Going Beyond the Single Story

Fadwa’s story matters because it adds more dimensions to the single-story of Islamic protest that Western media portrays. Instead of news sites showing pictures of her burning body, they showed male protesters in action. We don’t know her story because our society decided it wasn’t inspiring enough to see Islamic women standing up for their rights along with men. How can she be an “oppressed woman” if she has the power of protest? The stereotypes of our culture ignored her story, but in Morocco, she was recognized for her heroic actions. Inspiring women and men around her, she drew attention to the economic disparities in Morocco. Her story matters because, despite the restricted view of the Western media, she still ignited change.

Intergenerational mourning, as explained in Performing Democracy, is the collective sense of loss that is experienced in similar but different ways across generations. Marjane Satrapi documents this phenomenon in Persepolis. Her family history is ripe with protest and mourning, from the arrest of her grandfather, detaining of her father, and murder of her uncle. While a young Marji may have not understood the incarceration of her grandfather (since she did not experience it), she learns about the importance of revolution from the death of her uncle Anoosh. Similar events have spread the mourning onto her generation, and the lives lost before are not forgotten as people of all ages relate the pain of loss to others’ situations.

Persepolis matters to me because I think it is important to widen my view from one single story. It’s crucial for stories like Satrapi’s to be shared in order to go beyond the images of Iran that Western media presents. Hearing the experiences of real people is fundamentally important in bringing this change of perspective.

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