Bottom Line

As we discussed in class, Shirin Ebadi’s writing style and story is particularly interesting because it’s a completely foreign culture, yet she never goes out of her way to make sense of her lifestyle and upbringing. As a westerner, I clearly recognize the differences, yet at the same time she recognizes she doesn’t have to justify or relate how she was raised to make it something I understand. She simply states facts as they happen, and it’s up to the reader to relate it or make sense of it. It puts a certain level of expectation on the reader, similar to War, instead of feeding readers the opinions or feelings they’re “supposed” to experience based on what they’ve read.

For example, when she talks about her family dynamic, she never tries to bring western expectations into the equation. She just explains what she was used to. In her household, she didn’t experience the traditional family’s emphasis on the son. But she never observed that her household was special. She didn’t experience limitations or less attention as most girls did growing up in Iran.

But as she got older, she realized that being intelligent and having a career made it difficult to marry in a still strongly patriarchal society. “Bottom line: my career struck fear in the hearts of Iranian men.” She doesn’t expect pity or anything else—just describing what is normal in her eyes and in her country. Again when she goes to law school, she observes how involved the students are with politics. It’s unusual from my perspective, at least, to have a judge uninvolved in politics. But Ebadi just accepts it as the way she was raised, and even attributes it as an advantage for the test.

As a lawyer she tells her story very matter-of-factly and with great detail, almost as if giving a witness account. It makes it really interesting to read about her life when she tells it from almost an objective perspective (very difficult when referring to your own personal story).  Iran Awakening is so interesting because it not only tells the story of an outlier, but also provides insight into a culture so important for the United States to understand at this time. There are so many misconceptions and misnomers about the middle east in our country, having Ebadi’s interpretation as an intellectual and native Iranian makes for an incredible read.


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