Comparison Between the Day I Became a Woman and Wadjda

Published: 2021/12/24
Number of words: 638

The Day I Became a Woman, directed by Marzieh Meshkini and Wadjda, directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, are awakening films, presenting an insightful critique regarding repressive patriarchy and masculine hegemony. For most parts of these two films, intersectionality arises, evinced by the cultural beliefs and practices, gender, and sexual orientation. In both instances, the Al-Mansour and Marzieh used women to demonstrate how society values and customs that derail women’s progress. Devoid of psychological clutter, the two films, The Day I Became a Woman, and Wadjda are educative, sketching female empowerment in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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The patriarchal system is one aspect evident in both works. The two directors demonstrated how women’s progress is hindered in society at the expense of their male counterparts. Meshkini used three short stories in The Day I Became a Woman in order to recount how women struggle for identity in Iran. In one of the stories, Hava, a character in the film, is told by her grandmother and mother that she has grown to become a woman, and as a result, she now has specific roles, specific to women. Because of this transition, Hava can no longer play together with one of her friends, who is a boy (Meshkini). In this scenario, mother and grandmother are institutionalized backdrops derailing women’s empowerment, restricting them from doing what their male age mates do. The same case is evident in Wadja, as Wadja, a young girl, undergoes almost a similar problem. Here, her mother refused to buy her a bicycle, telling her it is only for boys (Al-Mansour). These two instances depict a patriarchal system of society, which is a hindrance to women’s empowerment.

The intersectionality of sexual orientation and gender roles spurs inequality in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Analyzing Meshkini’s and Al-Mansour’s literary works, women are disadvantaged because of their sex because they are expected to operate in a specific way so as to align themselves to socio-cultural beliefs. In both cases, these two directors present characters who try to defy cultural beliefs and norms in order to realize their dreams. For example, both have employed the use of a bicycle against society’s expectations. In Wadja, the young girl yearns to own a bicycle even after her mother warned her (Al-Mansour). The third short story in The Day I Became a Woman depicts a young woman who earned her freedom by being able to buy anything of her choice. These contexts are illustrations of awakening, revealing to women to own the challenge of working their way towards equality in society.

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Even though these films demonstrate masculine hegemony in these set regions, Meshkini’s and Al-Mansour’s intentions were not to depict men as oppressors. Instead, they wanted to show how the traditional customs in Iran and Saudi Arabia derail women’s progress in society. Both directors used two major institutions of socialization, girls’ mothers, that hinder full articulations of their nonconformist inclination. Using Wadja, a young girl, and Hava, their mothers acted as their obstacles, denying them a chance to do what they want. Both cases show a mother as a social institution reinforcing gender norms.

In conclusion, Meshkini and Al-Mansour artistry have vast similarities, revealing women’s empowerment struggle in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Throughout their films, socio-cultural norms are depicted as outdated, acting as an awakening call for women to assume the empowerment mantle. On the whole, the directors’ works are plausible, acting to reveal the importance of equality and demerits of the patriarchal system in society.

Works Cited

Al-Mansour, Haifaa. Wadjda. Razor Film Produktion GmbH, 2012.

Meshkini, Marzieh. The Day I Became a Woman. Olive Films (U.S.), 2000.

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