Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Veiled Sexuality and Obsession in Two Women
The film Two Women rehashes many of the themes that we have discussed in regard to women in the Middle East. We should keep in mind when discussing this film that Iran, like Saudi Arabia, must be investigated in context, with attention paid to the Islamic Regime that works as an oppressive force throughout the nation, especially in terms of women. This film is a study, not a microcosm of women's issues in the Middle East as a whole.
Though not featured overtly as an article of clothing, the veil as a concept is at the center of Two Women. Most of the protagonist's problems stem from her desirability, a quality meant to be protected and stifled by state mandated dress code. Her persistent suitor on the motorbike is so crazed by his want for her that he throws acid on her cousin because he thinks he's her boyfriend and then follows her from Tehran all the way to the village of her birth. After running her off the road and causing an accident that results in the death of a child, he is convicted of harassment and manslaughter, then thrown in jail, only to return at the end of the film to seek his revenge. During his testimony in court, he cites his passionate love for the protagonist as the reason for his behavior. He appeals to the emotions of those in the courtroom and expects the men, especially, to sympathize. That this defense could even be a possibility is ludicrous and demonstrates the institutionalization of such beliefs regarding women. The men in this film, including the protagonist's eventual husband, seem hypnotized by the female entity. By casting these characters as such, the film works to point out the hypersexualization that occurs when women are forbidden by virtue of their veiled-ness.