The state of women in Islamic societies is the subject of much interest and heated debate. Yet, these discussions and representations in the media and elsewhere rely on inadequate information and misperceptions, imagining Muslim women as oppressed victims in need of liberation by outside forces. 'Becoming Visible in Iran' disputes these widespread stereotypes, providing a vivid account of women in contemporary Iran as they go about their daily lives. Beginning at home, women are infusing dramatic change by challenging the patriarchal conceptions of their fathers, brothers, uncles and others within the intimate sphere of family and home. Empowered by education, they transport the power of their minds and being from the domestic to the public and political. Mehri Honarbin-Holliday presents the experiences of these young women who wield a key if indirect political influence on the seemingly male dominated politics of this society, as they achieve a new visibility. She shows us how women understand their place in contemporary Iranian society, and how they interrogate it, making demands for shifts in attitudes and behaviours, both at home in relation to male relatives and in the wider world. Women's daily existence weaves between the public and the private, from home to classrooms, parks, metros, cafes and taxis, negotiating socio-political limitations and the current regime's policies of female invisibility. Detailed interviews and striking narratives draw our attention to the women's reflexive and critical stance and their desires to be recognized as independent and active architects of their own personal lives, whilst also contributing to the discourses of change and a more just civil society. From this fieldwork, and focusing especially on young women, Honarbin-Holliday presents women's views on such key topics as public visibility, body presentation, and sexual curiosity, in addition to education, civil society and political and social change. Highlighting links and continuities with the history of women in Iran, from the early twentieth century to the present moment, she shows how Iranian women today strive: to be the author of one's fate, to resist narrow interpretations of religion, to conduct meaningful, rich and complex lives, to bring about change in the mindsets of male relatives, and to contribute to legal and political debates in the country. For its direct presentation of women's voices as well as its analysis and insight, this book is a vital contribution to our understanding of the lives of Muslim women and the possibilities before them today. 'Becoming Visible in Iran' is indispensable for those concerned with women in Islamic societies, gender studies, sociology, anthropology as well as Iran and the Middle East.
Becoming Visible in Iran
Women in Contemporary Iranian Society