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Words Not Swords: Iranian Women Writers and the Freedom of Movement (Gender, Culture, and Politics in the Middle East) Hardcover – May 16, 2011
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A brief survey of women in the arts, writing in particular, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and how their political climate affects their portrayal and their voice.
I was drawn to review this book for two reasons. First among them, political Islam is an area I studied, and second, women in Islamic societies intrigue me. Initially I thought that the book would discuss the works of Iranian female writers and the restrictions which their government places upon their work. This book was quite a bit more complex.
Ms. Milani lays out some background information for her book in a rather repetitive introduction. It does not state on the galley I read whether or not it has been edited as of yet, so perhaps a final, tighter copy will emerge. Even as is, her points are interesting enough to keep me moving through the text. A good deal of background information is given regarding the history of veiling, not just in the Muslim world, but in other cultures and faiths as well; she also discusses issues of men and the turban. In the author's opinion, the veil is not the issue so much as the confinement of women, their inability to move freely through their society, and not just physically. It is their voice, as much as their body, which is suppressed.
Iranian tales are discussed in the first section of the book. It is fascinating to see these tales through the lens of a Persian woman and understand how a people's stories can reflect the minutia of a culture. Ms. Milani does not expect her reader to be up on their Middle Eastern folk literature and gives enough background of each for you to follow her points illustrating the immobilization of women.Read more ›