Societyconstructs and interprets perceived differences among humans and gives us”feminine” and “masculine” people. For a girl, you might have heard someone sayto you, “that’s not lady like,” or “only boys can do that.” Have you ever justwanted to yell back at them, saying “who cares?” What those people don’t knowthat gender is embedded in culture and the various forms of knowledgeassociated with any given community. “Feminine” and “masculine” may have adifferent meaning in one culture than the other.
People growing up in differentsocieties and different parts of the world throughout times of history mayperform different gender expressions. For instance, Marjane Satrapi, who wrotea graphic novel about her life from when she was 10 years old to earlyadulthood. Throughout the novel, Marjane explains that she went through lifewith people telling her how to live and how to act. She tries to live a lifefull of freedom and adventures even when people are looking or talking aboutwhat she is doing.
In today’s society, we are told what to do with our livesevery day. Imagine having someone tell you what things you can and cannot beattracted to. From the day we are born, we are growing up around the norms ofmale and female. If you are born as a female, your parents may receive giftsthat are mainly pink with princess references. If you are born a male, yourparents may receive gifts that are mainly blue with super hero references. Weteach children to follow these rules in order to fit in and be like everyoneelse. In a way, we are being like the Shah from Persepolis. He is the king thatmakes up laws and regimes for people to follow and if they don’t then they willbe punished for their actions.
We need to teach children that it is okay to beattracted to things that aren’t the norm. We are born with a Gender assignmentthat determines male or female by our physical body type. Gender Identity thenconcerns how one feels internally about one’s own gender. If a woman wants toact and dress like a man then she is expressing Gender Expression.
This allcomes into play with Persepolis because Marjane is a young girl growing up andtrying to find herself and is taught that she must obey laws about covering herbody and act a certain way in order to please men. However, Marjane is not yourtypical “girly girl,” she expresses that she is in a way more like a “tomboy.”Her parents allowed her to grow up any way she wanted to and I think that thishelped Marjane really try to find her true self by the end of the novel. Societytries to control how you act and what you do by state, religion, and school.
(Shaw) During this course, we learned aboutGender Socialization which is the process of learning the social expectationsand attitudes associated with one’s sex (Chegg). In the beginning of Marjane’schildhood, 1979 a revolution took place called The Islamic Revolution. In 1980,it became obligatory to wear a veil at school. However, this veil would be wornonly by women and was very constricting. A lot of the girls in Marjane’s schooldidn’t want to wear it especially because they didn’t understand as to why theyhad to wear it. In the novel, Marjane portrays the veil as dark and looksalmost as heavy.
The first page of the book, there is a picture of four girlsthat are wearing the veil and it almost looks as if the veil is weighing themdown. You can see the sadness in their faces as they are wearing it. As forhaving to wear the veil, the schools also became segregated. Boys and girlscould not attend the same school and this caused children to be torn apart fromtheir friends. Marjane had a lot of issues when it came to being herself inschool. When she told her teacher that she wanted to become a Prophet, theygave her a weird look as if she was crazy.
They ended up calling in Marjane’sparents to question them about their daughter and raise concerns. Marjane’sparents didn’t see this as a problem but when they asked her what she wanted tobe when she was older, instead of saying a Prophet, Marjane said a doctor. (Satrapi) School is a place for education andfor children to be themselves. Marjane felt constricted when it came to schoolbecause they were Gender Socializing her and she would get laughed at and madefun of because of what she believed in. To have to wear the veil at a place ofeducation and learning seemed to be degrading women.
Gender Socialization is teachingyoung women that their body needs to be covered up in order to not distractboys from learning. Marjane and her mother didn’t believe in the veil but hadto wear it for their own protection. If they didn’t obey the rules, then theywould have to face the consequences of being tortured and beaten. Out ofschool, Marjane was at the grocery store with her mother and as they wereleaving, a man came up to Marjane’s mother and told her to fix her veil.Marjane’s mother snapped back and said maybe if you would ask more politely andthe man snapped back with a very offensive and disgusting comment that makeswomen seem that if they don’t cover up then they are considered to be whores.Later in life, Marjane was attending college and getting an art degree.
Duringone of her classes, she was drawing a woman but the woman had to be covered upby her veil. Marjane spoke out at an assembly that was organized to tell thestudents that veils had to be longer and women could not wear makeup. Marjanesaid that since she is an art major it is very hard for her to draw with theweight of the veil before and now that it has to be longer, this will just getin the way more of her and her learning.
Also, in order to practice drawing thehuman body, she needs to be able to draw more than a woman in a veil. A woman shouldn’t have to feel thatif she is showing a little bit of skin, that it is offensive to men. Why dowomen have to live their lives pleasing men? We live in a world where men can’tseem to control themselves and look to making women change for their needsinstead of men changing their actions. By wearing a veil, it representshonoring men that have sacrificed their lives for women in war. Women aretaught to act and dress a certain way so that men won’t act like animals. Laterin the book, Marjane is told multiple times to fix her head scarf by men thatfeel offense to her scarf being a little off. She is stopped by men telling hernot to run anymore because they could see her butt jiggle through her robe.
Marjane then says that maybe they should just stop looking at her. This is verytrue especially when it comes to today’s society and school. Girls are beingsent home from school because their shoulders are showing and their shorts aretoo short. Schools are saying that their body parts are distracting boys fromlearning and affecting their studies. We teach girls to change themselves inorder for boys to live a better life but we never teach boys to treat girlswith respect.
It seems that in Persepolis, men don’t have respect for women andwill treat them like trash while women are covering up and not living freelyfor them. Religion plays a very big role inPersepolis. In the beginning of the novel, Marjane talks about how she wantedto become the Last Prophet. In the novel, you see a section where a group ofmen are saying that having a woman as a Prophet is impossible and not ordinary.Marjane has a strong relationship with God and even talks to him on a dailybasis. Since Marjane wanted to be a Prophet, she made a holy book thatconsisted of rules. It was filled with ideas that she wanted to bring toeveryone’s attention. Marjane wanted to celebrate Zarathustrianism holidays,wanted everyone to have a car, and all maids should eat at the table withothers.
She also believed that old people shouldn’t have to suffer anymore. AllMarjane wanted while growing up was to be justice, love, and the wrath of Godall in one. From a young age, Marjane described herself as deeply religiouswhile her parents were very modern and avant-garde. The Islamic Republic ofIran regulated behaviors on strict religious means and didn’t allow anythingthat seemed to be Western and American. The Satrapi family would findthemselves living behind closed doors and smuggling Western and American ideasand practices into their home.
When they were outside their home, they had toact a different way and seem like they were devoted to religious values definedby the Shah in order not to suffer from the consequences of torture andbeatings. On some cases, it would even lead into execution. With Iran becoming more Religiousunder Islamic Republic, the government would force their religious beliefs andpractices on people who would then start losing their own personal beliefs. Mrs.
Nasarine, the family maid, was concerned about a key that was given to her sonat school. The key was a symbol that boys were told that if they went to wearand they were lucky enough to die, which was very likely, they would need thekey in order for them to get into heaven. The government is using religion as agateway to children to convince them that in order to go into heaven they haveto die in war. Nasarine then explains that she has been faithful to thereligion but now doesn’t know what to believe in anymore. With the IslamicRepublic telling people to believe in this and that, they are starting to losethemselves and what they actually believe in. Marjane’s recent actions of herlashing out at her teacher because before her teacher told her that the kingwas chosen by God and now since the king has been terminated, they must rip outthe king from there textbooks. Marjane’s mother ends up sending her to boardschool in Austria.
When Marjane gets there, she is overwhelmed by the freedomthat women have in Austria. Marjane portrays life in Austria for women to bemuch more free and easier. Women could have relationships with men and be veryopen and public which would’ve been disgraceful in Iran. Marjane begins to growup and mature with the Austrian and Western European influences that she had.She begins to reinvent herself as she begins to lean and enjoy more open-mindedway women are treated. When in Iran, Marjane never had the choice to expressher feelings and thoughts through clothing.
They had to be covered by the veilin public at all times and this didn’t allow much freedom. With wearing a veilthat covers mostly your entire face, you can’t even show people what you looklike under it. You’re not allowed to express your personality in Iran if itdoesn’t meet the expectations of the law. You can see that Marjane is living afuller and more exciting life in Austria but does face some strugglesthroughout. When Marjane was in Iran, shecouldn’t be herself if it wasn’t behind closed doors of her home.
She had agreat personality and was into a fashion look of punk style. Women weren’t evenallowed to wear a lot of makeup because this would again, attract men and makeit hard for men to resist. Marjane emphasizes the lack of freedom that womenhave in Iran and how it’s not far for them to be treated so unfairly. You couldsee in the book that Marjane has a different enclosed personality in Iran butthen when she gets to Austria, it’s like she is truly finding herself andexperimenting in ways that she would get tortured for in Iran. Ever since Marjane was a young girl,she expressed her outlook on religion and how women are treated.
It never saidin the book that Marjane was a feminist but I think that she is in a way andrepresents a lot of traits that express feminism. Before she left from Iran toAustria, her grandmother told her to always be yourself and never forget whereyou came from. Sometimes she would forget about what her grandmother told herand would tell people that she was French. Until, she heard a group of girlstalking about her and how they knew she wasn’t French just by the way shelooks.
She ended up speaking up for herself and said that she was from Iran.She felt proud of herself for being comfortable with her heritage and herself.Marjane found it difficult sometimes to keep going in Austria because of somethings that made her think a different way about life. She ended up meeting aman who seemed to like her and then told her after they tried to have sex thathe might be gay.
He would then tell her that if it didn’t work with her then itwon’t work with any other girl. Marjane didn’t have good luck whenit came to dating because I don’t think she was ever taught about it in Iranand things to look out for. She then started dating another guy who ended up inbed with another girl and Marjane walked in on it. Even though Marjane suffereda lot in Austria, she knew it was better than home. However, she ended upsleeping on the streets and in a hospital where she then called her mother andtold her that she needs to come home. On page 245, as she is putting on herveil getting ready to go back to her home, she says “and so much for myindividual and social liberties…I needed so badly to go home.
” As she is making her journey homewith her veil on her head again, a man makes a comment about her needing to fixit. (Satrapoli 246) She responded with saying, “yes, brother.” Brother andsister are the terms used in Iran by the representatives of the Law to giveorders to people, without offending them. It’s like as soon as she got backhome, she already had a man start telling her what she is doing wrong andtelling her to fix herself. When she got back home she went walking around hertown and noticed all the murals saying that being a martyr is good.
Shecompares it to how in Austria she would just see murals and signs for bestsausages, you really get a feeling of no freedom in Iran. Marjane then beginsto feel like as if she is walking through a cemetery because all the streetnames were changed to names of martyrs.Marjane believes that when somethingis forbidden, it takes on an unequal importance and that people makingthemselves up and wanting to follow western ways was an act of resistance ontheir part.
However, I do believe that in the beginning of the book, Marjanehad to follow these certain regimes in order not to be punished. For her safetyand her parent’s safety, she had to wear the veil, not wear her western clothesoutside of her home, and a lot more restrictions. During this course, we had toread an article called Wrestling withGender by Deborah H. Brake. In February of 2011, a high school boy capturednational media attention when he refused to wrestle a girl at the Iowa Statewrestling championship tournament.
Joel Northrup was paired up against Cassy Herkelman.He decided to forfeit the match rather than wrestle a girl. Girls who stay incontact sports like wrestling, must overcome negative cultural stereotypesassociated with women in the sport and weather a variety of forces thatcoalesce to suppress female sports participation in early adolescence.
Thisarticle connects with Persepolis because men tend to see women as weak and lesserto men. In Iran, women are supposed to do things in order to please men. If awomen’s veil was a little off, men would tell women to fix it in a degradingmanner. From the beginning of the novel, Marjane portrays a young girl who isfull of confidence even though it may be hard especially in Iran.
When shetravels to Austria, Marjane learns that women have a lot more freedom inAustria than they do in Iran. Another article that we had to readwas called The Cult of Virginity byJessica Valenti in 2009. This article starts off by talking how she lost hervirginity and how she felt afterwards. The idea that virginity (or lossthereof) can profoundly affect women’s lives is certainly nothing new. WhenMarjane went to Austria, she had lost her virginity and was still trying tofind herself.
She ended up dating a guy and having sexual encounters with himbut then he ended up sleeping with another girl and Marjane walked in on it.Men these days treat women as sexual objects and I don’t think they take losingtheir virginity as serious as women do. Besides from the pain a woman goesthrough when it’s happening, she gets an emotional attachment to her partner.This isn’t a bad thing at all but when her partner doesn’t have the sameemotional attachment, this can cause him to leave her or cheat on her wheneverhe feels like it.
Society tells women that if they have multiple sexualpartners than they are considered to be a “slut” or “whore.” When a man hasmultiple sexual partners, he is praised. Women are looked upon to be sexualobjects that men can just use once and throw away which is what we are teachinggirls as they grow up. We teach them to cover up their bodies and not portrayany sexual meanings because that may provoke men. Shaming young women for beingsexual is nothing news, but it’s curios to observe how the expectation ofpurity gets played out through the women who are supposed to epitomize thefeminine ideal. If you are not a virgin then you are labeled a whore,whereabouts if you aren’t a virgin then you are label to be a prude to men.
Ina way, women can never just live freely without being judged for everythingthey do. (Shaw 334) In the chapter called Dowry, Marjanegot yelled at by her principal for wearing a bracelet that her mom gave her.Her principle yells at her to take it off and Marjane refuses.
The principlethen tells her that if she’s wearing it tomorrow then she will have to sufferthe consequences. The next day, the principle asks Marjane to show her wristand she refuses. The two-start yelling back and forth until Marjane ends upstriking the principle with a forceful punch.
Marjane starts apologizing forher actions but she ends up getting expelled. By Marjane doing this, she isresisting the socialization. She is saying that she will not change what shewears and does because someone tells her to. She wants to be able to be herselfand not let anyone tell her to be follow the regimes. Intersectionality plays arole here because since it is called for analytic methods, modes of politicalactions, and ways of thinking about persons, rights, and liberation bymultiplicity. Considering lived experience as a criterion of meaning:intersectionality focuses on how lived experiences can be drawn upon to exposethe partiality of normative modes of knowing and to help marginalized groupsarticulate and develop alternative analyses and modes of oppositionalconsciousness both individually and collectively.
(Shaw 79) During the novel, we learn aboutgender socialization and individual agency especially from Marjane. She is acourageous young woman who grew up going through some experiences that may havebeen hard for her but in the end, made her a strong woman who can encounteranything that comes to her. Marjane teaches her readers that no matter whatsomeone tells you what you should be like, you should always try to be yourselfand not let anyone dictate how you live. Individual agency teaches people tolive your life in freedom. When it even comes to eating food out of a kitchenpot in front of the TV and one of the Nuns yells at her, she sticks up forherself and doesn’t take crap from anybody. Marjane, to me is a feminist is somany ways because in a school assembly, she stands up and starts saying howgirls here can never wear what they want.
From lipstick to jewelry, they aren’tallowed to do anything that doesn’t meet the regimes of the Shah. As if it wasn’talready hard enough being a woman, but she a woman, living in Iran, surroundedby men who think and act as if you are nothing, must be very difficult to livelife. Women that live in the UnitedStates face sexism and gender socialization every single day. We are taught tolive by the social norms that are around us and if not, we are not accepted andto be looked at as weird. Marjane is very inspiring and I think young girlsgrowing up should read this book and think about how they, themselves, canstick up for other girls around them and instead of trying to knock othersdown, build each other up.
Marjane went through a lot of ways to try to findherself. From wanting to become the Last Prophet to deciding to leave Iran forgood. Marjane ends her novel with talking about how if a guy kills ten women inthe presence of fifteen others, no one can condemn him because in a murdercase, women can’t even testify.
Men have the right to divorce and even if hegives it to his wife, he has custody of the children. Marjane ends with sayingthat she has had enough of living life in a trapped bubble and how she wants tolive the country. She packs her bags for the last time to leave her family.Marjane is taking this opportunity to go live life to the fullest without beingtold you can’t do this and you can’t do that. Marjane ends her novel with thesaying, “Freedom had a price” because she left her family behind but now shefinally has to the chance to embrace her body, personality, and her life in anyshape and form that she wants.