The Gender Dynamics Within Iran Throughout the various texts and films we observed this semester, there were a multitude of underlying themes associated with each. These themes do not live in a textual or film related vacuum, but rather offer major implications on given Middle Eastern cultures. In the fictional film Offside, directed by Jafar Panahi, he decides to zero in on the complex culture within Iran.
He illustrates the culture within Iran by employing the 2006 World Cup qualifying soccer match between Iran and Bahrain as a metaphor of the various social dynamics attached to this sporting event and the country as a whole.That said, there are numerous underlying themes associated with this film. In this paper, however, I will primarily address the theme regarding gender issues and briefly cover the existence of a generational gap within Iran. Most of the film’s opening deals with an teenage girl on a minibus headed to the soccer match. While on the bus, she is attempting be extremely inconspicuous because post-Islamic Revolution Iranian policy does not allow for women to attend soccer matches.
This statute is based on the grounds of women not being fit to observe the rowdy behavior, profane language, and informal attire exhibited by men at these events. Presumably, this somehow violates Islamic law (Saberi “Iran Bans Women”). After arriving at the stadium, she buys a ticket from someone selling an assortment of items outside the venue. Discrimination is immediately evident when she has to pay for an 8000 tomans ticket and 1000 tomans poster directly after she sees a man buy only a ticket for Just 5000 tomans. Her disguise is then snuffed out by a soldier soon after she passes the gates and enters the stadium.One could tell she is extremely frustrated and does not truly know why she cannot attend the game as she adamantly says to soldier, “what difference will it make? No one’ll know’ (Panahi Offside). The girl is then taken to a section of the stadium where the field is not visible and there are five other adolescent girls who also got caught. These girls are barricaded by gates and supervised by soldiers.
One of the woman asks the soldier, who seems to be in a leadership position, why they cannot enter the stadium. He flatly responds, “there are lots of men in there… theyll be cursing and swearing” (Panahi).This statement is reflective of Iranian political culture that keeps women from attending men’s soccer matches essentially under the premise of women not being suited to ake part in such a “manly’ event, and vice versa.
The girls in this film challenge that premise as they are Just as engaged, knowledgable, and excited as it pertains to the soccer match. Despite not being able to actually watch the game, the girls are able to hear the pandemonium from the match. Furthermore, the girls are somewhat relished by the informal commentating done by a soldier during parts of the game.When doing so, the viewer can tell that the girls are actually invested into this match as they follow up the soldier with various questions regarding the plays happening and the players competing. Not only does this scene portray the genuine interest of the girls with the match, but also the leniency of the soldiers supervising them. The soldier clearly was detainment more comfortable.
Although the soldiers were not particularly polite, they still had the power to treat the women much worse by physically harming them, not commentating, prohibiting bathroom use, etc.The belief amongst some of the non-military men in this film seems to suggest the young women would endure severe consequences for sneaking into the match, which did not happen at all. For instance, the man on the minibus vehemently warns the irl about getting caught at the stadium and tries to help her as he seems to be legitimately worried for her wellbeing. Also, the ticker scalper fretfully asks the if she “know[s] what they’ll do if they catch [her]? ” (Panahi).
This implies the public perception of the militarys enforcement of this law is extremely strict and violating it is very much unsafe.However, the actions of the soldiers in their treatment of the girls suggests otherwise. At the end of the movie, the girls and soldiers are celebrating with all the Iranian people in the streets after the huge win, which provides the notion that these young women got off scot-free. Perhaps Panahi is symbolizing fear tactics practiced by the government in order to promote law abiding citizens. The soldier who appears to be in the leadership position is greatly concerned with going on military leave as he tells a girl, “[he] should be on leave… t’s [her] fault [he’s] on duty here” (Panahi).
More than detaining these girls, he is concerned with moving back to his village and taking care of his family. The only reason he is detaining the girls is because “[he] [has] responsibilities” and “[he’ll] be punished” if he releases them (Panahi). There seems to be an evident discrepancy within the Iranian ierarchy as it pertains to the legal policy prohibiting women from attending men’s soccer events. The soldiers at the game who enforce the policy do not personally seem supportive of it.Rather, it appears the soldiers Just want to appease their chief by holding these girls as opposed to actually understanding and being a proponent of this segregation law.
In addition to the gender issue Offside depicts, it also presents the issue of there being a generational gap amongst Iranians in regards to their ideals. At the beginning of the film, there is a elderly father headed to the match in order to find his daughter at the event. He eventually makes his way to the place where the girls are detained in hopes of gaining information on his daughter’s whereabouts.
One of the girls, Akram, detained knows his daughter and she immediately takes the hat and Iranian flag off her head and puts on her veil when he arrives. She is clearly extra considerate of how she presents herself to the older man by attempting to dress in a more traditional way. When Akram tells the father that his daughter is inside the stadium, he attempts to slap her, but the young male soldier prevents him from doing so. The father exclaims “[Akram] needs slapping! ” As the leading soldier keeps is hands off her, he asserts, “you don’t hit a woman! ” (Panahi).Ironically, the young soldiers who are in an authoritative position over the girls view them as equals more so than an everyday citizen like the elderly father.
Panahi implicitly expresses how the younger generation has a much more progressive and equitable outlook on gender dynamics in which encourages inclusion instead of a more traditional outlook that encourages exclusion and segregation. generational disparity contain the most relevance and vitality. Panahi is able to simultaneously address both issues in certain scenes of the movie, such as the one xplained in the above paragraph.Given that the younger generation is generally more openminded to including women at men’s soccer matches and are against physically harming them, it gives the viewer and the Iranian population hope of men and women being treated impartially in the future. By the end of the film, when the robust crowd of Iranians are celebrating the win in the congested streets, gender differences are set aside while national unity is put forward. Through this film, Panahi is urging for an united Iran, which cannot be achieved unless men and women are on a equal playing field.