Women in Iran struggle to rebel against their prescribed roles and break the power of authority controlling them. In Marjane Satrapi’s Novel, Persepolis, Marjane behind the veil, illustrates how even though women had permanent roles, they fought to break the roles that they are automatically associated with like Marjane’s mother broke the role of being a silent mother. The Veil is a catalyst that challenged the young Marji and the older Marji. When Marji was little, she wanted to break the bubble she felt her parents were creating for her and wanted to spread the reality of the truth for her neighbors. Marji, as a kid, did not believe the harsh facts should be censored. Even when it came to breaking her friend’s heart, she still made sure to tell her friend that his “father is a murderer” (Marjane 46).
Marji felt the pain of being censored by her parents and she thought by helping others break their censored life, she would be helping them out. Instead of Marji repressing reality of the revolution, she tries to fix them and make the best of it. Moreover, Marji’s family laugh at her because when Marji’s father comes home from the hospital, he reports the people surrounding a young man on a stretcher and “honored him like a martyr” (Marjane 31).
In reality, the man just had cancer. Marji’s family sees it funny that even though the man did not die for his religious beliefs, it was funny that people were still calling him a martyr. Additionally, Marji’s family sees the humor of natural deaths getting tied up with the revolution.
For Marji, it’s more confusion when she tells her grandma “If I die now I will at least be a Martyr” (Marjane 32). Marji does not see the gray areas of the revolution, yet Marji sees everything as right or wrong similar to the revolutionaries. When Marji read The Reasons for The Revolution, she feels guilty that she has better privileges than her maid Mehri. Marji wants to help out Mehri and help Mehri in her romantic pursuits.differences in social class as being fair and helped out her maid. Marji wanted to help Mehri write a letter to her crush next door.
After 6 months, her dad stopped her and instilled the fact that “their love was impossible” (Marjane 37). The father implied that no matter how long Marji helped Mehri to write those letters, the relationship was never going to work out. Marji grew up in an environment where social class is a priority over kindness and loyalty. When Marji matured, she did not care about the rules being forced upon her.
When her parents went to Turkey, she was illuminated by the clothes and shoes her parents got her. Even though she still wore the veil, she saw her denim jacket and Nike shoes as a way to beat the authority that is controlling her. Marji did not care about the level of disrespect she was portraying. The Guardians of the revolution, a group of women that were in charge of arresting women who were improperly veiled, screamed: “lower your scarf, you little whore” (Marjane 133). Not only was Marji’s veil was alerting to the guardians, but also the fact that saw her shoes being Punk shoes. Marji was not going to let the guardians ruin her excitement over her new clothes and shoes.
Even with the excuse of being on the basketball team was not going to let Marji get away with her new clothes. Marji had no choice but to scream “my mom will make my father put me in an orphanage” (Marjane 134). For years Marji has been dealing with repression from basic clothes and getting involved with going to the rallies on the street. She was not going to let any other useless authority figure crawl over her demanding her to get rid of stuff that does not impact the revolution. The role of the neighbors is to provide an obstacle for Marjane to overcome. While Marjane is buying jeans she hears the sounds similar to closed air full garbage bags being popped. There was a bombing at the end of the street where Marjane lives.
Unfortunately, not only does Marjane live there, but also the Baba-Levy family. Although Marjane can be lucky that the bomb did not hit her house, she is awfully concerned about the Baba-Levy’s home. As much as Marjane tries to sugar coat the disaster for herself by asking her mom “at least they weren’t home” (Marjane 141). Marjane’s mother tried to change the topic as best as she can. Even though Marjane went through a significant amount of emotionally devastating events, she continues to face more disasters. Marjane sees the turquoise bracelet that belonged to her friend Neda. There are so many houses on her street, yet her friend’s house was the one bombed.
Marjane is encouraged to open her eyes to enjoy life before her life is destroyed faster than a blink of an eye just like her friend’s life was. After Marjane and her friends get busted from partying, all her friends go to her house to rebel. Marjane was lucky that the Guardians of the Revolution did not arrest her for partying and not wearing her veil.
Furthermore, Marjane takes advantage and has another party with her friends. Marjane partied till the point “she never drank so much in her life” (Marjane 311). Although in Western culture expectations of gender have changed, there are still gender expectations that exist within Western cultures. Women are still expected to be the caregivers, soft, and weak while Men are expected to be strong and powerful. Instead of families letting their children pick what they want to play with, “they give girls baby dolls to play with to enhance maternal and caring feelings and give boys sporting equipment which emphasizes feelings of power, aggressiveness, and leadership” (Moet 1). Children associating themselves with these activities foreshadows what their future holds for them. These early gender preparations influence the children’s understanding to strongly develop that role.
These traits become robotic to children and influence the ‘normal’ gender identity for a particular sex and how to behave as a male or a female. Educationally, Western culture engages in believing that boys are better at math. Western society places a heading on women that their educational values are being a wife and mother which deemphasize their intellectual abilities. Unfortunately, young women engaging in getting an education feel turned down because they fall into the trap of believing boys are better at math than girls which causes them to achieve lower math scores. The discouragement does not come from “boys are better than girls at math but because boys think they are better at math” (Davis 3). Young women are beginning to question whether they have the ability to engage in a field where men seem to be taking over.
Additionally, In western culture, they do not expect women to cover up. Surprisingly, western culture looks badly upon Islam when it comes to fashion because they see these practices of wearing the veil as the “principal reason for the general backwardness of Muslim” (Ahmad 2). Islam is oppressive to women. The veil enhances how Islam is oppressive to women. Moreover, western culture sees wearing the veil as a “symbol of oppressing women” (Ahmad 3). Women in Iran are managing and owning businesses, yet Iran cannot get rid of one simple rule of wearing the veil. Relating to Marjane, she can go to school and get an education, yet she has to wear a veil thats longer than the one she’s been wearing which will get in the way of her artistic performance.
The veils are seeking to stop women from becoming more successful than men. Marjane could not endure the fact that men had the easier way out when it comes to fashion. It’s seen as women are fashionably going backward while men are moving forwards. Marjane fights her teachers about the fact that she denies wearing a longer headscarf because it will get in the way of her “being able to move freely and will make the task even more difficult” (Marjane 297). Marjane is not going to let the rules of wearing a longer headscarf get in the way of her being able to move freely while drawing. Marjane’s school administration does not hesitate to comment on the slightest inch being off on a student’s veil, but will not bother the men who all have different “shapes and sizes of haircuts and clothes” (Marjane 297). Women In Iran are still battling with schools to remove the policy of the veil.
Muslim women in Iran continue to go through emotional and physical harm from insults to violence in order to wear the veil. In fact, men view Muslim women without wearing a veil as a “whore and disrespect to the Koran” (Weil 1). Marjane questioned the rights of her appearance in an educational setting because it is the time that she stopped the bogus of the headscarf and save the generations of young educational women from wearing them. While men and women work in western culture, Prior to the revolution, In Iran, men and women are required to show what’s expected of them in public. For example, women always have to show modesty with wearing the veil while men work.
Women always stayed home and took care of the children and household while the men worked and brought home the money showing dominance. However, similarly to Western culture, after the revolution, the role of women took a positive outturn. Women were “enrolling into universities and becoming elected to be in the parliament” (Khaz 1). As the role of women advanced, more than 80% of women got accepted into universities and higher education institutions.
Surprisingly, the percentage amongst men fell during the same period by more than 38%. Furthermore, the Iranian Constitution states that “Every individual has the right to select the work they wish to engage in” ( Khaz 28)”. In addition to women being involved in education, women are not only going to universities but also “managing and owning business” (Guttman 1). Iranian women have taken a step up in their careers and have gotten involved in dominant industries such as construction and technology. Even though women in Iran still wear the veil, they have an unlimited number of educational opportunities without any restrictions of the veil or authority getting in their way. Marjane not only had a significant influence on herself but also her mother.
Marjane’s mother is outcasted by her husband. In the beginning of the book, it is rare that the mom has any say in what Marjane can and cannot do. Marjane’s mother was emotionally trapped by her husband. Marjane’s mom did not work while her husband worked.
Marji is excited to go participate in the revolution. When she asks her mom to go, the dad, frustratedly, says “come on, you’re going to bed now” (Marjane 17). Even though the question was directed at her mom, the father still interrupts the mom and takes charge. Marjane’s mother feels overpowered by her husband because she feels like she can not say anything because he works and she does not. Today in Iran, women feel like they can not get married or feel regret towards pursuing a career because they know “men do not want their wives to work because they feel that if they bring money home then they will not obey or respect them” (Kurzman 5). Educated Iranian women know that men have low-self esteem otherwise, they would not feel uncomfortable and belittled if their wives brought money home.
When Marji sees her mom after going away to school, she is shocked to see her mom rebelling out of her quiet self. While Marji and her mom have a conversation over tea, her mom points out “especially with a cigarette do you want one?” (Marjane 249). Marjane’s mom does not wait to get an approval from her husband to smoke instead, she just goes for her desires.
Marjane’s mom wants to show her daughter that females can be dominating even during a time where everybody is trying to diminish every female aspect of them. Marjane’s mom even smokes with her while talking about Marjane’s love dilemma. Similar to Iran today, Iran has attempted to restrict women’s aspirations to the domestic sphere, however, in “2001, more women were pursuing bachelor’s degrees than men” (Kurzman 1). Unfortunately, the laws of the Islamic Republic grant husbands the power to veto their wives’ ability to leave home, work, and travel abroad. Even though Iran grants the husbands more power over their wives, women continue to fearlessly work.
A 33-year-old woman, an accountant, feels secured to have a good job and have, “no intention of getting married”(Kurzman 4). Women in Iran are engaging in decisions that they are independently making. To Iranian women having a career is golden compared to living a domestic life with their husbands. Marjane’s mom and the women in Iran today demonstrate that no rules or war can get in the way of their cravings. If Marjane and her mother want to smoke they will do it. If women want to be highly educated in Iran they will pursue it. Marjane’s grandmother is always there for Marjane.
No matter what Marjane is going through she feels comfortable to talk to her grandmother. Marjane always has a lesson or advice for Marjane whenever she tells her problems or accomplishments to her. Marjane’s husband thinks it’s no big deal that their project got rejected from city hall. While it was not a big deal for Reza, Marjane is the one that put in all the effort and listened to the Mayor straight up tell her that “her project is unachievable” (Marjane 331). When Marjane tells her grandma that she wants a divorce, her grandmother walks her step by step about how there’s “no take your time, and think about it, and the day you do not want him you leave him” (Marjane 333). Furthermore, Marjane wanted to show Reza that she can be more elegant than he could imagine. When she showed up to the Bazaar, she sees the Guardians of the Revolution which was a problem because Marjane was wearing bright lipstick.
Marjane takes an innocent man sitting on the steps and unexpected surprises him. Marjane claims the man sitting on the steps said something “indecent to her” (Marjane 285). Marjane was so proud of herself for getting out of the situation without her dignity being involved that she had to tell her Grandmother. Unfortunately, her grandmother saw Marjane’s action as her being a “selfish bitch” (Marjane 291). Instead of her grandmother being proud of her, she jumps to conclusions that all the men in their family fought for defending innocent people while Marjane goes and playfully blames the innocent. Marjane’s grandma teaches her that defending ourselves while impacting the lives of innocent people is not right. Marjane’s grandmother values integrity and loyalty which is characteristics she was taught to not make a priority from her father.
Iran is very strict when two people of opposite or same gender walk together on the streets. During the revolution it was dangerous for “young couples to show themselves in public” (Marjane 288). If the two people were walking down and they were married it was no big deal, however, the guardians would pull over two people that did not automatically show that they were married. For example, if a woman and man are walking and they do not have proof that they are married, they get verbally attacked by the guardians of the revolution. Moreover, if two people of the same gender were walking together, that would create extra suspicion for the guardians. When Marjane’s husband’s friends, Darius and Nader were coming home from a late night party they told the guardians that they “go out together” (Marjane 289). Before the guardians ask questions, he just covers the man’s mouth and refers to them as dirty faggs. Marjane and her husband carried around their marriage certificate to be safe.
Similarly, to Iran today, a relationship with the same gender is forbidden. Mohammad Khordadian, a famous Los Angeles based Iranian-American male struggled with Iran’s acceptance of him being gay. He was “denied a visa to leave Iran for 10 years” ( Papan-Matin 1).
With all the obstacles the women in Persepolis faced, they all diligently managed to rebel against the roles they were ascribed to.