I was pretty upset about this movie, just like I’m always upset when I see a women getting beaten on camera. It’s probably one of the biggest social problems that go virtually unnoticed, although thankfully women have begun to stand up for themselves in similar situations. The ending of this particular film irks me though. Why can’t she beat the hell out of her husband? Why doesn’t she take some of that hot coffee to her mother-in-law’s face? She has these things at her fingertips, but she’s enslaved to tradition. I don’t know. It really bothers me, she never says anything to her neighbor about the abuse, not to the older French woman, and not to the bus-driver. Instead, she just walks right back into her house, ignorantly thinking that because her husband finally told his mother to shut up for an instant that he’s changed.
Films like this, Not Without My Daughter, and Persepolis, have been shining light on Middle-Eastern cultures as of late. Although there’s an inherent problem in these films that stereotypes and tears down to an extent the culture under which they live. It’s a paradoxical way of life, really, as there’s nothing in the Qur’an that says to beat your wives – just like there’s nothing in the Christian bible specifically advocates violence against gays. There’s this sort of horrifying gap between text and practice that’s really sort of plagued our interpretations of these works as humans. I imagine at some point it sounded good to a Muslim man to beat his wife and Ayatollahs like Khomeini just reinforce the submissive stereotype by writing all these laws against a free woman. I’m reading this article for another class about seminal texts to make a classroom understand the roles Muslim women have taken in society to contradict Western stereotypes. Lori Cohen states “The Qur’an provides clear-cut evidence that woman is completely equated with man in the sight of God in terms of her rights and responsibilities” (Cohen 22). This doesn’t necessarily dethrone the problem that remains; i.e. just because the Qur’an doesn’t condone these things, we still need to focus on their occurrence regardless. There seems to be a suggested ignorance in that these women should be revolting widely, when quite obviously it’s more difficult than that. However, I would say that much of the “problem” of women having freedom as females in Muslim society is because of Western influence.
I think that a jealousy of Western society can – not necessarily will – create strife in Middle-Eastern marriages. In this case, a woman is introduced to a few free French female citizens and their customs (specifically the make-up and suggestion of sexuality), and her husband becomes feverishly angry and beats her for knowing these Western things. The pressure on the males in the Middle East to be respectful and quiet has been replaced with a closeted tradition of domestic violence as a way to vent masculine jealousy of Western practices where men also have more freedom. It would seem like time has a lot to do with the onset of this in the film we watched. Even though Maliya Bouia cried after banishing Zouina from her house, she still kept the door shut which suggests that there are secrets these Argentinian families are willing to keep just to keep the peace. And I think these struggles are undercut by the nice way you described the ending – hokey! What is that? “I think I’m going to walk the kids to school tomorrow?” At absolute best, the audience can take that as still a sort of submission or a “foot in the door” sort of thing where she’s standing so far up for herself that she’s going to go out of the house temporarily to take the kids to school. Hell no! I wanted to see her making out with the bus driver, putting on blue jeans, and then punching her husband like she punched through that window. That would’ve been an ending I would’ve liked. Either way, you can’t say that it wasn’t thought-provoking for the majority, the end just puts a lid on its potential.