To understand my final project, you need to understand some things about my upbringing. There is a concept in most Muslim societies called Namoos, also spelled Namus. It is an Arabic word for “virtue,” especially related to a man’s female family members and their honor.
If you are a woman growing up in Iran, you face an intense amount of mental and emotional pressure surrounding this concept you have to do your best to keep your honor intact. You get reminded that you are playing with your family’s Namoos if you do not do what society believes is the correct behavior for a woman.
You feel this suffocation on your chest and around your heart. You are constantly worrying about what to wear and how you present yourself to a society that will judge you no matter what. You have to be careful who you talk to and watch what you say, or you will be labeled a whore.
When you are a woman and live in Iran, you feel this constant need to cry, but you can never really act on it; because you know if you do, no one will ever take you seriously again. You know that you will stop functioning if you let yourself feel the pain. You have to endure the pain and push it down to the darkest corners of your mind to be able to get through life. To get to a point where you know it is safe to talk about your feelings.
It is painful to go through something and not be able to talk about it. There is this constant feeling that the government would have erased women if it could. But the Islamic Republic is based on the oppression of women, if we were to take that away from it, the government would crumble down into ashes.
In the video, I have made I try to give a face to the fear I have felt as a female artist living in Iran. I try to talk about all the feelings associated with that fear without using the word, though it is not easy to summarize that fear into one piece of art.
© Shahrzad Hamzeh