I just finished reading Persepolis 2, by Marjane Satrapi. It’s a graphic novel in the tradition of Maus. The book is the continuation of a story based on the author’s experiences growing up in Iran during the time of the Islamic Revolution and the war between Iran and Iraq. It shows the reader the effects of Fundamentalism on a brilliant and funny young girl named Marji.
While I was reading the book, happily satisfied that what was being done to women there could never happen here, I was suddenly struck by one of the illustrations.
It dawned on me that women are controlled in our own country in much more subtle and insidious ways. Take for example today’s topic on "The View," a popular television show aimed at and hosted by women, among them Barbara Walters. Today, Barbara tells us that she’s going to be interviewing President Bush for 20/20 regarding his upcoming inauguration. She then shares a preview with "The View" audience, and what burning issue does she choose to share with us? We get to learn the details of Laura Bush’s inaugural gown!
Do people honestly think that all women care about are clothes and how to look ten pounds thinner? I know that television shows are designed to sell products to consumers and create demand for those products. I also know that women are constantly being bombarded with unrealistic examples of womanly beauty, but I never stopped to think that it isn’t just about beauty or someone making a buck off of our insecurities. It’s about control. Marjane Satrapi’s illustration says it all. If we are constantly being distracted from the real issues by concerns about our appearance, age or our weight then we are being controlled just as surely as if we were being forced to wear a veil.