Older Iranian Muslim women’s experiences of sex and sexuality: A biographical approach

Elham Amini, Mark McCormack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Muslim women in Iran live in a patriarchal society which significantly restricts their freedom and agency. While there is a growing understanding of social change as it relates to younger Muslim women in Iran, the perspectives and experiences of older women are marginalized; mirroring problems with the intersections of age, gender and sexuality in the West. In order to address this occlusion, this article draws on life history interviews with 30 older Muslim women living in Tehran and Karaj. Adopting a biographical life course approach, and examining pivotal moments related to sexuality in their lives, we discuss how cultural meanings and symbols of sexuality have emerged and been negotiated by these women at the life stages of puberty, first sex at marriage, and menopause. The patriarchal and religious gender order of Iran transgresses these women’s human rights so that sexuality is experienced as a source of shame, stigma and pollution, yet the women also exert forms of agency in their lives as they adopt and challenge these norms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-314
JournalThe British Journal of Sociology
Volume72
Issue number2
Early online date20 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • aging
  • gender
  • Iran
  • sexuality
  • shame
  • stigma
  • women

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