MHS AP Lit. 2012-2013 discussion

Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran
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Choice > Lipstick Jihad Chapters 3 - 5

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Ryan Gallagher (ryangallagher) | 24 comments Mod
Lipstick Jihad Chapters 3 - 5

message 2: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Galvez | 8 comments Now that Azadeh has spent time in Iran she has realized all is not what she expected. Her eyes are now wide open to the problems of society due to the harsh regime. While in the public eye, things are one way; the things that happen behind closed doors are entirely different. Socially the interactions between people are rushed, hurried, and very much awkward and weird. Everyone has their eyes open to their neighbor’s actions in case something is to be reported. The regime has started to make its power be seen even without doing anything. Girls take everything to the extreme because they do not know what they really want from a relationship and are made to think that everything they do is wrong and feel dirty about it. The regime has caused time to be a nonfactor. People will have whirlwind relationships and in a matter of months there are marriages and such. There is no more value to the real things that should matter.
This is highlighted in the section where Azadeh drives a family member to a birthday party. The young ladies that attend wear the veil and roopoosh as they arrive but once inside the layers come off and the promiscuity that they think is needed and wanted is revealed. The need to be young and yet grown at the same time are shown. There really is no true joy in any social gathering because they feel a need to fill every moment with something wrong not knowing when their next chance will be.
It shows how much the regime tries to intrude but can’t control, no matter how many rules and regulations they try to set. Ultimately there’s only so much that they can really try to get at before it crumbles. It becomes a pick and chooses of battles of what you really want to control and what they turn their eyes to. This section also shows when Azadeh begins to feel the power that the regime has in her job. For her comes the interrogators that will plague her almost daily until she leaves. In a way these chapters show the weaknesses and strengths of the regime that Azadeh deals with in her social and working life. They start to try and infiltrate on parts of society that are hard to really control.
She has to deal with many traffic stops not only on a professional level but also as part of civilian life with overzealous power mad teenagers who think they have all the right to terrorize someone just because they have the word America on their press badge. It seems that as the regime starts to have any trouble they start to give just any position to anyone. Especially to cruel violent criminals who have a taste for torture. It’s the beginning of her realization that in Iran she is American, not Iranian as she had thought in the beginning. Her actions are not her own. Their a representation of America’s viewpoint.

Natalie Fallano | 8 comments Jackie wrote: "Now that Azadeh has spent time in Iran she has realized all is not what she expected. Her eyes are now wide open to the problems of society due to the harsh regime. While in the public eye, things ..."

I agree with Jackie because it does seem that this section shows a lot about the underground world of Tehran. Moaveni goes to secret parties in which people do activities that are technically illegal in the regime. Jackie's post made me think about how essentially there is a division in public and private life. The regime can not control what people do behind closed doors as much as they try to. But what saddens me was through this moral defiance and the changes made of the regime, Iran was slowly losing their culture. At the beginning of the chapter "My Country is sick" there is an epigraph from a poem. The last lines read: "And if we found a tree, still standing, defiantly We cut its branches, we pulled it up by the roots" (94). This entire poem or excerpt sums up what the Iranians are doing to their culture. Everything that stands for Iran is figuratively being burnt down. Iranians are defying the government by losing their sense of self altogether, attempting to westernize themselves so much, that the beauty of Iran is diminishing.

This reminds me of one of the saddest and moving parts of The Kite Runner. At the beginning of the book, Amir's father takes him to climb the large Buddha statues and they are described to be incredible in size and beauty. But then the Taliban came and destroyed these statues along with everything "un-Islamic" in Afghanistan. But in Iran it is not just the government that are destroying the culture but the people as well. An example of this is when Moaveni remarks "it didn't help that no one else was bloody fasting" (103). Religious reasons or not fasting during Ramadan was a part of Iranian culture. But because it become law, people chose not to do it out of defiance.

This may not seem that important but culture is what keeps people together and sane. Parts of culture include music, art, clothing, dance, and language. When people are deprived or change these normalites, they become uncomfortable. This is shown firsthand with Moaveni and the loneliness she feels without speaking English. English is a part of her and Farsi does not compare to it. This is not because of the way it sounds but because the "flimsy disingenuous things I said in English were codes" for feelings (68). Also, to Moaveni because English was the language "I had fought many battles, but it was also the language of an alternate existence in which I had never felt fear" (88). English was a part of her other life and the way she spoke was entirely different. Sometimes language can not be translated in the same effect, because within it there is a culture. And to understand this language, one must understand culture. Culture is an important part of a group as well as in individual because it is the way one lives,

So yes the government can not control free will but they did cause the change of culture. This new Iranian culture is not about respect and morality but rather immorality and defiance. Life is all about rebellion and wrongness. The answer to this new “sex craze” was temporary marriage. “Temporary” takes away the beauty and sacredness of marriage and therefore it is no longer special. Iran attempts to make up for losses and change but instead they are losing morality, culture, and self. Some changes have been for the better, but at this point Iran Moaveni was correct when she proclaimed “My Country is sick.”

So I agree with Jackie especially when she says “There really is no true joy in any social gathering because they feel a need to fill every moment with something wrong not knowing when their next chance will be. “ She is right, this is definitely happening, but should joy really be about wrongdoing and immorality. It takes away the sense of goodness people feel when they are feeling happy. The humanity of feelings has changed that Iranians have really forgotten what it feel both happiness, virute and integrity at the same time.

message 4: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Poirier | 8 comments Natalie wrote: "Jackie wrote: "Now that Azadeh has spent time in Iran she has realized all is not what she expected. Her eyes are now wide open to the problems of society due to the harsh regime. While in the publ..."

I think Natalie brings up a very interesting point about the sense of goodness Iranians feel in their country. To me, goodness stems from someone being themselves, from doing things that bring them and others happiness and positivity. Iran is a country that suppresses its people to a point where no one can feel happiness or be comfortable because they cannot be themselves.
When Moaveni says the “central dilemma of life under the Islamic regime” is whether one keeps up a façade, sacrificing spirit along the way, or ignores the taboos of society and is open, disregarding rules of the society (74). In Iran, the hassle of being you is a daily struggle. And if wrongdoing according to Iranian law is the only thing that brings people joy, then so be it. Iranians cannot live their lives under harsh rule never enjoying them, and the only time most of them can enjoy themselves is in the “safety” of their own homes with friends breaking harsh laws.
In this way, I suppose virtue is compromised in Iranian life. However, because rules there are so strict, law breaking may not be equal to committing non virtuous acts. So I disagree with Jackie and Natalie when they say that there is no true joy in any social gathering because there is “wrongdoing.” The readers have to keep in mind that this wrongdoing is in the eyes of Iranian law, so is it really all that wrong? With respect to the Iranian government, these criminal offenses do not compromise so many moral values that make those involved damaged or not virtuous. Goodness still exists in these people, if Moaveni was to act the same way in the United States, it would not make her less good or virtuous. While I understand that this does not apply to all Iranians committing acts of wrong doing, we still need to think beyond the context of the Iran’s government and culture.

message 5: by Janice (new)

Janice Yiu | 6 comments Moaveni is definitely more aware of what everyday life is like in Iran. I feel like she becomes a bit less naive and she starts realizing that the Iran she dreamt of is not at all like the Iran that exists. What I found particularly intriguing were the little things that made Moaveni very “American” and foreign. She always wondered why people could tell she was not a native and reading about those things made me wonder if they held true in other countries too. According to Moaveni’s friend, she apparently “smiled too much” and held too much eye contact. She was also too nice to people like waiters or cab drivers.

I agree with Jackie that Moaveni starts to feel the pressure of the regime affecting her work. She is required to check in Mr. X constantly and she even compares him to “an obsessive boyfriend” (115) because he asks her who she’s talked to, what parties she attended, and what information she’s collected. Moaveni starts feeling uncomfortable because these meetings are held in secluded areas like parking lots or back alleys where she claims that if she screams for help, she would not be heard, proving that she has thought of the worst case scenarios. Moaveni even has a secret code with her cab driver and that if anything were to happen, a simple phrase about dinner would mean “SOS.” Moaveni has to be extremely careful because phones can be bugged and plants can be sent to extract information that might be used against the victim.

While social gatherings are not “wrong doings,” I think that the reasons for these gatherings are a bit muddled. I feel like the purpose of the parties were to make a statement and to rebel, rather than to create the “sense of goodness” as Natalie mentioned. I agree with Catherine that the parties aren’t wrong doings at all, but if the women weren’t willing to dress promiscuously before, why must they choose to do so after the strict laws were enforced? If they weren’t comfortable enough in the past, then why should a law suddenly change that in order for them to make a statement?

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