Persepolis chronicles the life of Marjane Satrapi growing up in Iran. Growing up, she is surrounded by her loving family and relatives, and like most teenagers anywhere, she has a penchant for pop music, fashion, and rebelliousness. Soon, Marjane finds herself confronting the injustices of the Iranian regime. She sees her uncle die after his window-washer-turned-government employee refused to give him permission to seek medical treatment abroad. Women like her had to shroud their faces from men. Alcohol and other Western decadence have been outlawed by the intolerant government. Fearing that her outspokenness may endanger her, Marjane’s pare nts decided to send her abroad. In Austria, she finds herself in a radically different society where the values she grew up with weren’t as important to the people. She grew homesick and returned to Iran but it wasn’t the nation that she once knew.
The film’s use of animation, which is mostly black and white with shades of gray, besides being loyal to the graphic novel in which it is based on, involves its viewers in a way that the characters and the setting do not look as if they are from a foreign land and that these events can happen to anybody in any country. Because of this, it was not difficult to relate Marjane’s struggles with our own.
The most striking to me in Marjane’s story is how the extremists in the Iranian society view their women. There is a scene in which Marjane’s mother was scolded by a man because she was wearing her scarf inappropriately, and when she refused, the man, in a fit of rage, said that he “fucks [women] and dump them in the trash.” I find that ironic since the men say that reason why women have to wear scarves is to protect their integrity, so men won’t get excited at the sight of women. Do men really respect wo men or do they put them in a place in a lower place in society, as a potential distraction for them, and not really as functioning members of it? Of course in the Philippines, the case is not as radical as Iran’s, but there are nuances. In an “ideal” Filipino family, it is the father who works and earns while the mother takes care of the children. Nowadays, both parents usually work to make ends meet. However, t hough women now contribute to the labor force in
the Philippines, at home they are still expected to do the household work. At home, my parents and grandmother always tell me to learn how to cook and do laundry and all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for learning, but when they say that I need to do it so I can get a husband, that’s when I get touchy. It is as if a woman’s worth is only for her husband and not really as an individual who contributes to the society.