Understanding Iranian Feminism: The Movement and Its Impacts

The recent death of Mahsa Amini has brought worldwide attention to the oppressive traditions enforced on women in Iran as a result of the imposition of Sharia law in 1979. While the official report exonerates the state, many believe that Amini was killed after having been arrested and beaten for violating the mandatory dress code for all women, specifically the compulsory wearing of a hijab in public. As a result, women from all classes of society are rising up against the regime in the face of life-or-death circumstances to end the regime’s gender apartheid that has been prevalent for too long. This is the face of Iranian feminism today, otherwise known as the Iranian Women’s Rights Movement.

The Iranian Women’s Rights Movement began after the Iranian Constitutional Revolution in 1910, when the first women’s journal was published. Crackdowns by Reza Shah Pahlavi’s government caused the organization to disband in 1933 — however, feminism endures, even through the toughest of times. The Shah’s son instituted reforms influenced by the women’s rights movement: these gave women the right to vote (1963), to run for public office, and to have enhanced divorce and custody rights (1975). This all came crashing down with the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Under Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran became an Islamic republic functioning under Islamic fundamentalist law, with Khomeini holding immense political power and hegemonic influence over all others as the Supreme Leader. After the revolution, the Iranian government curtailed basic human rights for women, including the implementation of public dress codes for women, which involves mandatory veiling. 

Today, the advent of social media and the information superhighway has brought international attention to what was once an oft-neglected issue affecting women’s rights around the world. The death of Mahsa Amini has brought global support for the women being actively oppressed in Iran. No longer is it just the Iranian population pushing for change, but the entire world is supporting this movement of equality; it is this power and push for change that will bring about a people’s revolution in Iran. 

The movement’s slogan today is “زن زندگی آزادی”, which translates to “Life, Women, Freedom.” At the core of it, Iranian feminism is not localized to Iran; it’s about striving for equality, freedom, and the right to safety and security for all women, everywhere. We stand by the people of Iran as they fight for a better life for all. 

By: Anita Asheghan and Joshua Cheng


Why feminism matters to me

Feminism is a term that has come to mean a lot. Fundamentally though, it’s about respecting the rights of women and girls, especially in cases where women have been historically or systematically disenfranchised and discriminated against. It seems like a simple idea, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The ways in which women have been slighted systematically by society and the government have been and continue to be enumerable. This includes everything from the basic right to vote to the toxic attitude towards femininity displayed through phrases such as: ‘women shouldn’t play sports’.

In day-to-day life, I and the people around me, of all genders, notice this sexism and discriminatory attitude at play, yet continue to choose a path of inaction. The main reason many choose a path of inaction is that they do not believe it to be an issue, don’t know how to, or most damaging of all because it does not seem to be an issue that affects them directly. This ideology is harmful and pushes the toxic, discriminatory environment onto all social situations. 

Furthermore, the ideology that sexism is not an issue could not be farther from the truth, with 80% of women haven experienced some kind of sexual violence, and 40% reporting workplace discrimination, the issue of sexism is ever-present in the lives of women and girls. It is no longer a question of whether there is an issue but how you can work to mitigate it. The stunning statistics present a world in which no matter your gender you cannot distance yourself from this issue. Everybody will invariably have friends, parents, siblings, or coworkers who have experienced sexual assault and discrimination. The fact that you might not often hear about it speaks nothing to its prevalence and everything to the societal attitude of sweeping it under the rug.

Simply by listening openly to those around you, you realize that the prevalence of this issue is undeniable and the lack of support towards those who are victims of this issue becomes inhumane. Hence, as a supporter the best things you can do is listen, and call out discrimintation or inappropriate behavior. Though there is a lot of work to be done to eliminate this issue, these seemingly small acts of support will ensure that perpetrators of this discrimination know that it’s not acceptable in any form. In simple terms, be a feminist, and stand up for those around you. 

By Joshua Him





The Shackles of Language on Gender Equality

In today’s world, women suffer from many burdens placed egregiously by the collective against them. By neglecting the identification of these faults and by failing to seize our agency in resolving them, there lies individual guilt in the allowance for perpetuation. To analyze this further, we must search in introspection the reason for why it is that the profanity used commonly in mainstream media is directed towards female-identifying individuals. We must ask ourselves why the comparative used in these insults place women in an inferior position to “the normal”. What differentiates the extent of insult that is expected to be felt between being regarded as a “dog” to a “female dog”? 

As Oscar Wilde remarked on the nature of identity, “most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” The fundamental pursuit of many, as outlined, are simply reflections of other people. According to many reports,[]  language in the status quo continues to retain a large influence in how the society which uses it thinks. Without even realizing it, many of one’s opinions and passions are products of the culture surrounding a particular language, which, in perpetuation, maintain the doctrines that the language is grounded in; principally, this is regarded as linguistic relativity. By continuing to use the language in a way which its faults are never corrected, the language becomes further entrenched in problems that become only harder to solve. [] 

Heavily gendered languages also demonstrate the complexity of worldviews and their role on the state of the equality of the sexes.[] In this, even if the language does not place forth a false pretense of female inferiority, removing negative connotations associated with a particular gender becomes much more difficult due to the rigidity of the linguistic structure.[] Ethically, the preservation of equality in society is the most clear direction in upholding values seen in a just society. Practically, gender equality will allow for unseen windows of opportunity and streams of ambition to be found free where it was caged before. What can be exposed from this understanding then are the barriers that disallow these practical, and ethical, benefits from being as readily implemented as they should. 

As it was alluded to earlier, language appears to be one of the most difficult barriers to cross in conquering gender inequality; while language is not solely responsible, it’s inevitable attachment to the formation of stereotypes paints it as a culprit of many of today’s systemic problems within the conversation of gender but also beyond. By increasing our individual accountability for the words we use, and by working to actively understand the connotations of words in an ever-growing and ever-changing language such as English, we must venture forth wary of how impactful language can be. Perhaps, if the cultures of these languages sought this maturity and initiated its natural course towards a linguistic metamorphosis, from a shackled language, as tethered as a caterpillar to the ground, may a butterfly emerge, and break free of its chains. 

By Sanjit Neil Samanta


“The Subtle Ways Language Shapes Us,” BBC Culture (BBC), accessed February 19, 2022,

Barbara C. Scholz, Francis Jeffry Pelletier, and Geoffrey K. Pullum, “Philosophy of Linguistics,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Stanford University, January 1, 2015),

World Bank Group, “Gendered Languages May Play a Role in Limiting Women’s Opportunities, New Research Finds,” World Bank (World Bank Group, February 7, 2019), 

“The Problem with Gendered Language That No One Realizes but Should,” IndiaTimes, September 12, 2018, 


What is the Bechdel Test, and Why Does it Actually Suck?

The Bechdel Test, created by Alison Bechdel in 1985, is intended to be used as a test to measure the extent of female representation in film and television. The test includes these three criteria:

1. There must be two named female characters.

2. They must have a conversation with each other.

3. The two female characters must converse about something other than a man. 

Quoted by Victoria Lara, a writer for The Daily Free Press, “while the premise may be simple… only 58% of all movies in the Bechdel Test database pass in all three areas”. 

We need to acknowledge how the majority of movies and shows within the Bechdel database released in 2021, barely pass the three criteria. Victoria Lara’s statement brings up the possibility of the problem being placed upon the screenwriters and how they write women into their works. However, what if the problem is not necessarily within the films themselves but in the test created by Bechdel? 

    Movies with a single strong female lead, with insightful dialogues with their male co-stars, challenge the Bechdel Test. Take Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock as an example. Bullock plays an independent female lead capable of dealing with the same issues as her male counterparts, however, the movie fails to pass all three criteria since she is the only woman cast in the whole script. Furthermore, another great example of why this test “sucks”, is deliberately executed in the Rick and Morty Bechdel Test skit. Rick is arguing with Morty about the three criteria in the Bechdel Test and urges him to come up with a storyline for that episode to pass the test. The story Morty comes up with shows how you can write a horrible plot about your mom and sister talking about tea, then going to fight an army of female scorpions using nothing but their “special time”- which is Morty’s interpretation of female periods, can still meet all three of the criteria. Whatever his mom and sister’s “special time” is and whether it involves lasers or not, does not really matter because the whole skit passed the Bechdel test. Morty did it, everyone!!! #feminisminfilm 😀

    In the investigation for a conclusion, we came to realize that films should focus primarily on accurately portraying female stories through an artistic lens rather than filling a specific quota to be feminist approved. Proven in Rick and Morty, just because a segment of the script checks off the three criteria of the Bechdel Test, does not mean the show has successfully portrayed empowering female leads. Lastly, as seen in the example of Gravity, a movie can accurately display the success of a woman yet not pass any of the three Bechdel criteria. Perhaps, the test had demonstrated usefulness in the eighties for promoting better female representation, however, in the twenty-first century, it needs to undergo a complete overhaul. The Bechdel Test provided a general guideline to get us to where we are now, but it’s time to go beyond. 

By Hanko Ngu and Ava Wagner


“Sexism” and “Misogyny” : Synonyms or Not?

With the start of the twentieth century, the first wave of feminism was initiated with the hope of highlighting the struggles associated with being a women and the strive of opening more opportunities for them. As the ideology of feminism and movements to fight for the equality of sexes progressed through history, words like “patriarchy,” “misogny,” and “sexism” became extremely popular, even making their way to the mainstream vocabulary. This led to the two words “misogyny” and “sexism” not to be only mistaken as synonyms, but to also be partially misunderstood. 

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word sexism is defined as the “unfair treatment of people, especially woman, because of their sex.” Sexism is prejudice and discrimination towards a specific sex and condonement of it as inferior. In a patriarchal society, it is the ideology that supports the stereotypical norms that surround the faulty gender roles. With this understanding in mind, it can be argued that sexism is not only limited to women. For example, believing females are delicate  creatures that are not fit for strenuous exercise such as weightlifting is considered sexism, in which it would be specifically targeted towards women. However, if a man enjoys wearing feminine style of clothing and is consequently mistreated at work, this person would also be considered a target of sexism. Marcia Klotz, an assistant professor in English and gender and women’s studies at the University of Arizona, states that “Sexism includes misogyny, but is not limited to it,” as it is a broad form of discrimination that is deep rooted in our society and is the cause of many instances of discrimination. 

Misogyny, on the other hand, is defined as a “feeling of hate or dislike towards women.” In fact, the word itself originated from the Greek roots “misein” and “gynē” which mean to hate women respectively. Misogyny is way more blatant than sexism as it enforces the bias against women in a hostile manner. Although sexism can sometimes be unconscious due to the stereotypes society created around women, misogyny is often  a different case since misogynists truly feel women should not be equal to men and that the gap should be sustained no matter what. An example of misogyny would be a person hating on feminists because they cannot tolerate women trying to achieve equality. Misogyny could be perceived as the “law enforcement of a patriarchal society” as it aims to keep women at a lower status than men.

Language is the essential aspect of our communication as a society. Gaining a better understanding of words like “sexism” and “misogyny” helps us not only understand important issues around us, but also how other people perceive these issues. 

By Heba Badahman


Intersectionality and its Importance

Coined by African-American feminist, Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality is a framework for understanding social relations by examining intersecting forms of discrimination. Discrimination against race, sex, and age exist on their own, but when combined, they compound themselves to transform a persons’ experience with oppression. Furthermore, intersectionality acknowledges the unique oppressions that exist, while also examining how they change in combination with one another. 

However, as people continue to build equality, many initiatives to end discrimination can often fall into the trap of considering only one element or ‘section’ of their demographic (e.g. race, sex, gender). For example, while the career of a young cis white and able-bodied woman might improve with the help of gender equality movements, a lesbian disabled woman of colour will continue to face discrimination due to aspects of her identity such as race, sexuality, and disability. Taking a look at the past, during the suffrage movement race was not considered critical in expanding the right to vote, hence, it took significantly longer for women of colour to gain the right to vote. In fact, Indigenous women were only given the right to vote in Canadian national elections in 1960. 

Thus, the idea of intersectionality becomes especially important when we as individuals and society try to work toward understanding the systematic disenfranchisement and discrimination that people experience. As we continue to forge an equitable society it is crucial that we learn from the lessons of the past and consider how marginalization can come from different sources for many reasons, and addressing one must involve addressing them all. After all, intersectionality is not about agreeing that people experience discrimination for many reasons, rather that it’s impossible to tackle such systemic and societal injustices individually. Understanding that the fight for equality is a fight for everyone’s equality and that working together cooperatively is crucial.

 By Hanko Ngu and Joshua Himmens

Sources used: 

Chandler, Leigh. “What Is Intersectionality, and What Does It Have to Do with Me?” YW Boston, July 2, 2020.

Columbia, Law School. “Kimberlé Crenshaw on Intersectionality, More than Two Decades Later.” Columbia Law School, June 8, 2017.

Crenshaw, Kimberlé “Opinion | Why Intersectionality Can’t Wait.” The Washington Post. WP Company, October 28, 2021.

Goertz, Gary, and Amy Mazur. “Politics, Gender, and Concepts Theory and Methodology.” Cambridge university press. Cambridge university press. Accessed December 12, 2021.’s_Movements_and_Job_Training_Making_Democracies_Work_in_the_Global_Eco

Hankivsky, Olena. “Intersectionality 101 .” BC Campus. The Institute for Intersectionality Research & Policy, SFU, April 2014.

Runyan, Anne Sisson. “What Is Intersectionality and Why Is It Important?” AAUP, January 24, 2019.

Steinmetz, Katy. “Kimberlé Crenshaw on What Intersectionality Means Today.” Time. Time, February 20, 2020.  

University of, British Columbia. “Intersectionality: What Is It and Why It Matters.” Vice-President Finance & Operations Portfolio (VPFO), March 8, 2021.   


Feminism: A (Brief ) History Of The Pursuit For Equality

“So here I stand, one girl among many. I speak not for myself, but for all girls and boys. I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.”

Malala Yousafzai

These words, spoken by Malala Yousafzai, encapsulate perfectly the ambitions of the feminist movement. While feminism has taken many forms across many decades, fundamentally, it will always be about equality. And so, it is important to recognize feminist philosophy’s growth over history to truly understand its progress. Let us begin with Canadian feminism, and how it relates to you. 

Historians often describe the progression of feminism using the ‘wave metaphor’. This breaks down the history of feminism into four distinct generations, each defined broadly by the characteristics of the issues they fought. Modern feminism began with the first wave, occurring between the late nineteenth century until the early 1920s. First-wave feminists centred around issues of labour rights and the right for women to vote. Notable early Canadian feminists include; Mary Ann Shadd, the first black female news publisher in Canada, and Thérèse Casgrain, a prominent activist and radio host. 

The second wave occurred from the early 1960s to around 1985. Prominent issues of this generation included reproductive rights, domestic violence, traditional gender roles, workplace equality, and racism. During this time, notable events included the formation of the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, the decriminalisation of abortion in Canada in 1969, and workplace strikes in the 1970s-1980s against women’s oppression in employment.

 Third-wave feminism is generally thought to have spanned from the early 1990s until the beginning of the fourth wave in 2013. The third wave emphasized confronting sexual harassment in the workplace, transgender rights, intersectional feminism, and violence against women. The latter in Canada became particularly relevant following the École Polytechnique tragedy in 1989, and the rising numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Many Canadian feminists embraced a wider battle against inequality, as members of the LGBTQ+ community, Indigenous women, immigrant and refugee women, disabled women and many other groups became a bigger part of a growing campaign for equal rights across communities. 

And finally, today. In contemporary society, social media has come to play an instrumental role in helping advance the feminist project. Movements such as #MeToo and #YesAllWomen are examples of social media’s influence; that the resharing of these ideas have allowed for them to become an integrated piece of our culture. The fourth wave has made tremendous strides in allowing for ideas to be spread faster, rallies to be organized better, and demands to be heard louder. Powerful hashtags allow for empowering stories to be spread, helping to grow the platform and provide opportunities to make a change. Ultimately, feminism is about fighting for the equality of everyone. We must recognize the pioneers of the movement and the individuals who dedicated their lives to it so that we can continue to build each other up and pursue the betterment of our world. 

By Madeleine Embury and Sanjit (Neil) Samanta

Further reading:

Article From Instagram

We are Women, poem

We are women

My body is my body

My body isn’t a buffet for you to pick and choose

I am not your toy for you to play with

I am a woman who deserves your respect

She did not tell you that you could touch her

She did not say yes, so why did you say she did

She told you to stop, but you kept going

She was uncomforatble, and you were pleased

We walk doen the streets scared for our lives

We cover and hide the beauties because you cant control yourself and your desires

You say not all men, but yet you make jokes about women

You say not all men, so why dont you do something

Women and girls are not your possession

Women and girls shouldn’t have to wait until they are older to feel safe

Women and girls gave life to you, and you choose to ruin our lives

Women and girls are human just as much, if not more than you

Avery H, CSWAG member