Ever since we can remember there have been inequalities found within societies, specifically between men and women. The United States has come a long way in terms of administering equal rights to females, but that only makes me grateful that I didn’t have to live in the past, because we are not even close to being treated as competent members of society. The effect of the pressures instilled by the media on young American girls is represented well in the 2011 documentary “Miss Representation,” directed and produced by Jennifer Siebel. But this isn’t the only place, nor is this the first time women have been suppressed on this earth. In the country of Iran, 7,000 miles away from the United States, women are also being influenced and restricted by their media and government. The laws and restrictions were much worse during the time of the Iranian Revolution (1978-1979). In the graphic novel, Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi the reader shadows the life of an independent young girl, Marjane in her early years, trying to break away from the gender roles found in her society. The oppression of women (or men) in any society will negatively affect half of a country’s population by limiting their freedom and opportunities.
In Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, one can learn about how it was like to live in Iran during the Revolution of 1979. But before one can fully understand Persepolis, they must understand the condition of Iran in the 20th century. Before the Iranian Revolution, the type of government was a monarchy, but after the Shah was taken out of power, an Islamic republic was set in place. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was the one who started the revolution after he realized how corrupt the government was. The causes for the revolution include the country’s discontent with the Shah’s rule, the exile of Ayatollah Khomeini, and social injustice. The people used demonstrations, strikes, and civil resistance as methods to overthrow the Pahlavi dynasty. The women living in Iran during this time led a very different lifestyle than women in the United States. They had many rules to follow, like having to wear a veil or chador (full length garments) because “Women’s hair emanates rays that excite men” (Satrapi, 74), no nail polish or makeup, no sneakers or running, no listening to western music or participating in anything influenced by the west, married women need permission from their husbands before they are able to leave home, and they are restricted from gaining any type of high power government position. It is clear to see that men in Iran have much more power than women. Even according to the Iranian constitution, a woman’s life is only worth half of a man’s and punishment for crime was severely worse for women than men. Inequality has a deep affect on the people living within it. This proves true in Persepolis, as the reader personally witnesses Marjane struggle to break free from these gender roles. All of the women in the graphic novel played a certain role to show the reader something about women living in Iran during this time. For example, Marji’s mother’s role was to protect Marji and make sure she was well off. Marjane was always very independent, as she was raised to value her education and self- worth, but being a child, she didn’t fully understand the danger she could easily put herself into. After talking back to a school teacher and receiving a phone call home, her mother explained, “You know what they do to the young girls they arrest? You know that it’s against the law to kill a virgin… So a guardian of the revolution marries her… and then takes her virginity before executing her. Do you understand what that means??? If someone so much as touches a hair on your head, I’ll kill him!” (Satrapi, 145). Women could get into this kind of danger from doing things that women in the United States wouldn’t think twice about doing: like letting hair show or being dressed inappropriately. In my...
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