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jlustick's picture

Sexuality in Persepolis

Having just finished Persepolis, I couldn't help but consider these critical essays in relation to the graphic novel. The first thing that struck me was the pronounced absence of sexuality in Satrapi's work. Considering that this is a "coming of age" story it is suprising that she pays little attention to the process of sexual discovery. I am not suggesting that she overtly confront the issues of homo/hetero/bisexuality, as we saw in the other novels, or explain her own heterosexuality, rather, I was suprised that she did not explore her transition into a "sexual being." This maturation is particularly interesting considering the Iranian dresscode which requires women to conceal all signs of physical sexual development. Fully cloaked, Satrapi's body is the same at ten years of age as at twenty. If we examine the graphic on page 305 in which the women are dressed in Western attire (this picture is presented in contrast to the preceding drawing in which the women are full covered), we see that many of these females are depicted in a highly sexualized manner: they wear makeup, including lipstick, and shirts which which reveal their shoulders, neck, and cleavage. Satrapi labels this picture with the caption "this disparity made us schizophrenic." When I initially read this page, I thought about the divide between public and private and the manner in which these women had to repress their true selves in order to conform to a sort of homogeneity. However, now, I cannot help but consider the effects of these women not being able to publicly come to terms with their own sexuality and physicality body. How do these women understand their corporeality when it is separated from society? Is it harder or easier to have a sense of body? How do the women cope with their view of their body being so different from society's view? Does society aide in or hinder our understanding of our bodies? In connection to the critical essays, I am curious about the body as a home for the self. Can the body be a home for the self if one does not have the freedom to expose it?

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