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.

Celebrating the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act: A Conversation with Rep. Jackie Speier

Last week, President Biden signed the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act, bipartisan legislation included in the fiscal year appropriations package. Two of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)’s bills were included in the VAWA reauthorization: a bill closing the law enforcement consent loophole, and another requiring climate surveys for college and university students to assess efforts to address sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, stalking and dating violence.

Speier, first elected to Congress in 2008, has announced that she will not seek reelection in November. She sat down with Ms. contributor Michelle Onello to discuss the improved VAWA and its critical importance for women, as well as her plans after she retires from Congress. 

Texas Set to Execute Melissa Lucio Despite Credible Claims of Innocence

Texas plans to put Melissa Lucio to death on April 27, which would make her the sixth woman executed in the U.S. in the last decade and the first Hispanic woman in Texas history. Lucio was convicted of murder in 2008 for the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Mariah, which she and her family claim was instead a tragic accident. Her attorneys are fighting to overturn her conviction and set aside her execution date based on her continued innocence claims and other procedural issues.

“Research shows prosecutors frequently trivialize women’s experiences as victims of gender-based violence when they are charged with crimes,” said Sandra Babcock, director of the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide and one of Lucio’s attorneys. “Yet Melissa was a victim long before she was a defendant.”

‘My Win Is Their Win’: Deqa Dhalac Makes History as Maine’s First Black, Muslim Somali-American Mayor

Thirty years ago, Deqa Dhalac fled her homeland of Somalia, right before the start of a devastating civil war which still lingers on. Last December, she made history when she became America’s first Somali American mayor; South Portland’s 11th woman mayor (the city’s first female mayor was in 1985); and the first African, Muslim, Somali American mayor in Maine and South Portland—a city where 90 percent of the population is white.

“It says a lot when six white Americans support and elect a Black Muslim immigrant to be their mayor,” said Dhalac about other South Portland City Council members.

As a Black American, I Am Tired. We Are Tired.

When I woke up on Tuesday, Feb. 1, I found myself scrolling through Instagram and seeing every other post celebrating Black History Month—from brands and organizations to politicians and friends in my feed. Three days later, in the early hours of the morning, Minneapolis police killed Amir Locke in his sleep while serving a no-knock warrant—the same type police used to kill Breonna Taylor in her sleep, and the same Minneapolis police that killed George Floyd in 2020 in front of all of our eyes. As I tried to understand why I was feeling incredibly cynical, I realized the reason: I am tired. We are tired. 

Yet, despite being tired, we must keep going. We have to keep fighting. We have to keep organizing. Together we must continue to press forward, turning pain into purpose and purpose into power. 

Reads for the Rest of Us: 2021 Best of the Rest

Each month, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.

You’ve read the other “Best of” lists—now read the other one. You know, for the rest of us. Each year, I review my monthly Reads for the Rest of Us lists and choose my favorite books of the year. It was such a wonderful challenge to review all the lists and choose my top 50, but here they are. 

The Feminist Peace Initiative Urges Intersectional Feminist Principles in U.S. Foreign Policy

The Feminist Peace Initiative, co-founded by MADRE, Women Cross DMZ and the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, challenges and reimagines a U.S. foreign policy in the interests of all people and the planet.

“The conditions people flee—economic, violence—are push factors often created by U.S. policies, and exacerbated by the climate catastrophe, a result of corporate extraction or militarized pollution.”

Unanswered Calls: When Domestic Violence Is Seen as a “Nuisance”

Nuisance laws fine and evict people when too many 911 calls are made to a specific address. They are often enforced against victims of intimate partner violence who call 911 for protection from their abusers.

This denies women and other victims of domestic abuse one of the most fundamental rights of citizenship—the right to freedom from unwarranted injury at the hands of fellow citizens.