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 6 - 7

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Ryan Gallagher (ryangallagher) | 24 comments Mod
Lipstick Jihad Chapters 6 - 7


Natalie Fallano | 8 comments Moaveni (and I) respect women who choose to wear the veil, but when forced, it can have a harmful effect on a woman's self image and health. Thoughts go through their heads like "Why do your hair if it's going to be covered up all day? Why watch your figure if it gets lost in the folds of the cloak?" (156). They are prone to feel as f there is no point of taking care of themselves. They are conflicted because they are stuck in a society in which beauty I something to be ashamed of and sexuality is forbidden. These women do not feel beautiful and no one tells them their beautiful. This feeling would make anyone feel depressed. It is impossible to love others and enjoy life if one does not love themselves. This the reason they "were depressed in large numbers" (156). the government made human feelings and ordinary sensations illegal.

This is why the new generation Moaveni observes, is so sex crazy. The main reason for this is because when one is told not to something, you yearn to do it even more. The government "threw up obstacles everywhere to casual coexistence between the sexes," therefore making friendships close to impossible (190). The only time the opposite sex has relations with one another is through courting. This why they sneak out to hook up and have sex. They are forced to date in secret so that they do not dishonor their families. They know so little about one another, which is why they have a drive to become sexually active right away. They feel as of they will discover what they were not told about the other sex.

Iranians claim to be anti-American because of its reputation for open sexuality and public display of affections. But it seems that the start of western romance begins so much more innocently: "footsy under a blanket at a winter foot ball game, slow dancing at the school dance, sleepover where we drank beer, giggled over Mont Python" (190). In America friendships escalate into romance, but in Iran relationships can not be this open. But in Iran women" fake their pasts and camouflage their needs and desires" in order to "disguise any hint of personality" (186-187). This is the proper way to find a husband, yet it seems fake and shallow. It makes me wonder how people are able to fall in love and what is the purpose of a relationship? This is why it is understandable that the younger generation sneak out to hang out and flirt. "Coupledom was almost like being in the military" (191 and this constant struggle seems romantic from the outside. But in reality struggle is just hard, brutal and impossible, not the creator of love. Not every couple is like this. We hear about Mira and her boyfriend that sneak out to have sex but we also see the failed relationship of Fatimeh and Davar. People tend to find the story of two lovers from different worlds and who would never be together, as romantic. But in reality these two do not end up together and the outcome of Fatimeh's life is tragic. She gets married to a conservative man and leaves her job. They never had a chance and their struggle was not


message 3: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Ramsey | 6 comments Like both Natalie and Moaveni, I too respect women who wear the veil by choice. But, I also agree that being forced to wear the veil can have a lot of negative effects on a woman, both physically and mentally.

In my opinion, women's attitudes on wearing the veil can go from one extreme to another. For instance, some women will not see the point on keeping up with their physical appearance simply because they do not see the point of staying fit if their bodies will just "get lost in the folds of the cloak". (156) By forcing women to wear clothing that completely takes away all sense of individuality and expression, they will lose all motivation to stay keep up with their appearance. Moaveni even admitted that by living in Iran you would become "a sloppy version of yourself" (155). While on the other hand, some women feel so trapped by the veil and the cloak, that they will find any way they possibly can to lash out. Some women effected by the revolution will sneak around and or overexpose their sexuality just because it is so forbidden. The part of chapter six that really stuck out to me was the way women acted while at the gym. They would get all dressed up with "immaculate makeup" and "an abundance of jewelry" (151) just to work out. As anyone knows, they did not do this because going to the gym is some sort of elite activity where one must look their absolute best... the women did this because this was one of their (if not their only) opportunity to do so.

But on the other hand, Moaveni did not fit into either of these groups. Perhaps, it was her American upbringing that made her so different? Even though she admitted that "Iran was slowly making [her] sick" (155), she did not want to leave. Later in the chapter, she was sent to New York for business related reasons. Even though she was in America, where she was free, she still felt pressure to live by the Iranian standards. When meeting with the Iranian President on free American soil, she still felt obligated to wear "the accessory that would damn [her perfect outfit] to hell" (169). She did not do this because she herself felt inferior but because she knew that "something about speaking Farsi with bareheaded women distracted" Iranian officials (169). I understand that she did this out of respect and there for, I can respect her for this decision. Personally, if I were the Iranian president I would feel a much stronger sense of respect for a women who wore the veil by choice than by force.


message 4: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Ramsey | 6 comments Chapter 7, Love in a Time of Struggle focuses on the difficulties of obtaining and maintaining an Islamic Relationship. Since the Islamic Republic frowns upon dating and encourages arranged marriages, young people are forced to date in secret.

In older generations, women want to stay pure so that men will see them as desirable wives. But, since this was so forced by the Islamic Republic, younger generations became more likely to rebel. This is the case of Moaveni's "distant relative", Mitra. Mitra was a young girl, but she and her friends were different from past generations-- they were more into boys, partying, and defying the Islamic Republic, one could say a proper label would be "sex crazed". Mitra did not care about how desirable she would look as a wife, she was young and cared about looking desirable now. Mitra was in the awkward phase where she was "not quite a girl, not yet a women" (187). She wanted her boyfriend to love her and she wanted him to stay with her and she was willing to do anything to please him. She began watching pornographic videos to educate her young self on the matter. She would sneak around with him instead of saving herself for marriage.

Personally, I see two matters at fault for the "sex crazed generation". The first one being the strictness of the Islamic Republic. It is human nature-- the more you tell someone that they cannot have something, the more they want it. Struggle "makes emotions... a luxury" and "is about as romantic as leprosy" (191). The second matter that I blame for this uprising is the exaggerated definition of a "western" lifestyle. Most Iranians believe that America is a country filled only with drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, and defiance. Though of course those things exist in America, as they do anywhere else, Iranians are fixated on the U.S because their government hates it so much. "In Iran "westernized" was just a convenient label for any female behavior that defied oppressive tradition" (200). The new generation saw Western life glamorous because of the freedom that all people had. A new generation cannot be blamed for their behavior since it was the previous generation who taught them their ways.


message 5: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Galvez | 8 comments I’m Too Sexy For My Veil highlighted a very sticky and problematic situation for many women in Azadeh’s position. Not only is she an American but she is an Iranian citizen as well now. She was given a chance to travel with the Iranian leader and his cabinet for a United Nations Conference in America. But she was stuck deciding whether or not to wear the veil at the conference since technically speaking, the Islamic Convention isn’t valid in New York. Ultimately, she decided to wear the veil just to avoid any further problems with the leader due to her work, but it shows that for many women in the work force that involves travel to countries outside of the Middle East such as America are pressured into still wearing the veil, especially those who aren’t born and raised in Iran in the first place. Now the regime’s brainwashing power is starting to spread farther than the Middle East if women can’t even feel free enough not to wear the veil if they aren’t doing it for their own personal religious beliefs. Azadeh dislikes herself in the veil, but if she was to not wear it the very men that encouraged her would be offended and never look at her the same way just because of that choice she does.
This section shows the issues that come with the veil for working women that are not wearing it for religious beliefs. They are forced to deal with the many health problems that come with it because of a fear that the regime has put on them. This parallel the situation that occurred with Khaleh Zahra when by accident her veil slipped down from her head to her shoulders and everyone on the street was staring as she walked past. For Azadeh she was stared at because she was wearing the veil and no one was. In both situations people were offended and angry; there was no caring about the circumstances behind the action. Everyone just assumed what they would like and didn’t bother trying to understand them at all.
Azadeh understood and weighted seriously the possible problems that could come her way if she hadn’t worn the veil at the United Nations Conference. She felt that the men whom made her job easier and really helped her out without gaining anything for them would have felt a slap in their face if on her turf she didn’t wear the veil; it was about making sure to keep a good partnership with people that she cared about. In a way the logic behind it was purely business. Yes, she didn’t really like it but it was better than better ostracized from influential people who she really cared about. The veil in this section was a professional weight that many working, traveling, women have to deal with. It’s the fear of being ostracized that really inhibits them from it which may explain why the few working women out there are usually very close to their coworkers.


message 6: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Poirier | 8 comments "I'm Too Sexy for my Veil" was certainly my favorite chapter of this memoir. Throughout the book, readers are able to gather that Moaveni faces a conflict of identity between the two countries she calls home. While in this chapter, the conflict can be visualized. Moaveni comes face to face with her two identities that have perplexed her from the first chapter. Is she American, Iranian, or Iranian-American? And how does she act in each situation?
Prior to moving, Moaveni had lived the typical life of an American, only abiding by the Iranian culture when her family forced her to do so. In Iran, she abided by the culture, assimilating herself as best she could without forgetting her American side with the occasional cigarette or hookah hit. Here she is coming back to America as an Iranian, and feels the need to present herself as such. Moaveni decides she must wear her veil while working with the President at the United Nations – to avoid a culture shock on her co-workers behalf. However, a part of me believes that she does this to avoid culture shock on her behalf.
Moaveni has learned to live the American way, and to live the Iranian way, never together though. She was “getting better at existing between Iran and America” (169). But “geographically at least, [she] preferred them apart” (169). Her nationality and Iranian passport basically required her to wear her veil at all times, but in New York City, she felt it would mess with her mind and identity to do so. But for the sake of her job, she does when in the presence of her coworkers.
Her veil became this conflicted barrier as an American, it became the “accessory that would damn [her suit] to hell” (169). In addition to her newfound fashion dilemma, the situation demanded an understanding of “who [she] was and what mattered to [her], and truly felt paralyzed” (170). Moaveni’s identity is obviously something that still troubles her. Moving to Iran was supposed to help her with this situation; however it has proven to even complicate it further.
Her loyalty and allegiance lies in two places at this point, however there is no “commuting back and forth, no shared custody” (171). As a reader, it is difficult for me to grasp why she hangs onto the veil and her Iranian nationality in America, she could have done her job just the same without her hijab. Women are forced to veil in Iran; it is a sign of no individuality, of Iran’s “disregard for women’s legal status in general” (170), Moaveni pointed this out herself. In a country that is her own, Moaveni should not have to feel suppressed by wearing the veil that she disregards as an annoying piece of cloth.


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