What do Iran and the U.S. have in common?

If news reports are correct, two of the seven U.N. member states that have not ratified the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) are Iran and the United States.

Here are two pieces of writing on it that might be well worth your time (for various reasons):

first, Senate Revisits the ‘Women’s Treaty’, by Amy Lieberman

second, The Case against the U.N. Women’s Treaty by (turncoat?) Christina Hoff Sommers

Apart from the more obviously important issues, was/is it inappropriate for me to include a parenthetical “turncoat” before Christina Hoff Sommers’ name? Does justice/morality/ethics require me to list her name as author just as I list other names as authors? Whether justice/morality/ethics does so or not, what other words might readers use to describe her? Any thoughts to share on this or related matters?

21 thoughts on “What do Iran and the U.S. have in common?

  1. It’s ironic that Sommers claims the treaty is outdated when her conception of “sex differences” definitely is. She writes, “For instance, it defines discrimination against women as “any distinction” based on sex. It urges governments to take measures to eliminate all sex roles and all behaviors that evince sex stereotypes.”

    Any discussion of feminism in politics is as good as thirty years old when the concepts of systematic bias, intersectionality and performativity (to name a few) are completely absent.

    I can’t believe she’s actually presuming biological essentialism and passing it off as third wave and then to top it off mucking up the fact/value distinction. It’s downright disturbing when people think that others are trying to argue that all human bodies are identical. They think “that sounds crazy to me, so these people must be crazy” instead of considering the thought, “that sounds crazy to me, so maybe I’m missing their point.”

    And the worst part is, deep down, I understand why Sommers and so many other people think the way they do; they’re operating with a whole other set of vocabulary, premises, and intuitions about human phenomena.

    Some days, I just don’t know.

  2. I think “turncoat” (as I understand the term) could only describe CHS if in fact, at some point, she had been a feminist. But she has not. I think she has very consistently criticized and rejected feminist theory, strategizing, policy proposals, and action throughout her career. So I agree with Adult Child: “anti-feminist” is a good descriptor of CHS.

  3. Sommers’ perspective on this is perhaps more fully apparent from her article here:


    In any event, to call her a “turncoat”–let alone an “anti-feminist”–is absurd: Sommers clearly believes in a principle of not limiting opportunity according to sex, which is the necessary and sufficient tenet for being a feminist.

    You can see that her objections stem from the perception that CEDAW will impose (whether directly or indirectly) structure (i.e. limitations) on how women choose to use that opportunity.

    Sommers simply doesn’t see any contradiction to a woman using the power granted by her equality to willfully choose an ‘unequal’ role in some manner.

  4. “not limiting opportunity according to sex” seems like an unacceptably thin/weak/inadequate conception of a “sufficient” tenet for being a feminist. In any case, this matter is tangential the post.

    Do readers have substantive comments on the content CEDAW (and/or facts about which members states have and have not ratified it)?

  5. I stopped reading shortly after the part where she says American feminism has become hysterical. Sommers may not believe in limiting opportunity by sex (though when she writes of feminism, “It aims not to free women to pursue their own interests and inclinations, but rather to reeducate them to attitudes often profoundly contrary to their natures” I wonder if she wouldn’t limit women’s opportunities according to an essentialist point of view)– but she also fails to see that women are not socially and politically equal with men.

    With all we know about distribution of household work, income inequality, status inequality, statistics on sexual assault, and all the data on implicit bias– it seems blatantly anti-feminist to me to write that women “have achieved parity with men in most of the ways that count.”

  6. Two Women’s Rights Activists Get Six Months in Prison for Signatures

    “…courts found Bidgoli and Masjedi guilty of ‘propagation against the regime” for their activism and signing a statement expressing their opinions about the conditions of human rights and discriminatory laws in Iran.’ ”

    “The ruling for Bidgoli and Masjedi, originally issued by Branch Two of the Qom Revolutionary Courts, is reflected as ‘propagation against the Islamic Republic regime, and in favor of a feminist group (The Campaign), through distribution and collection of signatures for changing discriminatory laws against women.’ ” …


  7. Young Lions of the Green Movement

    Stories of democracy’s courageous champions and the conditions of their imprisonment.


    People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran


    National Council of Resistance of Iran – NCRI



    — For interested readers:
    See also comments numbered 41, 43, 45, 47, and 52 in the following post:


    See also the following comment (with link below the text excerpt):

    Iran’s Grieving Mothers Not Deterred by Armed Suppression

    “A year and a half after the mothers of victims of the presidential election protests in Iran formed the group Grieving Mothers (aka Mothers of Laleh Park), they are now under growing suppression. Only during last week several group members and supporters were summoned to Iran’s Intelligence Ministry. And while two member mothers, Akram Zeinali, the mother of Saeed Zeinali, and Jaleh Mahdavi, the mother of Hesam Tarmasi, were released on bail, two supporters, Neda Mostaghimi and Hakimeh Shekari, are still held in detention.

    “But the question is why the non-violent activities of the Grieving Mothers are perceived by the government as a security threat? Why some of the arrested mothers have been pressured to make televised confessions? The following is an excerpt of an interview that Rooz had with Khadijeh Moghadam, a member of the Committee of Mothers for Peace and an active member of the Grieving Mothers.” …


  8. Free Iranian Human Rights Activist Nasrin Sotoudeh

    For more than 100 days, criminal defense attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh has been imprisoned in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison for “security offenses.” In Iran, representing a Nobel Prize-winning human rights activist (Shirin Ebadi) and belonging to a human rights center are grave security offenses worthy of solitary confinement…


    Iranian Opposition Leader Karrubi Ready to Stand Trial

    “I completely welcome this trial… However, I have a request. The court should be open so the people, who are the true owners of the country, can listen to both parties and make their own judgment.”

    …Dozens of people died and many hundreds disappeared or were rounded up when government forces suppressed postelection protests…


  9. Dorsa Sobhani, Campaign Activist, Sentenced to One Year Prison Term


    Karrubi throws down gauntlet to Iranian government

    “Iran’s most defiant opposition leader has challenged his government to try him in an open court for the momentous unrest that swept the Islamic republic after the “stolen” presidential elections in 2009…”


    One Million Signature Campaign

    “One Million Signatures for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws… also known as Change for Equality, is a campaign by women in Iran to collect one million signatures in support of changing discriminatory laws against women in their country.

    Activists of the movement have been attacked and jailed by the government, and the campaign has had to extend its two year target to collect the full number of signatures…”


    *** http://www.we-change.org/english/ ***


  10. Law Society calls on Iran to release prominent human rights lawyer

    Nasrin Sotoudeh, mother of two and defender of juveniles facing death penalty, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison


    ABA president condemns unfair trial and sentencing of Iranian human rights lawyer Sotoudeh


    Iranian opposition activists hanged for protest footage

    Iranian authorities have hanged two men convicted of taking part in protests following the disputed presidential election in 2009.


    IMPRISONED — Nasrin Sotoudeh: A Mother, A Lawyer, An Activist…


  11. The riskiest job in Iran (important Guardian news story)

    As the regime targets lawyers like Nasrin Sotoudeh, who will defend our rights now?


    “Not so long ago, my colleague Nasrin Sotoudeh was the lawyer so many of us human rights defenders in Iran would call when our government harassed us or put one of us, or one of our family members, in jail. Sadly it is now Nasrin who is in jail. The government’s accusations against her include acting contrary to “national security”, “propaganda against the state”, and “membership” of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, an organisation I founded in 2001. The government has also accused her of failing to wear hijab, the traditional Islamic covering for women. On some of these trumped-up charges she has been sentenced to 11 years in jail, and is now banned from practising law for 20 years.

    This courageous 45-year-old mother of two young children is one of many in Iran who are targeted – and punished – for speaking up for the rights of others. Women are all too frequently on the receiving end of the Iranian regime’s wrath – as we know from the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to be stoned to death for allegedly committing adultery. But what makes Nasrin’s case especially poignant is that it raises a fundamental question about Iran’s future. If the people who come to the defence of people whose human rights are violated cannot do their jobs, who will ensure that such values as equality and justice are upheld in Iran? …”

    Interested readers might also want to check out the older post linked below on Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, especially the comments numbered 5, 6, 8, 18, 19, 39, 45, 46, and 49:

    Urgent Petition To Save Sakineh

  12. Iranian Dissidents Outraged at Death of Female Activist, While Others Faces Charges


    In this case, foxnews coverage seems better…

    Britain asks Iran to investigate death of women’s rights activist Haleh Sahabi


    State Department: Iranian activist’s death due to ‘reprehensible actions’ of security forces


    U.S. demands answers in death of Iranian dissident


  13. Iran’s Lawyers Who Need Lawyers

    The arrest of Abdolfattah Soltani is only the latest instance of a disturbing trend.

    “…Mr. Soltani’s arrest is only the latest in a disturbing trend. In the last several months, dozens of Iranian lawyers have been detained or imprisoned. Mohammad Mostafaei, who has defended dozens of clients from death sentences, fled Iran last year. He had been defending Sakineh Ashtiani, the woman who had been sentenced to death by stoning until an international outcry secured her a stay of execution. For his troubles, Mr. Mostafaei and his family had been detained and harassed, until he finally left the country in August 2010. His replacement, Houtan Kian, did not escape and is now in prison. Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer for human-rights activists and prominent journalists, has been in jail for more than a year.

    Ms. Sotoudeh and Messrs. Soltani, Mostafaei and Kian are in a company of braves. Despite the government’s intense crackdown, Iranian human-rights lawyers regularly defend ethnic and religious minorities, women’s-rights promoters and civil-rights campaigners—always against the odds and often at tragic personal cost.

    Iran’s government is a party to international covenants on human rights. But by snatching away one of the last defenses for Iranian activists, the authorities clearly want to smother any calls for them to abide by their obligations…”


    Interested readers may also wish also to check out:


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