for the Iranian woman who kicked the cleric who told her to cover up


in a place
where it is easier
to force women to hide their bodies
than it is
to expect men to avert their eyes,
what did she show
on the street
to make him ask her to cover herself?
was it the curve of her wrist
sliding seductively into forearm

escaping for a moment
the heat of her sleeve
as she bought oranges

or was it an inch
of her neck, suggesting
in length and grace
more beauty hidden

beneath that coat?

where even looking
is a sin,
& walking on the street
an enticement
she told him to cover his eyes

in a place where to be raped
is to commit adultery
where even showing
the curve of a smile
is seduction
they must sweat, covered in coats
and dark colors under sun.  when she shouted,
when she kicked him, it was for them, the women
obscured and weighted down
so they escape the light brush of eyes
on skin, those women who cannot speak,
who should never be seen,
who lower their heads
and walk quickly


About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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26 Responses to for the Iranian woman who kicked the cleric who told her to cover up

  1. boomiebol says:

    What can I say!?! You got the message across #BAM!!!

  2. Green Speck says:

    A strong message !!!

  3. George Ellington says:

    Thank you for this, Susan. As a very moderate Muslim, I have found it easier these days to stay out of such arguments, knowing that my views will contradict the conservative establishment. What angers me about this particular issue is that our holy book, the Qur’an, makes it clear that both women AND men should be modest in their dress and in their behavior, and it repulses me that again and again Muslim men excuse their own behavior–however reprehensible their behavior may be–by pointing the finger at a woman. If a man becomes distracted, tempted, upset because of a woman’s clothing, a woman’s hair, the flicker of flesh beneath a woman’s sleeve, then it is THAT man who has a problem to resolve, and NOT the woman he is obsessing about. Again, Susan, thank you.

    • George–my pleasure, though I wish I never, ever had to write such things. I am upset, not with the Muslim faith, but with the mindset in places like Iran and Afg that oppress so. As a fundi,I tend to keep my mouth closed too when among people of my faith, because my views are not accepted there, either. Sigh. What you said here was beautifully said.

  4. nelle says:

    As a non-violent person, please forgive me for straying, but… that must have felt damn good.

  5. Karin Wiberg says:

    I am really glad you tackle current events in your poetry, Susan.

    • Thanks, Karin–I kind of have to, when the absurdity hits a certain level, or I wonder what the cleric saw to ask the woman on the street to cover herself better…my muse is sometimes political, and sometimes just chases the bright and shiny things. unpredictable…

  6. Rhonda says:

    Here Here and good for her. I shutter to think the repercussions for her, but the time has come for such bravery. Nothing will change until the women stand up, hard as it will be, impossible perhaps, but they must do this for themselves. Brilliant Susan.

  7. Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

    in a place
    where it is easier
    to force women to hide their bodies
    than it is
    to expect men to avert their eyes,

    This is a gripping introduction that says so much. It sets the tone of the poem perfectly, in my opinion. You really say this perfectly.

  8. Being female can be tough and rough!

    • …being human is of itself rough enough and tough enough for all of us–but still we insist on drawing lines to make it tougher still; based on gender, based on race, based on so many many things that in the final analysis are simply artificial divisions. OK, off soapbox now.

  9. Excellent ass kicking, Susan!

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