Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Breaking Barriers, Making Barriers

yj13's picture

I'm looking forward to our discussions on Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis this coming week. I studied the first half of Persepolis in my 12th grade English class, though I'm curious to see how my analysis and understanding will change with a more focused study. One thing I found interesting was the choice of medium, namely the undetailed comic style. When I originally took the art style into consideration, the point was made that since the drawings were very simplistic, it made the story more relatable. Since non-Iranians would be reading this book, the simple drawings could allow readers to not feel like they were reading the story of an "other", someone whose experiences were fundamentally different and ergo unrelateable. However, the style also leads to an enforcement of gender stereotypes due to its simplistic nature. It is very clear which figures are meant to be men and which are meant to be women based on external characteristics, traits that are meant to be clearly read as male or female. The style does not really allow for any variance in gender; it shows only two possible points on a the amorphous ball that is gender identity. 


Polly's picture

Visual gender assumptions

When I started reading Persepolis, I would stare at the very simple drawings of the children and immediately know which ones were supposed to be the boys and which were the girls. I could not pinpoint specific traits that I identified as male and female, because they were just the faces of children. When the adults were drawn, however, clothing and hairstyles were the main indicators of male or female. I don't think that the book should be criticized for only showing two genders, however, because in the culture that Satrapi is describing, the laws and societal rules are enforcing the binary very strictly. The Iranian culture is a sharp contrast to what we read about in the gender workbook, only accepting married heterosexual couples. I think if one of the gender fluid people from the gender workbook wrote a narrative in comic style, they would be able to visually represent more than the gender binary in a creative way. I would love to read more autobiographies of differently gendered people in the same style as Persepolis.