Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – I loved these books. The first one is subtitled The Story of a Childhood, while Persepolis 2 tells the story of Satrapi’s teenage and young adult years. Born in Iran Satrapi identified with her family and culture, but she was sent at 14 to continue her education in Austria. Her parents were apprehensive about the trouble she was likely to get into with an increasingly repressive regime. They were right to be apprehensive. Satrapi was rebellious and the monitors could whip you for showing too much hair or wearing the wrong color socks.
Initially Satrapi’s liberal parents welcomed the revolution. Down with the Shah! What came after was just as bad. They passed from an extreme of imposed secularism and corruption to an extreme of imposed religiosity and corruption. This is similar to the story told in Reading Lolita in Teheran, where the restrictions also increased, step by stop.
As you can see from the sample here, the Persepolis books are graphic novels. I used to be rather sniffy about this literary form — adult comic books — until I read the Age of Bronze series by Eric Shanower which brings the time of the Trojan War to life with his drawings of people and places. Satrapi’s illustrations depict the emotional truth of the events she experienced. As a child, she saw and felt as a child. As a teenager, she became something else.
My angry feminist comment: This is what happens when men define what women are and what they ought to be. Women must cover their hair and shroud their bodies because when men see these desirable objects, they are sexually aroused and that is sinful. Their own responsibility is nowhere considered. It is all the women’s fault and so they must be strictly controlled to prevent men from sinning. Poor weak men! As Majane Satrapi’s grandmother said, if God knew that women’s hair would cause so much sin, he should have made them bald.