GENDER EQUALITY 7
Genderequality is a controversial and trendy topic, mainly propagated byfeminists who believe that men and women should receive equaltreatment. Since immemorial, many cultures, deliberately fail toassociate women in the leadership and workforce positions becausethey are considered as weak persons. However, the last half of thetwentieth century is different because women have made significantprogress towards achieving gender freedom thanks to the internationalwomen’s movement. The movement has managed to convinceconservatives that women are capable leaders and forces for changingand shaping the economy. The movement has been advocating for theeradication of social, political, and religious beliefs that restrictfull exploitation of women labor. In the movie, Not WithoutMy Daughter (Brian Gilbert, 1984),Betty Mahmoody (Sally Fields) illustrates the capability of astrong-willed woman after successfully escaping from her husband’scustody in Iran. The objective of this essay is proving that womenare ready for gender equality worldwide.
“NotWithout My Daughter (Brian Gilbert, 1984)” was inspired by reallife experiences of Betty Mahmoody. Betty was an American citizen.She meets and falls in love with an Iranian physician, Sayed Bozorg"Moody" Mahmoody (Alfred Molina). Betty has two sons from aprevious relationship, and then she conceives a daughter with Moody.The daughter is called Mahtob Moody (Sheila Rosenthal). In the UnitedStates, Moody treats Betty respectfully and with gender equality.However, Moody has problems sustaining a full time job because of hisconflicting political views. He plans to return to Iran – hishomeland – in the company of his wife and daughter because hethought he could get better treatment. Nonetheless, he only informshis wife and daughter that they would be going to Iran for a two-weekvisit since his family were eager in meeting his American family(Mahmoody & Hoffer, 1988).
Uponarriving in Iran, Mahtob experiences a new and strict culture thathas tough rules against women. Besides, she discovered that men haveabsolute power in Iran, so she was under complete mercy of herhusband. The relatives who come to meet her at the airport come witha long black dress and a headscarf since women are supposed to coverup their faces completely. Besides, she is expected to be submissiveto her husband such that she should follow his proposition withoutobjection irrespective whether she supports the motion or not. Herfirst dilemma in the unequal society begins after Mahmoody announcesthat they were staying permanently in Iran. Betty felt short-changedbecause Moody had not informed her that they were migratingpermanently to Iran. In the later chapters, it emerges out thatMoody’s license for practicing medicine in the US had beensuspended. He wanted to get a new permit for working in Iran.However, Betty confronts him demanding that she and her daughterwanted to return to the United States. Unluckily, Iranian policiesrecognize fathers as the legal custodians of children. This impliesthat Betty could leave Iran, but she could not take Mahtob with her.Both the US Embassy and the smugglers made it clear that she couldnot take the child with her (Mahmoody & Hoffer, 1988).
Theentire misunderstanding in the movie results from gender inequalitypolicies in Iran. The director, Brian Gilbert, portrays the Iranianculture as male dominated and with no sense for gender equality.Betty had to stay at home, just like other housewives, when Moodyleft for work at the hospital. In addition, Moody had set spies formonitoring her movements and contacts with the intention ofpreventing her from escaping (Mahmoody & Hoffer, 1988). Onseveral occasion, her husband physically and emotionally abused heras he claimed she was very stubborn.
Anothersymbol of gender inequality in the movie portrayed in the movieinclude presence of religious police (mutaween) who are in charge ofensuring that women are dressed appropriately. All the policeofficers are men, and yet they are supposed to ensure that women aredressed accordingly. While her captive stay in Tehran, Betty wasstopped by the morality police at least three times for minordressing issues such as her hair was visible beneath her headscarfand her socks were falling. However, the law is discriminativebecause it does require men to cover their faces and body completely(Mahmoody & Hoffer, 1988). Women are denied the right of choosingthe appropriate outfit in the name of respecting the Islamicreligious and family code.
Priorto embarking on a journey to Iran, Moody swore with the Holy Koranthat they would return to the United States after a couple of weeks.Besides, he promised that he would ensure that both Betty and Mahtobwould not be vulnerable to any form of risk during the visit(Mahmoody & Hoffer, 1988). However, Moody breaks his promiseafter arriving in Tehran. Betty finds it hard to withstand herhusband because he suddenly became autocratic as he was obligated byhis culture. He had absolute power for making family decisionswithout consulting his wife as it was in the United States.
Insummary, gender inequality is a major theme in “Not without MyDaughter (Brian Gilbert, 1984)”. Moody manages to prevent his wifeand daughter from returning o the United States, as was their will,because the Iranian family policies bestow absolute control of a manover his wife.
Mahmoody,B., & Hoffer, W. (1988). Notwithout my daughter.New York: St. Martin`s Paperbacks.