Dr Colette Morrow: Cinematic Mirroring: Satrapi's Persepolis and Parsipur's Women without Men.
From Barbara Zorn-Arnold on October 11th, 2017
Aligning with the theme of Historical Perspectives and Future Directions, my presentation compares two films by women, arguing that local conditions shape feminist movements around the world and that women’s concepts of rights and equality are thus diverse. Using transnational feminist methods of analysis, the presentation further contends that some narratives about women and Islam are more appealing to US audiences than others, as demonstrated by the Disney-like Persepolis’s widespread popularity and the failure of Women without Men—a far more sophisticated film with a strong Iranian aesthetic—to attract a significant audience. Through this analysis, the presentation raises awareness of unconscious bias and its consequences for women. Particular attention is paid to the effects of unintentional bias in the US against immigrant women and women who are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim. The focus is on how such “invisible” prejudice narrows opportunities in the professions, workplace, and education institutions and may inhibit personal development.
The two film adaptations of
women-authored novels set in Iran explore these ideas during the period when
the country was a US franchise state led by puppet king Mohammed Reza Pahlavi
(1953-1979). Women without Men (2009)
employs magical realism to tell the stories of four women whose paths intersect
as they flee Tehran’s street violence during a CIA-engineered coup that
consolidated US control of the country in 1953. All are victims of sexism and misogyny.
Persepolis (2007), the filmic version
of Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novels, Story
of a Childhood and Story of a Return, is an animated coming-of-age
story about Marji, a precocious Iranian girl living in Tehran during the 1979
Islamist revolution that ended the US presence in Iran. Early in the movie, Marji chafes at sexist,
patriarchal restraints imposed on her by the new Islamist regime, but her
rebellion is futile and her parents send her to Austria for safety. The goals
of the presentation include raising awareness in order to eradicate
unintentional bias. Faculty will benefit by considering how student performance
can be affected by such bias. Student audiences will benefit by acquiring
enhanced appreciation for their peers’ diverse experiences.