Exploring Iranian women's identity: an ethnographic study

Year: 2013

Author: Izadinia, Mahsa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This is an ethnography wherein I reflect on gender discrimination existing in Iran, how it encourages passivity, silence and oppression among Iranian women and how it negatively impacts self and social identities of Iranian women. To unmask power structures in Iran and empower and emancipate women, the present study foregrounds the significance of holding on to their dreams, values, choices, and identity to be their true selves, especially when they are living in a country where they are constantly silenced and marginalized as women. As an ethnographer, I intimately immersed myself in the life of three Iranian women, talked with them, observed them, wrote about them and reflected on their stories with a keen concern to understand their perspectives, challenges, problems and how they act out their lives in the world and see the world. Elaborating on the concept of identity and its significance for human development (Buzzelli & Johnston, 2002), I discuss the life stories of these women and their major challenges in the processes of getting married, living a married life and job searching. I explain how they gradually distanced from who they were and wanted to be by succumbing to their problems easily and readily and abandoning their dreams. I conclude this paper by discussing some implications for education system in Iran and other countries to help women establish a clear and strong sense of identity from the early stages of their identity development. Keywords: Identity, Iranian women, gender discrimination.