For Hum. Core we watched the films Women Without Men (2009) and Persepolis (2007), both based on books that I haven’t read, yet. The films describe the 1953 Iranian coup d’etat and the 1979 Iranian Revolution, respectively, through female perspectives. Both are really good films, and I now have interesting memories with what happened after I finished watching Persepolis, so that is always a plus.
I am not Iranian, Muslim or an expert in politics and revolutions, so I feel like I am in no position to give an opinion about Iranian history, culture and society, however, there are elements that are practically universal. Our lecturer, Professor Nasrin Rahimieh, pointed out the responsibility that women had/have of being the guardians of men’s behavior. This got me thinking about a lot of stuff, so now I’m gonna try to organize my thoughts.
1st Train of Thought: Family
Double standards, it got me thinking of the unsaid rules that women had in Mexico, my mom’s country. Partially because the majority of Mexicans are Catholic, and if not, still that belief system is so ingrained in society, there was a generalized expectation when my mom was young that women should be virgins when they marry.
She tells me that that was all her friends thought about, getting married. My mom didn’t think in terms of marriage as a life goal, just something that would be nice to do eventually, she mainly wanted to continue her studies but couldn’t afford it. The expectation that a woman must be a virgin when she gets married, was not enforced by her parents (my grandparents, RIP), especially because my grandmother had three kids before she married my grandfather and also my great-great grandmother ran a brothel, so my mom’s family were never strict on morality rules, whatever that stuff was called. However, my mom and her two sisters each were virgins when they married, or, got together with their life partners. My mom did that because it was her own, personal choice.
What I don’t like is that a society with religious roots does not enforce men to the same standards of morality. Why must women be virgins and not men? Don’t religious rules apply to everyone? My mom says that there is a tradition that once a guy turns 15, his father will take him to a brothel “para estrenarse.”
My dad is from Honduras, where the norm is to grow up with a bunch of half-siblings and to be raised by your grandmother. In fact, it is weird if you are not sexually active, no matter what gender you are. –> Sorry for generalizing, these statements are definitely not true for everyone, it’s just the environment my dad grew up in.
I just don’t like it when they combine religion with government and society, it’s a perversion of religion, making it seem like a bunch of empty rules. I was raised Christian, but the way other people see Christianity, how well-known “Christian leaders” act, and how Christianity is portrayed makes it seem like a joke. I didn’t even take my religion seriously until last year when I had my first spiritual experiences with God, and now my religion is something entirely real and beautiful to me. Religion, I think, is supposed to be personal and not an excuse to control other people.
2nd Train of Thought: Bodies
I get paranoid about being stared at; I automatically believe that people are staring at me because I am hideous or because they are raping me in their mind. I know this is pathetic, but at least I know exactly why this paranoia/anxiety started, and thanks to Buzzfeed, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj, I am starting to pull away from this anxiety and accept and truly love my body and be confident with the clothing I wear.
The first picture is when Marji goes through puberty (Persepolis Puberty Scene). There was discussion that this scene and how Marji describes herself going through these changes have some type of importance in a humanities perspective, but I didn’t understand what it was. For me, it was just relatable how she described herself as unrealistically monstrous. Although for me, I didn’t pay attention to my body until other people pointed things out, not even in a critical way, just stating fact. But it got me to be really self conscious about myself. Self-conscious about the details. These details of my body, and later my social anxiety, is what Buzzfeed is helping me come to accept, because their articles and videos are from other people that go through the same things I do.
The middle picture is a scene in Women Without Men where Zarin is cleansing herself after leaving her job as a prostitute. She scrubs herself until she bleeds. It’s like she is trying to separate herself from her body because her body has been used, objectified. Objectification was my paranoia. I started getting cat-called out in public when I was in middle school, and I didn’t know what it meant, but then I heard older girls, women and even the news talk about how cat-calling was disgusting and disrespectful. After a certain thing happened to me (I think I was fourteen), I stopped wearing shorts in public, I only wore them at school where everyone was my age and not nasty forty-year-old men (now I don’t wear shorts because I’m lazy about shaving my legs twice a week).
The third picture in the sequence is also from Women Without Men. This takes place after Faezeh, the most innocent character, is raped. Here, she is looking at herself in the mirror and at the end of the scene, she smiles. To me, this is about finally seeing yourself and your body in a positive and powerful way. This started happening to me in my senior year of high school, because most of the stares I got were from people my age that I also found attractive. I realized that other people are not as critical of me as I am of myself and I figured that it doesn’t matter what people think when they see me, because I dress for myself.
3rd Train of Thought: Power
And since my senior year of high school I have learned that my body isn’t something to be ashamed of or to try to hide because other people can’t control their own bodies. My body, my shape, is something to be proud of and it is completely under my control.
The Selena Gomez song, “Good For You,” came out right before my senior year started, and it opened my mind to a whole other possibility, that it is okay to want to look good for another person. I don’t know why that idea was so revolutionary for me. It’s like having a target and knowing you can make it. It also feels amazing when they reciprocate. I later realized that this was connected to me discovering my sexuality.
Beyonce’s self-titled album came out four days after my sixteenth birthday, when I was a sophomore in high school. When I first heard it, I didn’t understand it, just that it was very sexual. I recently re-heard it a few months ago, and now I absolutely love it. The way she is proud of her sexuality and that a long-lasting marriage can be lustful, it’s inspirational, making me believe in marriage and that love and sex can belong together.
Nicki Minaj is also a real confidence booster for me. I listened to her all the time in middle school and the first half of my freshman year of high school, so I missed out on her 2014 album, The Pinkprint, released three days after my seventeenth birthday. The only thing I knew about that album was “Anaconda,” which everybody loved to hate (I was all about The Doors my junior year of high school). I first listened to the album last month, and I am grateful that I listened to the album at just the right time in my journey of self-discovery. The thing is, up until this year (2017), I was positive I was asexual: I had only been attracted to people mentally and porn had me believing that sex had nothing to do with love (I first saw porn when I was eleven). Perhaps I had always suppressed that side of myself. The Pinkprint is an amazing album that brings together every aspect of human emotions, lust being one of them (the newest emotion/feeling/thought I’m trying to understand). It was a real eye-opener for me.