Tag Archives: Not Without My Daughter

A plot twist to the “Not Without My Daughter” scenario.

To recap, the movie “Not Without my Daughter” is about an American woman (and her daughter) who needs to escape from her husband in Iran. This film has now apparently set a precedent for the fate of all Western-women who date/marry Middle-Eastern men (sarcasm intended). I discuss this particular phenomenon in one of my previous posts titled “Not Without My Daughter”.

Given the way in which this film has depicted Iran, I can imagine how it could seem somewhat unfathomable for a woman of Western origin to live in Iran with her Iranian husband and children by choice. Nonetheless, I met such a woman during my travels in Iran.

This woman I met was from England. Her husband was originally from Iran, but held a British citizenship. The couple has two children: a teenage son and a daughter under the age of 10. This woman told me that it took her a long time to convince her husband to move their family to Iran. Her Iranian husband was, at least at first, against moving with his wife and children to his motherland. When I asked the woman why she chose to move to Iran, she answered with the following simple statement- “to have a better life”. Usually this answer is the precise reason why Iranian people choose to live abroad.

The woman told me that her children faced racism at school in England from both peers AND teachers. The entire family unit experienced racism and Islamohobia in England. She went on to follow that neither she nor her children experienced any such racism in Iran. She also told me that the financial position of the family was improved by moving to Iran- her husband was able to make a greater profit, giving his wife the opportunity to work less and spend more time on their children, as well as giving the whole family an opportunity to travel more.

I am sure that there are unfortunate fates of Western women like that of Betty Mahmoody (the protagonist of the film “Not Without My Daughter”); the movie is after all based on a true story. Conversely I also presume that there are Western women, like the woman I spoke to, who have exercised their free will and have chosen to lead a happy life with their family in Iran. The only difference is that Hollywood won’t make a movie out of the fate of the woman I spoke to, as it did with the unfortunate fate of Betty Mahmoody.

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Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled“Introduction…”.

“Not Without My Daughter”

Image- http://video.xbox.com/en-us/movie/not-without-my-daughter/e6269361-7536-4d88-9662-84201899550d

As soon as I tell people about my religious background and my husband’s religious background, I either get some sort of silence or enjoy a series of unfortunate questions (Which one of you had to convert? What are your kids going to be?), my personal favourite being:

” But haven’t you seen the movie ‘Not Without My Daughter’?”

For those of you who have not watched the film, the synopsis goes something like this: an American woman marries an Iranian man and they have a daughter together. After some time the man convinces his wife to visit his homeland. Once they arrive he tells his wife that they will remain in Iran forever. The woman and her child need to find a way to escape Iran.

If I had a penny for every single time someone had the nerve to bring up this Hollywood adaptation of a docudrama and compare it to my life, I would be a millionaire. People really felt the need to explain how my fate would be the same as the protagonist played by Sally Fiends in a Hollywood movie. Can I just start off by saying that I DON’T EVEN HAVE A DAUGHTER…

It wasn’t just random people who were asking me this, people who were close to me would ask me this question out of sincere concern about my safety and wellbeing. In my previous post I talked about intolerance and inquisitiveness. I am going to go ahead and categorise this loaded question that I was receiving (and sometimes continue to receive) as intolerant rather than inquisitive. The person asking the question often hadn’t even met my husband/fiancé/boyfriend (whoever my now-husband was to me at the time) but was already making a presumption about him based on a Hollywood-made stereotype, based on one piece of information alone- his nationality.

I have to say that I don’t think that the intolerance of the asker was intentional, but even this ‘unintentional intolerance’ still managed to rub me the wrong way. I understand that people were not trying to upset me- their question came out really naturally like someone commenting on how nice the weather is on a sunny day. For this reason, I didn’t really know how to answer the question without losing my cool and without being offensive (for those of you who know me and know me well, can understand that this was a challenge for me).

At first I used to engage in some sort of a logical dialogue. I tried to explain to people that Hollywood doesn’t always aptly represent reality, and that not everyone is the same. I asked people not to make stereotypes, I gave them examples of stereotypes that are not an accurate representation of reality e.g. I’m Russian, but don’t drink vodka with my breakfast… but then I thought not to waste my breath on what I believe to be common sense (which apparently isn’t so common). So on one occasion, I came up with what I thought to be the best response possible to this question. Allow me to demonstrate:

Question: “Have you seen the movie ‘Not Without My Daughter’?”

Answer: “Yes… Now, have you seen the Disney movie ‘The Lion King’? Isn’t it awful what Scar does to Mufasa and Simba?”

My answer elicited the best response possible. Laughter. Understanding. Recognition. People would laugh at me and at my response and then at themselves and at their question. They immediately understood that comparing my life and fate to ‘Not Without My Daughter’ was just as farfetched as comparing it to Disney’s ‘The Lion King’. It was truly a groundbreaking moment for me AND for them. I kept my cool, my integrity and dignity (I only swore a little bit, I promise), and they willingly dismantled a stereotype through which they perceived a person who they hadn’t even met. Hopefully they removed the stereotype all together and it will no longer serve to cloud their perception.

I don’t think that this moment of clarity is an example of building tolerance. Again, I think it is an example of dismantling intolerance, even if it is unintentional or subconscious.

~

Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled “Introduction…”.