In the Nancy Drew mystery series, whenever the subject of marriage arises, Nancy interrupts the conversation or changes it altogether. Rather than discuss or confront issues of sexuality, Nancy forestalls any mention of marriage and the ensuing responsibilities (and identity shifts) that it—and mid-century womanhood in general—implies. Interruption, as both a conversational tactic and a social act, can be used by women to assert agency. Thus for Nancy, interruption is a means of holding off her impending womanhood and extending the enviable position she now maintains—that of girl sleuth.
Michael G. Cornelius
Arab scholarship of sexuality is currently emerging against many obstacles. This article provides a suggestive introduction to the current state of knowledge in the area. After briefly sketching an archetype of Arab sexuality, especially its peculiar form of phallocracy, new sexual trends are reviewed, some of which adapt current practices to Shari'a law (e.g., visitation marriages), while others break with it altogether (e.g., prostitution). The article then discusses three distinctive areas of public and policy concerns in the region, namely, honor killings, impotence and Viagra use, and sex-education programs that are precipitated by concerns over HIV/AIDS. The essay concludes with an assessment of some of the main challenges still facing research into the topic in the Arab Islamic world.
Women, Dress and Sexuality in Iran
Functioning as a socio-political resource and method of discipline and control over women's bodies and sexualities, mandatory Islamic dress in Iran has been a central feature of the Islamic Regime's policy towards women. Intended to stand as a symbolic discourse of women's social and sexual submissiveness and docility, those who resist dress codes are subjected to severe punishment as well as stigmatisation. Despite repercussions, increasing numbers of urban Iranian women are refashioning their public bodies in new styles and appearances to not only resist dress codes but to more importantly challenge the regime's patriarchal discourses regarding women. This article seeks to examine the politicisation of Iranian women's bodies and sexualities through the emergence of this innovating women's resistance movement termed 'alternative dress'.
Normative Sexuality in Post-1966 Romania
Erin K. Biebuyck
This article examines several sex manuals from Nicolae Ceauşescu’s Romania for the ideologically-infused sex norms they contain. These manuals constructed a sexual ideal that located pleasure in the marital couple rather than in the individual, defining ‘normal sexuality’ as heterosexual and privileging its collective significance as an act for reproduction over the experience of pleasure by an individual. This collective model of pleasure was key to the construction of the communist subject as a member of a collective rather than as an autonomous individual. While this collective subject had roots in Romanian pre-communist traditions, communist sex experts rejected conventional gender roles according to which women are subordinate to men. Subsequent comparisons with contemporaneous American sex manuals reveal that the Romanian communist discourse on pleasure differed significantly from that of popular American sex advice of the same period.
Counter-Ethics of Gender and Sexuality in an Indian Dream Analysis
On the cusp of India’s Independence, a young woman in Punjab met with a psychiatrist for a conceptual experiment – the development of a ‘more objective’ and ‘Oriental’ theory of dream analysis. Known to us only as Mrs A., not only did she offer a ‘daydream’ to analyst Dev Satya Nand, she presented an intimate account of mid-twentieth-century upper-class Indian marriage, sexuality and womanhood. In her portrayal of the stakes of kinship, she posed an alternate vision – an ethic of singularity and uncertainty formed out of, but departing from, concepts of security and emplacement. This article explores Mrs A.’s account, using the work of twenty-first-century artist Shahzia Sikander to theorize her vision of possibility, and developing the concept of a counter-ethic – a formulation that presses against the parameters of an overarching ethic, occupying its conceptual and social infrastructure, but nurturing a new vision at the points it cannot be sustained.
Regulating Migrant Women's Sexualities in the Persian Gulf
This article looks at the confluence of love, labour and the law by focusing on the regulation of migrant women's sexualities in the Gulf Coast Cooperation countries of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Migrant women increasingly comprise the majority of migrants to the region as the demand for intimate labour in the Persian Gulf is on the rise. But migrant women who become pregnant while in the Persian Gulf are immediately imprisoned and charged with the crime of zina. These women give birth while incarcerated and spend up to a year with their babies in prison. They are then forcibly separated from their children when they are deported, rendering the children stateless in the host country. Migrant women who are often brought to the Persian Gulf to perform (re)productive labour are seen as immoral if they engage in sexual activities during their time in the Persian Gulf (and this is written into their contracts), and thus are seen as unfit to parent their own children. Some migrant women have recently been protesting these laws by refusing and fighting deportation without their children. This article contrasts discourses about migrant women's sexuality and legal analysis with the lived experiences of selected migrant women and their children through ethnographic research conducted in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait City between 2008 and 2014.
When HIV Meets Government Morality
Kristin Soraya Batmanghelichi
In Iran, as in many countries worldwide, misinformation and ignorance of HIV/AIDS have encouraged a culture of secrecy and anonymity for those living with HIV. For many HIV-positive women, religious, political and economic pressures complicate their social status and access to health care. Moreover, they must contend with societal discrimination and stigmas associated with the condition. Adding nuance to contemporary studies on gender and sexuality in Iran, this report highlights the colourful narratives of a select group of HIV-positive mothers attending weekly wellness workshops in Tehran. Discussing issues of intimacy, modesty, motherhood and stigmatisation, this article explores one of Iran's expanding communities at risk of infection and the ways in which women with HIV negotiate the stigma of their condition in an Islamic Republic.
Reflections on the Study of Sexuality in the Middle East and North Africa
Allon J. Uhlmann
After outlining the aims of this thematic section, I introduce the articles that follow. Although they reflect different geographical interests and theoretical orientations, the articles raise some interesting issues, of which I take up two. One is the role of Islam. It appears that both Islam's historical role and its contemporary effect are critical, yet indeterminate and contestable. The other issue is comparative. There is much in common between the way sexuality is configured in Europe, on the one hand, and in the Middle East and North Africa, on the other. But there are also significant differences. I discuss some of these differences in the way sex and sexuality are culturally mobilized to construct genderedness.
Controlling Women’s Sexuality in the Ukrainian Nationalist Underground
This article examines how the constructions of gender, female sexuality, nation, and war by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army influenced their attitudes to intimate fraternization between women (both members of the nationalist underground and civilians) and enemy men between 1939 and the mid-1950s. Conclusions are based on the analysis of a wide range of sources. The article highlights various forms and methods of repressive measures against women who transgressed sexual norms. The article argues that the violent practices against women were not standardized, and largely depended on subjective decisions of the local leaders and commanders, as well as on the level of women’s engagement in the underground activities. Violence against women represented a tool of preservation of patriarchal power and traditional gender roles but became one of the means of constructing power relations among the nationalist men, as well as their relations with enemy men.
This article aims to provide a broad overview of the enormous transformations of gender and sexual relations and sensibilities that occurred in Iran from the early nineteenth century through the first decades of the twentieth century. In particular, it seeks to investigate how these changes—while not directly linked with a project of production of modern governmentable bodies in the sense that Foucault had proposed for a similar period of European history—were deeply connected with what it meant to 'achieve modernity' for the Iranian cultural elite of this period. The article ends by bringing this historical background to bear on some very recent developments that have come to public attention through the discussions of sex-change surgeries in Iran.