“We Are Not Men”

A Persian rap song entitled “We Are Not Men” [Ma mard nistim] which was first aired on youtube on May 1, 2008, has generated an unprecedented level of interest among Persian language speakers. The lyrics were written by Shahin Najafi, a 27 year old man who has studied sociology in Iran and has also worked with underground music groups inside Iran. Najafi emigrated to Germany three years ago. The song has been performed by the rap group Tapesh 2012, a German-Iranian group under the directorship of Omid Pooryusefi, which is famous in Germany.

According to Najafi likes rap because it allows him to depict social issues. Najafi has told Ghahari that “men have come to the conclusion that they have to believe in women. Men in less developed countries will also reach this point. It is no longer enough to say: ‘We will allow women to take charge.’ Women have taken charge and are doing things.” Najafi also believes that “Iran’s future will change based on women’s decisions.”

Excerpts of lyrics from the rap song “We Are Not Men”
Written and sung by Shahin Najafi Performed by Tapesh 2012
May 2008
Translation by Frieda

Like the girl with her hymen sewn
And the poor one in the fire thrown

Like my mother’s oppressive lot
Summed up in her kettle and pot

Her body yet unseen
Her unveiling unforeseen

She said after life she would no doubt go to hell
There she would suffer dangling by her hair

I said, isn’t heaven under mothers’ feet?*
Mother, heaven is busy, catch the world you meet

She said the cantor’s prayer makes me shudder
I said fear has become your rudder

Seventy years of womanhood is exploitation
No life but fear and degradation

A woman innocent, her existence was her crime
Transformed, beaten into submission to be made prime

What happens to a woman who hasn’t been cheating
She is the object of fifty years of beating

She has to stay prone and unheard
Not even imagine an uncaged bird

Always the object of a chaperone peeping
A doll, only considered good for sleeping

You smell of whips and smacks
How much longer blackmailed by Toms and Jacks?

Like Iran you have become a tramp
The future is in your hands lady champ

You smell like our land shattered Gone from being flattered to tattered

We were destroyed by our manhood
Please display your womanhood

Take a bit of your valor perfume
Spray it on us with a plume

Ma’am, we’re not men, count us out
Take the banner and lead the crowd

* Reference to a saying attributed to the prophet Muhammad

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