Bradley, represents the Oijbwe and Dakota people who are Indians. Minnesota’s most enduring languages are in danger of disappearing (Indian Affairs Council, 1). The painting tries to dispel the myths and stereotypes cast on Indians.
The visual artwork of Shirin Neshat, “The Rebellious Silence”, is a visual art showing a Muslim woman in a Hijab with her face full of calligraphy and a gun in front of her. The art has a religious theme as seen in the Islamic/Arabic calligraphy. The art expresses oppression, submission and division as seen by the gun between (Sayre 20).
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The Rebellious Silence fascinates me more due to the use of Arabic writings. Neshat does not so much put across herself, but with the medium through which Allah (God) can express himself in the most beautiful manner (Sayre, 20); through the dress code and the expression of sacred feel surrounding the portrait.
Neshat’s artwork reflects the Islamic society, and in particular Iran where she was born. The portrait is gender-based and is mostly focused on Islamic traditions and practice. There exists contrast between the calligraphy text on the paintings of women and lack of freedom of speech. The artistic work of Neshat speaks silently, trying to show that Muslim women have a lot to say, but they cannot voice their grievances. Muslim women continue to be denied freedom of expression by their religion. The painting represents a war that they are fighting towards achieving equality and against oppression. The title of Neshat’s painting "Women of Allah" depicts that women are equal to men in all aspects. Hijab is a Muslim word that defines the dress code for everybody in the Muslim faith. It dictates that a woman must completely cover herself except for the eyes. They share the belief that a woman’s sexuality needs to be protected in order to prevent her from being used as a sex object (Sayre 21). Therefore, Muslim women should at all times be dressed in burqa, chador, shayla and khimar among other forms of dressing. It is also perceived that the dressing protects them from being lustfully admired by other men. Both male and female can be admired by the opposite gender. The form of dressing, therefore, should not be oppressive.
Neshat’s work recognizes the impact of intellectualism and religion in the lives Muslim women. Her works focus on Muslim women all over the world. Among them, their behavior is publicly and privately controlled by the religious stricture. According to the culture of Muslims and the Quran, both men and women are equal, though their roles differ (Sayre 21). Religiously, according to the artwork, women have fewer rights than men. Whereas women are allowed to go to church, they are not allowed to stand with men in the mosque. They are only allowed to lead their fellow women in prayers. The culture of the Muslim women prevents them from accessing employment in the private sector. This can be attributed to the roles of being mothers and good wives.
Conclusively, from the women of Allah, it is evident that much contrast exists in the lives of Muslim women. On one side, even the Quran preaches equality of the sexes, but on the other side, women still experience oppression. Not only do they have fewer opportunities in matters of education and employment, but also in religion. Muslim women are expected to be faithful to their husbands and be good mothers to their children. This prevents most of them from pursuing their careers. According to their culture, Muslim men are allowed to marry up to four wives leading to further questioning of the equality. If true equality exists, it is expected that one woman should be sufficient for one man. In the mosques, women cannot lead men in prayers. They rarely are given leadership positions in the religion. Even in the world today, the number of male Muslim missionaries differs greatly from the number of female ones. Politically, the Muslim culture has continued to oppress women by not believing in them. Muslim women are rarely seen participating in active national politics as compared to their male counterparts. Thus, we see in one of the paintings a drawing of a Muslim woman fighting for equality and against the oppression.
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