided an insightful glimpse into the mind and the life of a woman who was one of the pioneers of feminism in Iran, and conveyed the message of how far Iran had come toward the emancipation of women, which began with their education.


Atabaki, Touraj, ed. Iran in the 20th Century: Historiography and Political Culture. New York:

I.B Touris & Co Ltd, 2009.

Brown, Edward G. The Persian Revolution of 1905-1909. Cambridge: Cambridge University

Press, 1910

Paidar, Parvin. Women and the Political Process in Twentieth-Century Iran. New York:

Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Sanasarian, Eliz. The Women’s Rights Movement in Iran: Mutiny, Appeasement, and Repression from 1900 to Khomeini. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1982.

Winsor, Mary. “The Blossoming of a Persian Feminist” in Equal Rights, vol. XIII, no. 36 (Oct.

1926). Woman’s World in Qajar Iran Digital Archive. Middle Eastern Division, Widener Library, Harvard Library. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:5604319 (accessed Dec. 11, 2013).