Behind the Veil

In Marjane Satrapi’s The Complete Persepolis, we are told of a young girl’s coming of age in a tempestuous Iran. At first, I was put off by the graphic narrative, or “comic book”, style of presentation. I did not believe that I would construe any deeper meaning from what I believed to be a rudimentary form. Yet her work was filled with an abundance of themes, from love and youth, to family and tradition.

As ignorant as it may sound, I have to admit that I have never been extremely familiar with Iran. I hear the name on the news all the time, but I have never bothered to learn about the country. After reading The Complete Persepolis, I feel as though I have a better grasp not only on Iranian government and history, but also on the Iranian people. I have always had a very stereotyped vision of what an Iranian person would be: strict, extremely religious, anti-Western, and shrouded in a black veil. The Complete Persepolis shattered any misconceptions I had. Right off the bat, I identified with Satrapi. The way she thought was more similar to the way I did than I could have imagined from an Iranian girl. She worried about pleasing her parents, meeting cute boys, and making friends, the thoughts that occupy most young girls’ minds.  Satrapi and her family were proof that not all Iranians are the extremists that you see on the news.

While the thought process and behind-closed-doors behavior of the characters was extremely relatable, the treatment of the people by the government outside of closed doors was something that shocked and appalled me.  Women were treated particularly badly. I have a difficult time understanding the reasoning behind this; if men are so incapable of repressing their lusts and desires, why are women the ones being punished? Why not lock these uncontrollable men up rather than force women to rid themselves of their femininity and identity? Reading the graphic narrative, I felt a sense of claustrophobia and entrapment. I understand that Iran is Satrapi’s home, but to me, it gave off the air of a prison.

Overall, I admire the way Satrapi maintained her sense of individuality in a country were you were forced to cover it with a veil.


2 thoughts on “Behind the Veil

  1. Honestly, I have to agree with you on having no idea about the Iranian culture. I’ve been raised by a strong Arab culture having both my parents coming from the Middle East and myself visiting. I had no idea about Iran, in my mind they were always seen at the extremists the ones that started a war and the damage in the middle easter. After reading Persepolis and seeing how most of the Iranians felt about the situation truly saddened me.
    Regardless of what part or region of the world we are from, we all think the same thing. Girls usually care for fitting in, the latest style and the cutest guys. Satrapi was definitely able to portray that through this narrative.
    She focused on so many aspects just like you said throughout this story and honestly never really expected that. We get all our ideas of what goes on in Iran through the media and sometimes it just takes one person, one story to change our whole view point. I love how you were able to tie the way Marjane was raised along with the rest of the world and our version of a normal life of growing up. All she seeked was a normal life that we at times take advantange of.
    This did give us a closer look on what really happens in Iran and I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who got all my viewpoints from the media. Oops!

  2. I appreciate your discussion on the treatment of women. Persepolis portrays that the lack of women’s rights in Iran was due to the men’s perversion.

    It is interesting, however, contrasting human rights problems throughout history and throughout the world because there are multiple distinct reason for human oppression. For example, enslaved African Americans in eighteenth and nineteenth century United States were treated as inferiors because of their differences from white European Americans. With social Darwinism in play, many American slave-owners assumed that because the enslaved were from Africa, they were of a lesser race. In this case, human rights deprivation was due to the assumption of inferiority.

    In another example, the current gay rights movement illustrates the struggle to gain rights to marry. Gay marriage is illegal in some states because some people think that gay acts are sinful and that such a marriage is not legitimate in the eyes of their god. In this scenario, human rights (in my opinion) are denied because of the assumption of religious sin.

    In these three scenarios, human rights are limited due to assumptions of perversion, inferiority, and religious sin. Each oppressed people lack specific rights as described by a government, yet the root of the oppression varies in each circumstance. It is truly depressing how many excuses humans can create to treat other peoples badly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s