The Power of Women in Iran, Standing Up to the Morality Police

I was 16, on a trip to visit my family in Iran, when I was stopped and arrested by two morality guards. They plucked me off the street, loaded me into their car, and took me to the local station. My crime? I had my hair uncovered, showing it to their male gaze.

I still remember the searing mix of emotions that is familiar to millions of Iranian women who are arrested every year for this “offense.” But now, through social media, mobile apps, weblogs and websites, a growing movement of Iranian women are actively participating in public discourse and exercising their civil rights on the internet, which the patriarchal and misogynistic government has not yet figured out how to completely censor and control.

February 2022 Reads for the Rest of Us

Each month, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups. The aims of these lists are threefold:

1. I want to do my part in the disruption of what has been the acceptable “norm” in the book world for far too long—white, cis, heterosexual, male;
2. I want to amplify amazing works by writers who are women, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, APIA/AAPI, international, LGBIA+, TGNC, queer, disabled, fat, immigrant, Muslim, neurodivergent, sex-positive or of other historically marginalized identities—you know, the rest of us; and
3. I want to challenge and encourage you all to buy, borrow and read them! 

Women Are More Likely to Get Elected to Local Bodies Than to National Parliaments

Women comprise just over one-third (36 percent) of the over 6 million elected members in deliberative bodies of local governments globally, according to a new working paper released by U.N. Women last month. Although far from parity, this is the best representation women seem to get across levels of government: As they move towards the subnational and national levels, they begin to be replaced by more and more men, data shows.

In fact, women’s representation at the local level is better than at the national level by almost 10 percentage points.

Sundance 2022: “Sirens” Is Much More Than a Documentary About the First All-Women Metal Band in Lebanon

In her screening introduction, director Rita Baghdadi reasoned that she created Sirens, part of the World Documentary competition at Sundance this year, in order to make a film about women in the Middle East that wasn’t just about victimhood or struggle. What emerges is a beautifully-wrought and surprising portrait of Lebanon’s first and only all-women’s thrash metal band, Slave to Sirens.

Most Anticipated Reads for the Rest of Us 2022

I’ve spent the last few months scouring catalogs and websites, receiving hundreds of books and even more emails from authors, publicists and publishers, reading your book Tweets and DMs, all to find out what books are coming out in 2022 that I think you, my exceptional, inquisitive and discerning Ms. readers, will want to hear about. 

There are 101 incredible books on this list. I’ve been a professional book jockey for 15+ years and I am encouraged to see more books each year that reflect the lives we actually lead. There’s always more work to be done and more to be written, but I’ve reason to be hopeful. So let’s get to it!

Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation: Black Women Are Already Front-Runners in Statewide Primaries; Efforts to Pass ERA Ramp Up

Weekend Reading for Women’s Representation is a compilation of stories about women’s representation.

This week: Black women establish themselves as early front-runners in statewide primaries; New Jersey must track data on the gender and race of appointees to state boards and commissions; efforts to pass the ERA in 2022; advances for women around the globe; RSVP for RepresentWomen’s Solutions Summit for a 21st Century Democracy; and more.

On June 13, the Whole World Should Be Watching Iran, Demanding Justice and Calling to #FreeNahid and #FreeThemAll

“Propaganda against the state.” That’s one of the most frequent charges in politically motivated imprisonments in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Translated, it means “Thinking is forbidden and talking about your thoughts is a crime.”

My mother’s case burst my bubble and woke me up: Her case was not an exception, but a fate shared by hundreds if not thousands.