Two Book Nerds Talking Presents

THE LITERATURE
FOR EQUALITY
PROJECT

8 Books. Discussions. Interviews. In-Class Activities.

Ep 6: Giving Every Girl A Voice

Episode Notes:

A summary of our podcast discussion on Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (2003). 

 

Book Summary:

Episode Notes:

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (2003)

Genre: Memoir / Graphic Novel / Iranian Literature

 

Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis is an invitation to walk in another girl’s shoes in a very different world. As we are here figuring out hairstyles, sighing over Korean pop-stars and dealing with homework, Marjane also faces her tween years with trying to understand the volatile change of power in her country and trying to understand what it means for women. How do you have crushes on boys when your movements are monitored? How do you comfort family members when they are unable to save their loved ones? How do you covet things like sneakers and jackets when all you can  wear are chadors? It also goes into the public and private lives of women and men, on the outside having to negotiate the sudden conservatism but inside closed doors find ways to cling on to their beliefs and way of life.

Told through the eyes of a child, it’s also a bittersweet coming of age as Marjane realises that adults do not have all the answers and are muddling along too. And this is the development of critical thinking that is crucial for young girls to question their agency and status in society. Essentially freedom of expression for both genders are equally important and more so for young women who have a lot more against them in conservative societies.

Content warnings: There is critique of conservative Islamization and depictions of God and religion that some might find a little subversive- all told from the point of view of an inquisitive child. There are also brief details of casualties and injuries caused by war, graphics depicting ghosts, policemen attacking rioters and scenes of war, but done in Marjane’s bold black and white drawings renders it less graphic. This book brings forth difficult issues without it being gratuitous.

 

Classroom Materials:

1. Use Google Map to show Persepolis.

2. What are some women garments that are made but lack convenience, clothings that are made to beautify women but constraints and gives discomfort. Eg: High heel shoes, women corsets

3.  In the book, during the Iranian War, women were told what to do and how to act and this sometimes extends to being punished if they act otherwise.

Do you think it is fair for women to be treated this way? Different from how men are treated? 

4. Being in Persepolis during that time, her parents do not restrict her from expressing herself (listening to Iron maiden, wearing sneakers, denim jackets)

What do you do to express yourself? What do you think is the most important expression for an individual?

5. There are numerous women who spoken against women oppression in our world today. Nama some

-Malala, Nadia, more recent one – Ain Husniza

6. Malala spoke against child marriage because it was against girls and women having a choice and the lack of autonomy they have in their lives.

Are there any issues of child marriages/human trafficking in the world today? (look for newspaper articles online Malaysia and other countries)

7. Child trafficking/genocide/ sexual abuse are all very oppressive and serious offence. In Malaysia, Ain Husniza spoke against rape jokes that were made by her PE teacher in class in a TikTok.

-Ask for opinions from students (what did they think about that. Do they agree or disagree with Ain’s action/ with the teacher’s action)?

*Ask students 

8. Do you read magazines? Which section?

Some parts of the magazines perpetuate gender stereotypes (tell women how to act and behave) Eg: make up and clothes (to be beautiful)

Some mothers perpetuate this culture – allowing boys to be active and do what they want but restricting girls. Discuss.

9. Boys should be taught not to objectify woman and women to value themselves and not to please others. Notice how mothers would ask their daughters to not wear certain clothing in the presence of men. Why are men not taught to not sexualize women? And to lower their gaze?

-Think of news articles that is related to this. (Eg:  gymnastic team – cover up completely, volleyball team – wearing shorts instead of bikini)

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