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Reproducing The Virginity Imperative: Women’s Collusion and Men’s Complicity Among Young Iranians living in Montreal

Title:

Reproducing The Virginity Imperative: Women’s Collusion and Men’s Complicity Among Young Iranians living in Montreal

Ghassemi Zavieh, Zahra (Mona) (2017) Reproducing The Virginity Imperative: Women’s Collusion and Men’s Complicity Among Young Iranians living in Montreal. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The present work centres around the question of the virginity imperative, a social contract and regime of power that regulates women’s bodies through disciplinary devices surrounding the socially constructed notion of female virginity. Through participant observation and interviews with young people of Iranian origin residing in Montreal, I explain why the virginity imperative persists among this population. Through description of women’s social navigation (Vigh 2006) of marriage and education, I argue that women’s apparent collusion with restrictive norms does not undermine their agency, but indicates their ability to make decisions that maximize social benefits given their particular circumstances. The argument extends to women’s performance of virginity, which is a face-saving tactic and instrumental in the practice of hypergyny among women I interviewed. Nevertheless, I argue, the virginity imperative operates to categorize women according to a virgin/whore dichotomy, rendering unliveable the lives of those who do not adequately perform virginity. Attitudes that define sex as defiling to women contribute to a gendered politics of knowledge resulting in women’s limited expression of sexuality as compared to men’s, which, along with the patriarchal bargain (Kandiyoti 1988), plays a role in women’s lack of expression of dissent. I argue that men’s preference for virgin women is incompatible with the love marriages they claim to aspire to, and that men lack reflexivity of the consequences for women of attitudes that reinforce the virginity imperative. Bringing an end to these painful consequences requires public discussion to replace their relegation to, and management within, the private sphere.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Sociology and Anthropology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Ghassemi Zavieh, Zahra (Mona)
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Social and Cultural Anthropology
Date:July 2017
Thesis Supervisor(s):Cole, Sally
Keywords:virginity, marriage, Iran, migrant, Montreal, Canada,
ID Code:982960
Deposited By: ZAHRA GHASSEMI ZAVIEH
Deposited On:10 Nov 2017 14:21
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:56
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