It is a new year, 2023 and with it, some truly concerning elements. One of the most all consuming is that of the persistent and continual attack on women, communities of color, non-Christian communities, and the queer community.
One of my last FAR posts talked about the situations, uprising, and horrible killings done by the Iranian Fundamentalist regime. The protests are still happening, more people are being arrested, and the death toll has continued to rise. We have also seen the death of the longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, and the surprised resignation of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
As of January, the Iranian Regime has publicly executed 4 men. 16 more have been sentenced to death and over 517 have been killed during protests or during imprisonment. Human Rights Activists in Iran are reported that over 19,000 have been arrested. Iranian people are still being denied access to resources, internet, and fair and safe treatment by their government. And the fanatical zealot extremism found in the Iranian Regime is not the only one in the global arena.
Afghanistan, in the months following the Taliban’s resurgence and control, has seen an enormous amount of laws, regulations, and policies that are directly impacting women. The new laws have made it illegal for women to work for the government, attend college, they are no longer allowed to be outside without a male chaperone, they are not allowed to be treated by a male doctor, and if has even gotten to the point where faces on posters, artwork, and mannequins are mandatorily covered as it is deemed to improper to be seen.
The government has instigated stricter clothing restrictions for women, restricted travel, and even specific cell phones. All of these restrictions, especially that of denying education goes against Quranic teachings and how the Prophet Muhammad himself lived.
And yes, it does seem like Western media really does like to focus on extremist, Islamic regimes that are creating harsh living conditions for its people, not just in a delivery of the news but in a way to diminish what is happening in the West. America, also is struggling with how it treats its women, minorities, non-Christian, and queer communities. Women are also facing incredible struggles, governmental policies, and systemic forms of oppression.
And what is even more alarming is that at the forefront of the majority of these horrific and outdated policies and practices are white women. It was a white, republican Missouri state representative Ann Kelley that brought forth a Female Dress Code Bill to the State government of Missouri. In a 105-51 vote, the new policy says: “Proper attire for women shall be business attire, including jackets worn with dresses, skirts, or slacks, and dress shoes or boots. For the purposes of this rule, ‘jacket’ shall include blazers, cardigans, and knit blazers.” Basically put, women can not show their bare arms even if the top is “business attire”. In a state that is public school systems are struggling to make budgets, over 1,000 foster care children have gone missing in a two and a half year period, and was one of the first states that had a trigger law in place with the overturning of Roe. Vs Wade that has seen countless women’s lives put into jeopardy as medial professions are being restricted to even perform life saving care.
And it is not stopping in Missouri. The newly appointed Governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders (another white woman) in her inauguration speech pointed to her intent to ‘stop indoctrination of children’ by removing “critical race theory’ from schools, remove materials that are deemed CRT, inappropriate, and anything which supports placing ‘race’ as a delineation category. She has signed an order to remove the term “Latinx” from all forms of government use. A term which is a gender-neutral name that according to Pew Research only about 3% of the Hispanic community uses. Arkansas’s 2023 demographic did not even register a Hispanic population, without about 6% being of mixed or ‘other’ race.
Texas and Florida continue to pass legislation, policy, and procedures which target the queer community. This nation is still reeling after the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, and states have readily taking upon themselves not just to restrict abortion but comprehensive health care for women and the queer community. House Representatives Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Green have continued to wreak havoc in the Federal government – both intrinsically involved in the prolonged delay in voting in Kevin McCarthy as the Republican Speaker of the House. Bigot and seditionist Marjorie Taylor Green (MTG), was removed from all her appointed committee positions during her first term due to her security threats, her role in the January 6th insurrection, her continual QAnon ties, her white supremacist/neo-Nazi connection, her very vocal Anti-Semitic rhetoric, and her die hard support of Twice Impeached Donald Trump. MTG has been appointed this past week to the House Homeland Security Committee alongside 4 other Republican House Representatives that are highly problematic.
There are times when it seems like it is two steps forward and three steps back. But I also know that the worst thing to do is to completely do nothing, to stop talking about the injustices, to stop connecting with others, and to finding ways to continue making steps forward. We need to continue to press on, to rage on, and to speak out when we see/experience/witness injustices even if it is done but fellow members of any of our communities.
I end this post with a young woman’s song that she wrote after she heard about the Afghani female education ban
Anjeanette LeBoeuf is will continue to speak out against injustices she sees, experiences, and witnesses. Anjeanette is currently the World Religions Professor at Saint Louis University. She continues to be the Queer Advocate for the Western Region of the American Academy of Religion. She has also recently helped to set up and is the current Chair of the Disabilities Studies Unit for the Western Region. Her focuses are divided between South Asian religions and religion and popular culture. One of the main themes in Anjeanette’s work is seeking out representations of women and queer people in all forms of popular culture and how religion plays into them.