So Much to Learn from One Another

Niti Dandekar, the Regional Reference Person for India, has decided that women’s liberation is a key issue for the liberation of India. Iranian RC women, led by Vida Mozafarieh (my mom), are also committed to women’s liberation as their key issue. The women’s workshop in India1 was a growing experience2 for us all—the women from India and Iran, and the three women who live in Western capitalist nations (Diane Balser,3 Sujata Maini,4 and me).

Diane asked the Indian and the Iranian women to name a few of their female leaders and to talk about the accomplishments of females in their nations. The Iranian women said that every woman in Iran is a leader for withstanding the oppressive apartheid laws against women. They spoke about their experience with the “morality police,” who target and arrest women deemed to be “immodest.” A woman laughing on the street is considered immodest; a woman whose hair shows from under her scarf is considered immodest.

The women worked on some hard topics: love and arranged marriage, the beautification industry, violence and rape, pornography, male domination, and religion (in particular, Hinduism and Islam). It became clearer how male domination requires every female to compromise and give up on5 her mind. None of us had a choice back there.6 I had good sessions working on my early days of growing up in Iran as a female.

I led a class with Sujata Maini on women and physical power. Every woman in the workshop had a chance to try physical sessions.7 I got to watch fifty South and West Asian women pushing, and screaming louder and louder, in the most benign environment ever. It was a lovely scene.

Both India and Iran are still struggling to leave feudalism and vestiges of colonization behind as they enter late-stage (collapsing) capitalism. Women are forced to adhere to the requirements of male domination under both feudalism and late-stage capitalism. For example, in Iran, women are still viewed as the property of men while they are also expected to be fierce consumers of products made by profit-making industries, including the beautification industry.

It was clear that pornography is having a devastating effect on the personal lives of Iranian and Indian women. Many of these women have fathers, husbands, and sons who are consumers of this industry. Often their husbands expect them to perform sex like the women in the films. Many Iranian men want Iranian women to look like the actresses in porn, and more women are mutilating their faces and coloring their hair blond to look “sexy” like the porn stars. Despite the sanctions on Iran,8 porn created in the United States and Europe is widespread.

We need more opportunities for women from the global South to connect with women from the global North. We have so much to learn from one another.

Azi Khalili
International Liberation Reference Person for
People of South, Central, and West Asian Heritage
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion lists for
leaders of women and for RC Community members

1 See previous article. ("India's First International Women's Liberation Workshop" by Diane Balser (location: PT177, Liberation pages 28 to 29)
2 A “growing experience” means an experience that led to personal growth.
3 Diane Balser is the International Liberation Reference Person for Women and was the leader of the workshop.
4 Sujata Maini is an Indian-heritage RC leader in Stockholm, Sweden.
5 “Give up on” means no longer try to fully use.
6 “Back there” means when we were children.
7 “Physical sessions” are sessions in which a counselor provides thoughtful resistance for a client to push and fight against.
8 Since 1979, the United States has led international sanctions against Iran, as a way to try to influence Iranian policies.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00