Ethnocentrism: value difference

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Ethnocentrism is defined as the practice of holding of one’s judgment of another culture based on one’s standards which are based on one’s culture. In the movie, the use of archaic law is exemplified in the process of justifying a wrong (Nowrasteh, 2008). The consequences of the actions of the husband of Soraya indicate the challenge of culture. The Iranian culture encourages stoning of women accused of infidelity. However, in the movie the challenge is that the accusations by the husband are not proved but the law takes cause leading to the death of an innocent mother.

The director of the move is believed to approach the challenge of women’s rights in Iran using blunt gratuitous violence. This approach reveals the lack of understanding of Iranian culture and evaluation of the culture based on western culture. The difference is that the western culture does not encourage the use of death as a penalty for infidelity. However, even in the western world the repercussions of infidelity have been serious sometimes leading to the death of the spouse. The challenge of the lack of understanding led to the development of a movie plot that does not clearly depict the challenge faced by women in Iran. In fact, the movie does not create a passion for change from the viewers but empathy. Empathy does not lead to change in ethnocentrism but may lead to reservation on cultures. Some cultural practices need to be evaluated based on equality and justice.

In the case of Soraya, justice and equality were nonexistent because the judgement was passed using rumors and accusations. This approach may have worked in the Iranian setting but may not work in another setting. Some of the cultural issues in the movie can be related to other occurrences in the Middle East which revolves around creating a notion that women are lesser humans which makes it a nuisance. For instance, in Saudi Arabia, a woman driving has always banned or when allowed they had to be accompanied by a male in the car making it difficult for single women to drive unless escorted. Such approaches in culture make it difficult for women to experience independence like in other countries. Such issues make Western culture be viewed as superior and accommodating compared to other culture. From the standpoint of a westerner, Iranian culture is tantamount to oppression. In the movie case, it was the oppression of women which may be difficult to implement in other cultures.

In Western culture, accusations of infidelity may not be taken seriously especially where concrete evidence is not presented. Even if it exists, the worst case scenario is divorce. Personal harm may not be instigated by the arbitrator and even if the husband engages in a physical attack, the law may side with the woman. This was not the case in the movie due to the different culture presented. From personal experience, ethnocentrism exists when there is a gulf of difference in values. Values are an intricate part of culture (Capucao, 2010). If women empowerment is not a value in a culture, the culture will tend to oppress women. Likewise, when cultures encourage equality, everyone will experience equality when dispensing justice. Therefore, ethnocentrism exists greatly when looking at decisions made in the various culture because the viewpoint may be from a different culture with a different set of values.

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  1. Capucao, D. D. (2010). Religion and Ethnocentrism: An Empirical-Theological Study. Chicago: BRILL.
  2. Nowrasteh, C. (Director). (2008). The Stoning of Soraya M. [Motion Picture].
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