More Than a Veil

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More Than a Veil A Feminist Readings of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis Cultural differences have been on the foreground of the ongoing struggle between the United States and Iran since the 1970’s. Stereotypes are built on misunderstandings which can prove costly in international relationships. Our national media coverage of Iran portrays radical Islamic men oppressing their female counterparts. Many American citizens have narrow opinions on Iranian women, most of them dealing with the infamous veil that Islamic girls wear females. Marjane Satrapi in her biographical novel Persepolis examines Iranian women’s roles in the Islamic Revolution, breaks the myth of the oppressing veil, and demonstrates how Iranian boys and girls are socially constructed. Satrapi does all of this with a nontraditional writing style as she challenges the more common coming of manhood tale called a Bildungsroman (Barry p.129) with her own coming of womanhood narrative. In America it is widely believed that women in Iran are to be seen and not heard. That Iran is controlled by an extreme patriarchy where women voice no opinions on social issues. However, we see in Persepolis that Marjane comes from a family with strong women like her mother and grandmother. Her mother routinely takes part in protesting alongside her husband in the streets of Tehran.(Satrapi p.18) Marjane’s mother is an example of the misconception that women in Iran are subjects. Marjane’s mother illustrates to us how women all across Iran were active during the Islamic Revolution, as protestors, collaborators, or victims. (Botshon p.5) Agency is not just shown in adult women in Persepolis but also in adolescent girls.

Many Americans are quick to point out the veil which covers an Islamic women’s face as a sign of the extreme patriarchy in Iran. However, in the beginning of Persepolis we see Marjane as a child and other little girls taking their veils off at school to use them for games like jump rope. (Satrapi p.3) This...
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