Final Project: Mustang (2015)

“Mustang” (2015) is a Turkish movie that follows the life of 5 orphaned sisters growing up in a very traditional family and society. This movie is directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, a female director and it is told through the perspective of Lale, one of the 5 orphaned sisters. This film shows the many cultural restrictions put on women in a conservative society. However, the 5 sisters do not agree with any of these restrictions. Therefore, these five sisters go against social expectations and prove to be strong and brave individuals.

Indeed, many expectations are put on these women as they are expected to become good wives. These women are being forced into conservative housewife roles by their grandmother and uncle. Indeed, these sisters are continuously thought by their grandmother how to cook, take care of their husbands, stay quiet, and not to take too much space in a room. These women are expected to go along with what the conservative society expects from them, such as to wear clothes that cover their entire bodies, to not have relationships with boys until they are set up in an arranged marriage, etc. However, the five sisters do not agree with these social expectations of women. As a result, these sisters go against them forming their own identities.

After a neighbor spots the five sisters playing with boys innocently on the beach, they get punished by their caretakers. Indeed, their grandmother punishes them by hitting them and their uncle punishes them by screaming, insulting, pulling one of the sister’s hair, and forbidding them from leaving the house even for school. This shows that the conservative society unjustly expects certain things from girls and that girls do not have the same privileges as boys. However, these girls form a strong bond with each other as they support one another. These five sisters do not follow the restrictions that are set on them. For instance, they sneak out of their house to attend a soccer match even if they were forbidden to attend this sport. This demonstrates that these girls are strong when they work together. After the girls were forbidden to stay at home, their caretakers started to set them in arranged-marriages even if the girls were unwilling. In the case of Sonay, she got to marry her boyfriend. Indeed, before the marriage, she snuck out of the house several times to go see her boyfriend at night when she was not allowed to go out. After she got set up with a boy that was not her boyfriend, she stood up to her grandmother saying that she will resist and scream if she did not get set up with her boyfriend. This demonstrates Sonay’s strength and her bravery as she stood up for herself and her love.

Unfortunately, it was not everybody that got the marriage they wanted. Indeed, Tugba who did not have a boyfriend was obliged to marry a boy that she did not want to marry. She had just met him when she was introduced to him. In addition, after her marriage, she was expected to have sexual intercourse with her new husband. However, she did not bleed after the sexual activity, which was a big problem for the two families as they automatically thought that Tugba was a “slut” because they thought that she had already lost her virginity. Tugba was unfazed by this, which shows her strength and bravery as a woman. Once the families brought her to the doctor, she explicitly said that she was not a virgin, however, after the doctor’s check-up, he revealed the news that Tugba’s hymen had not yet broken. This shows the double-standard for men and women in conservative societies as women are automatically perceived as “sluts” if they lose their virginity, however, men are not perceived this way. Indeed, Ece, one of the five sisters, did not care about this expectation of women having to be pure at marriage. When she saw a male that she found attractive and him finding her attractive, they had sexual intercourse in her uncle’s car. This shows that Ece is a strong woman that does what she wants to do going against the social expectations of women in her society.

Lale also breaks rules. In fact, she sneaks out of the house several times to learn how to drive. This demonstrates that women can do the same things as men and that no gender is above the other. Indeed, she successfully learns how to drive, which allows her at the end of the movie to drive away with Nur to the city as Nur does want to be married to somebody that she does not love. Indeed, this shows strength and bravery from both Lale and Nur as they go against their society’s expectations of them. This leads them to freedom and gives them the chance to start making all their own decisions in life, which demonstrates women’s strength and bravery. 

In conclusion, these five sisters go against social expectations proving to be strong and brave individuals. Still to this day, women continue to be perceived unequally compared to men in some societies, which is why we have to continue to denounce these injustices and fight for equal rights for men and women all around the world.

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