Teach-In (3)

Story By: Kimia Nikseresht

As an immigrant, as a follower of Islam, and as a woman, I have turned to Iris time and time again to tell my story. It may be a bit more complicated at times, but it’s not too different from yours – a journey of challenges and victories, self-exploration and set-backs, love and heartbreak, and lots and lots of laughter.

This week, though, laughter has not been an option. On the 27th of January, President Trump issued an executive order (full text here) that could have been summarized with a simple “f*** you, you muslim idiots” tweet. Here’s what the executive order did, in its most basic form: stopped all refugee admittance into the United States for 120 days, prohibited any non-US citizen born in any of the specified seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) from entering the country (regardless of their immigration status) for 90 days, and said “nah bitch” to Syrian refugees – the millions of Syrian families who are desperately searching for safety and shelter – hoping to enter the United States indefinitely. And here’s the best part: Charles Kurzman, professor at UNC Chapel Hill and an expert in Islamic Fundamentalism reminds us that “there have been zero fatalities in the U.S. by extremists from the countries on Trump’s list”.

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After reading Iris intern Taylor Lamb’s piece “The F Word,” [hyperlinked] U.K. resident Ash Moylan was moved from across the pond to submit her own story of feminist awakening. While we usually only publish the work of University of Virginia students, we thought now might be a great time to highlight a voice of global solidarity. So cheers to Ash Moylan, who has a degree in “Gender Politics,” works as a “lecture helper” in Carlisle, Cumbria, UK, drives a Fiat Panda (stick), and who is a self-described “ballsy blonde with sassy senses and a dangerous degree!”

Story By: Ash Moylan

“YOU CAN’T GO THROUGH THERE” – you haven’t got the necessary equipment,” a farmer told me when I tried to enter a tent marked “Washroom B”.

I was 8, camping with my school, and I’d assumed that the “B” distinguished it from “Washroom A”.

But no, “B” apparently stood for Boys, and I had to enter a different building entirely, and forsake the camping experience!

“The necessary equipment”? Did men really talk like that in the outside world?

I mean, I knew what he meant (this was 2002 and I had  a male cousin who peed wherever and whenever the urge took him), but I was understandably crushed.

Until I got home and told my 13 year-old female cousin, and asked her why men felt a need to run us down like that.

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The power of language following the Women’s March and the Inauguration

Story By: Pinky Hossain

Language – for better or for worse – shapes our thinking, our activism, and our view of America. We saw this firsthand over the weekend in the wonderful posters displayed and the chants uttered at the monumental Women’s March in Washington. Some of my favorite posters included “this some bullshit,” the forever-relevant Beyoncé lyrics “Who Run the World? Girls” and, of course, “we shall overcomb.” I mean, it just does so much at once, you know?


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The posters reminded me not only of how powerful language is, but also of how powerful the written word is. The atmosphere at the march was tense, but nonviolent. We fought with writing, we fought with words, with language. At one point during the protest, I witnessed two men holding large signs proclaiming “It is not too late to repent your sins” and other hateful religious babble. Another man stood in front of them with his pink sign claiming, “I love Jesus, but I make him wear a condom.” It was beautifully silent, nonviolent, but also impactful. Unashamed, unabashedly uncensored, the pussy grabbed back.

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“Oh, You Marched? Good for You, Honey”

Story By: Kimia Nikseresht

20 January, 2017.

Normal day.

21 January, 2017.

8 AM: Standing on the crowded Metro, heading into Washington D.C. One woman walking up and down the Metro with her “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” hat. It’s too damn early for this shit.

10 AM: An air of empowerment has taken over. Excitement. Inspiration. How are people so freaking creative? These signs are mind-blowing. Speakers saying important things. I’m making history.

1 PM: Now I’m thinking. As the next speaker’s message resonates with those of the 8 speakers before her, I’m thinking about what this means. The first all-inclusive women’s movement in America. Immigrants welcome, and leading the charge. Muslim women, Black women, Latina women, LGBTQ women, middle-class White women… all are standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Peaceful and respectful.

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Story By: Kimia Nikseresht

You know that feeling when your heart drops, your hands start shaking, and the whole world seems to disappear as you try to read that blurry “we need to talk” text through your uncontrollable tears? It might be due to the lack of oxygen, because you’re already crying so hard you physically can’t breathe through your runny snotty nose, or it might be that your body knows what your brain doesn’t want to accept yet – you’re about to get dumped.

At this point it doesn’t matter if you met this guy a week ago, or if you’ve been in love with him for an eternity. It’s a shitty feeling. Now imagine if you were finally dating your dream guy, the guy that you have literally dreamed up a future with, beautiful babies and coordinated cars included, and it’s that much worst. You suddenly find yourself talking to the mirror trying to explain to yourself that your best friend wants to be just your best friend, and the romantic trip to Maine is not going to happen. He might have memorized your mom’s number, but he’s not going to use it anytime soon. And you might have exchanged a trillion pictures of Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade (because let’s be honest, they’re #CoupleGoals) but that’s them and you’re you and they’re not the same thing.

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