I've mentioned before the way I've seen women treated in Istanbul and I've recently endured the company of some unimaginably base, sexist men (both local and international). Obsessed with sex and porn and unable to have a conversation about anything else, even when they were trying to bed someone (who, if they found out was in a relationship, they would simply stop talking to and walk away from). They reduced my finely-honed feminist arguments to, "What are you saying? Shut up! Fuck off!"
I was glad to get away from them and read feministing, notably the posts on the use of sex to sell the film Black Snake Moan and the deodorant Axe (particularly disturbing in Black Snake Moan as it depends upon a victim of sexual abuse) and to find Sand gets in my Eyes, where I found out there was such a thing as "virginity soap".
Sadly International Women's Day hasn't yet become a mere celebration or quaint pastime: just one example is the situation in Iran. (For deeper historical background, there is "a brief history of women's movements in Iran, 1850-2000".)
One of many Iranians for human rights and democracy, Sheernejad explained that,
women Activists that were standing in solidarity with fellow collegues that were standing trial for organizing an "unauthorized" demonstration in June 2006, were arrested.Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Golnaz Esfandiari reported that,
The arrests are the culmination of a year of increasing pressure on women's rights activists, who have been arrested, summoned to court, threatened, and harassed. Their protests have also been disrupted - in some cases violently - and their websites have been blocked.(There is an online petition to "free women's rights defenders in Iran".)
Just last year, "cries for change" were answered with violence:
Approximately 1,000 women had gathered in Park Daneshjoo on the occasion of the International Women's Day to emphasize their stance in support of women's human rights and peace. The ceremony which started at 4:00 pm, and was scheduled to last one hour, was charged by security forces shortly after it began, who relentlessly beat the protesters, in an effort to disperse the group....We can only hope that this is not repeated this International Women's Day.
Ten minutes into the protest, after security forces had managed to fully film and photograph the protesters for follow-up and interrogations at a later time, the women were asked to disperse, on the grounds that their assembly was illegal and did not have a permit. At this point, the protesters started singing the anthem of the women's movement, which again calls for changes in their human rights status.
At 4:20 the final statement of the sit in was read, during which the security forces dumped cans of garbage on the heads of women who were seated in an effort to prevent easy dispersal. The security forces then charged the group and began beating the protesters. Even after the protesters had dispersed many were followed by the security forces and beaten. Some of the female protesters were beaten repeatedly with batons, and some male protesters were beaten severely by security forces who administered the beatings in teams....
While the Iranian constitutions allows for peaceful gatherings without permit, the government requests a permit for public gatherings. Women's rights groups have been repeatedly denied requests to hold public gatherings, and so they have chosen to exercise their rights of assembly in organizing peaceful gatherings without obtaining permits.