This International Women’s Day, Iranian Feminists Are at the Front Lines

On Worldwide Girls’s Day, the world is at a turning level. On the one hand, we face the worldwide rise of authoritarianism and fascism. However, fashionable uprisings for a democratic existence in opposition to authoritarianism and imperialism have been rising in varied components of the world, with fashionable resistance persisting from Myanmar to Sudan and from Ukraine to Iran.

Girls and trans folks within the U.S. have suffered a heavy blow with the U.S. Supreme Courtroom’s repeal of the federal proper to an abortion, and the intensifying effort of the Republican proper wing to repeal or severely restrict abortion rights in varied states. At the same time, women in Latin America — specifically in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico — have made some important gains in decriminalizing abortion and increasing reproductive rights as a part of a broader social justice motion that includes working-class girls, together with Indigenous girls.

Iran has been on the entrance traces of energetic organizing by girls who’ve been main a well-liked and principally youth rebellion, which was set off by the September 16 Iranian state police murder of a young Kurdish woman, Zhina Mahsa Amini, for her “improper” hijab. This rebellion continues to present itself in numerous methods and faces more and more brutal state repression. It represents each braveness and the hassle to articulate particular feminist calls for.

Iranian Feminists and Labor Activists Articulate Emancipatory Calls for

The most recent manifestation of the misogyny that seeks to carry Iranian girls again has been the systematic and nationwide poisoning of faculty women. Since early December 2022, over 1,000 schoolgirls in over 50 schools across the nation have turn into sick with symptoms of nerve gas poisoning. Within the lead-up to immediately, various teachers’ groups, pupil teams and girls’s teams have issued calls to protest the poisoning and to honor Worldwide Girls’s Day. Feminist and labor teams have additionally been issuing varied statements of calls for to articulate their views for a future democratic Iran. These statements have known as totally free and equal high quality training for men and women in any respect ranges with none gender segregation; girls’s equal participation within the social, political and financial sphere; reproductive and abortion rights; divorce and custody rights; banning feminine genital mutilation, little one marriage and polygamy; criminalizing gender violence and sexual harassment; categorizing home work as onerous labor requiring higher compensation; and authorized and well being providers for incarcerated girls.

Some feminists have argued that demands cannot be left at the minimum civil society level however should embody human rights, together with oppressed nationwide, spiritual and sexual minorities in addition to migrants (principally Afghans); and to advocate social justice and optimistic discrimination (affirmative motion). Some have additionally opposed any name for the legalization of intercourse work however advocate decriminalizing intercourse employees. These feminists oppose exploitation and particularly exploitation of working girls whereas additionally advocating for the socialization of home labor.

The results of the above feminist efforts and the collaboration of feminist and labor unions inside Iran has been a outstanding assertion of calls for entitled “The Statement of Minimum Demands of Independent Iranian Unions and Civil Society Organizations.” Dated February 14, 2023, it coincides with the forty fourth anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. This assertion declares:

The Lady, Life, Freedom Motion is a foundational motion to protest the present state of the nation. It’s a motion in opposition to misogyny, gender discrimination, limitless financial insecurity, enslavement of the labor drive, poverty, distress, class oppression and oppression in opposition to nationwide and spiritual minorities. … This motion is geared toward completely ending the formation of any energy from above, and marks the start of a contemporary and human social revolution for the emancipation of the folks from all types of oppression, discrimination, exploitation, tyranny and dictatorship.

The “minimal calls for” articulated on this declaration embody an finish to the dying penalty and the rapid launch of all political prisoners. Additionally they embody:

rapid authorized equality of men and women in all political, financial, social, cultural and familial arenas. The unconditional abolition of all discriminatory legal guidelines and customs in opposition to sexual and gender id and orientation, the popularity of the rainbow LGBTQ+ neighborhood, decriminalization of all gender identities and orientations, and unconditional adherence to all of the rights of ladies to manage their very own physique and their very own future with none patriarchal management.

Subsequently, a group of Iranian women’s rights activists inside Iran issued a statement for International Women’s Day during which they emphasize that gender discrimination is rooted within the continuation of capitalist patriarchy. They affirm lots of the calls for raised by the assertion of minimal calls for cited above. Additionally they state that the present motion has gone past demanding something from the federal government which is sure to fail. They problem all establishments of energy, whether or not the Islamic Republic or monarchy, and pursue radical and structural adjustments, together with the next: The correct to decide on one’s apparel, residing wages, full reproductive and abortions rights, free training, free well being care, and look after the aged and other people with disabilities.

The above developments are clearly spectacular and mark a leap in Iranian society. On the identical time, the forces of counterrevolution are highly effective, each within the type of the brutal militarized capitalist state of the Islamic Republic and within the type of a coalition headed by Reza Pahlavi, the son of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the authoritarian monarch who was deposed by the 1979 Revolution. Each forces are utilizing their capital, energy and worldwide connections. One facet desires to fully destroy the present rebellion by way of brute drive. The opposite is providing secular Iranian nationalism as the choice whereas paying lip service to range.

Increasing the Imaginative and prescient of the International Feminist Wrestle

There’s a lot that girls world wide can be taught from the present girls’s battle in Iran. Whereas Iranian girls haven’t but succeeded in making a feminist revolution, they’ve posed some vital questions and challenges for world feminism.

The slogan, “Lady, Life, Freedom” which has turn into the motto of the present rebellion, is affirmative. It invitations feminists to supply an emancipatory imaginative and prescient of the long run. The younger girls protesting, getting shot, blinded, arrested, raped, and typically killed are principally working-class and marginalized girls of shade. A few of them don’t match the gender binary. They’ve suffered from over 40 years of a militarized capitalist and spiritual fundamentalist state. They refuse to permit the idea of life to be taken over by the intense proper in its effort to push girls again into having increasingly infants.

They’re additionally not happy with liberal feminism’s language of “selection,” careerism and self-interest. Slightly, what many Iranian girls demand is a human existence primarily based on self-determination, collective solidarity, emancipated labor and training, and an finish to state and gender violence, which they see as intertwined.

As I’ve specified by extra depth in my e book, Socialist Feminism: A New Approach, confronting racist patriarchal heteronormative capitalism immediately calls for growing a humanist different to alienated labor and redefining humanity’s relationship with itself and with nature. And to take action successfully, we’d all do properly to delve extra deeply right into a wealthy physique of socialist feminist concepts starting from social copy theories to theories of alienation, Black feminist intersectionality, abolitionism and queer theories. Critically exploring and evaluating these concepts may give us a basis for addressing the query of methods to transcend capitalism, racism, sexism and heterosexism, each on the structural and on the private degree.

Constructing Worldwide Feminist Solidarities

When the #MeToo motion based by Black feminist abolitionist Tarana Burke turned a worldwide motion in 2017, there was a lot hope that world feminism would attain a brand new degree each qualitatively and quantitatively. The #MeToo motion revealed that girls — regardless of how profitable, whether or not within the company world or in academia — are nonetheless seen as sexual objects for use and abused. The #MeToo motion provided the potential for dismissing the parable of capitalist “selection” and “empowerment” that did a lot harm to the ladies’s motion within the Eighties and Nineteen Nineties. It doubtlessly revealed the inseparability of capitalism and patriarchy.

It additionally created a fertile foundation for brand new feminist theorizing and organizing to supply a substitute for capitalism’s dehumanization and commodification of ladies and individuals who don’t match the gender binary.

Growing such another nonetheless stays the problem immediately, when the intersection of gender and state violence continues to develop and promote mass rape, incarceration and femicide, from Ukraine to Xinjiang and from Afghanistan to Ethiopia.

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