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Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  178 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Drawing from a rich array of visual and literary material from nineteenth-century Iran, this groundbreaking book rereads and rewrites the history of Iranian modernity through the lens of gender and sexuality. Peeling away notions of a rigid pre-modern Islamic gender system, Afsaneh Najmabadi provides a compelling demonstration of the centrality of gender and sexuality to t ...more
Kindle Edition, 377 pages
Published (first published 2005)
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Khashayar Mohammadi
Fantastic book. Najmabadi draws on numerous sources from the 19th century to prove that the heteronomalization of love in Iran was a direct result of Iran's relations with Europe during the nineteenth century.

The cover art shows two faces, completely identical in shape and form; the gendre of each figure is only understood through the headgear worn. This genderlessness of art can also be seen in Ancient greek sculptures or even 15th century Japanese art. It seems that heteronormative love, and i
Sash Chiesa
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Relying primarily on textual references & visual representations, mainly-art and poetry, Afsaneh Najmabadi convincingly argues, how interaction with Europe changed the sexual landscape of Iran during the nineteenth-century, transforming the normalcy of homoerotic desires and practices into an abominable act and a national shame, ultimately culminating into heteronormalization. And, how the Iranian modernists came to accept the standards of European modernity and civilization. Najmabadi also ...more
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As an Iranian I found this book really useful. First and most, this book gave me an general idea about the development of sexuality in my culture and how much it was different. to be honest I had no idea about most of the aspects that Najmabadi mentioned in her book. The book slides very smoothly from discussing sexuality to gender studies of Iranian culture and by the last chapters you know the general idea and of course can deduce what the author is going to mention. This is so amazing as the ...more
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Feminists, Historians, Students of the Middle East
Recommended to Michael by: Karen Hagemann
I read this book late in my career as a grad student in history, and it was one of the better recent studies I saw demonstrating the use of gender as a category of analysis where previous scholars had found little to say about gender or even women. "The sources," feminist historians are frequently told, "are all about men." Najmabadi turns this conception of its head, as she demonstrates that Iranian notions of gender, gender-desire, and the role of women were far more fluid traditionally, and o ...more
Nov 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: iran
Najmabadi draws upon visual and literary material from nineteenth-century Iran during the Qajar period to demonstrate the centrality of gender and sexuality to the shaping of modern culture and politics in Iran. Najmabadi’s book has transformed and moved beyond the traditional historiography of gender in Muslim societies. Unlike other feminist historians of Iran who have traditionally been dedicated to exploring the role of women and their agency within heterosexual and patriarchal relations of ...more
Najmabadi is the historian I aspire to be. This book is fabulously researched and written.
Apr 18, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Free PDF? Don't mind if I do!
Navid Naderi
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best histories of Iranian modernity and of 19th century Iran that pays particular attention to gender and sextuality. Highly recommended even if you are not particularly interested in Iranian history--this is a great analysis of modernity (whose other name might be globalatinization) as heteronormalization of eros, as the necessary violence for the establishment of heteronormative family as the habitat of homo modernus (that is to say homo economicus).
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not exactly ideal summer reading, but definitely must-read for anyone interested in gender/sexuality in the Middle East. I particularly enjoyed her analysis regarding nationalism and heteronormativity/gender.
Apr 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women's/Gender/Sexuality Studies, historians
Recommended to Amy by: Read it for "History of Masculinities" with Louise Newman
This book's argument is pretty convincing, engaging, interesting, etc., but it's not the most well-written or well-organized book I've ever read. I think she uses too much passive voice and should have moved this one chapter to the back, but whatever.
5* for the title.
Vasili Birlidis
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-a-class
Read for WOH 4204 - Modern Masculinities with Prof. Newman (third year, University of Florida, Spring 2016).
Mar 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
REALLY interesting argument! Very clear examples of using gender as a analysis rather than simply "recovering gender" from the past.
Nov 05, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I just love this title
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Afsāneh Najmābādi (Persian: افسانه نجمآبادی) (born 1946) is an Iranian-American historian and gender theorist. She is professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University. At present she chairs the Committee on Degrees in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She is further Associate Editor of Encyclopaedia of Women and Islamic Cultures, in six volumes.

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“A unified Iran is constituted not only politically but also affectively. Liberty and constitutional rule bring "Affection among us." The affective sentiment- that of bonding among differing brothers-produces political bonds of national unity and was associatively linked with other desires. Perhaps foremost was the desire to care for and defend the mother, in particular her bodily integrity. The same words were commonly used to discuss territory and the female body. Laura Mulvey calls these words keys "that could turn either way between the psychoanalytic and the social" (1980, 180). They are not "just words" that open up to either domain; they mediate between these domains, taking power of desire from one to the other. More appropriately, they should be considered cultural nodes of psyhosocial condensation. Tajavuz, literally meaning transgression, expresses both rape and the invasion of territory. Another effective expression, as already noted, was Khak-i pak-i vatan, the pure soil of the homeland. The word used for "pure," pak, is saturated with connotations of sexual purity. Linked to the idea of the purity of a female vatan was the metaphoric notion of the "skirt of chastity" (daman-i 'iffat) and its purity-whether it was stained or not. It was the duty of Iranian men to protect that skirt. The weak and sometimes dying figure of motherland pleaded t her dishonorable sons to arise and cut the hands of foreigners from her skirt. Expressing hope for the success of the new constitutional regime by recalling and wishing away the horrors of previous years, an article in Sur-o Israfil addressed Iran in the following terms: "O Iran! O our Mother! You who have given us milk from the blood of your veins for many long years, and who have fed us with the tissues of your own body! Will we ever live to see your unworthy children entrust your skirt of chastity to the hands of foreigners? Will our eyes ever see foreigners tear away the veil of your chastity?” 0 likes
“Even women deeply committed to the emancipatory promises of modernity were alarmed by the "inappropriateness" of unrelated men and omen socializing in the streets. In the women's press, articles exhorted young men to treat women respectfully in public. Other articles encouraged women to act as their own police and to be more observant of their hijab and public modesty.

From the beginning, then, women's entry on the streets was subject to the regulatory harassment of men. The modernist heterosocializing promise that invited women to leave their homosocial spaces and become educated companionate partners for modernist men was underwritten by policing of women's public presence through men's street actions. Men at once desired heterosociality of the modern and yet would not surrender the privileged masculinity of the streets. Women's public presence was also underwritten by disciplinary approbation of modernizing women themselves whose emancipatory drive would be jeopardized by unruly public conduct.”
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