I recently finished reading Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, a fascinating, autobiographical graphic novel about the coming of age of an Iranian young woman. After the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and during the subsequent Iran-Iraq war, Marjane spent several years as a teenager in Paris, separated from her parents, who remained in Iran. Upon her return to Iran she sees the profound sexism of the fundamentalist Islamic Republic of Iran from a new perspective. As the Amazon review of Persepolis explains:
Emboldened by the example of her feisty grandmother, she tests the bounds of the morality enforced on the streets and in the classrooms. With a new appreciation for the political and spiritual struggles of her fellow Iranians, she comes to understand that "one person leaving her house while asking herself, 'is my veil in place?' no longer asks herself 'where is my freedom of speech?'
Among my favorite vignettes in the book is one in which the main character is running to catch a bus, wearing her burkha. She hears the amplified voice of a Guardian of the Revolution telling her “You in the blue coat. Stop running!” After explaining that she was late to catch her bus, she is told that her bottom makes obscene movements when she runs. She angrily responds, “Well, then, don’t look at my ass!” At this point in the book, we have some sense of the serious risk she runs by speaking to the religious police in this way. And yet, we can’t help cheering for the common sense and enough-is-enough sensibility of her response.