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Family feuds: digital battles over the place of women in contemporary Iran
Late marriages, rising divorce rates, and women outnumbering their male counterparts on university campuses are among the most striking indicators of major shifts in the position of women and the family in contemporary Iran. In the post-revolutionary state, where officially sanctioned discourses largely have addressed women's roles and rights in terms relating to family, marriage and motherhood, these changes constitute a crisis. To address this crisis and to reframe discourses on women, the Iranian state has provided substantial support for the production of material that emphasizes the essential links between women and family. Recognizing the influence of New Media in general and the online successes of dissenting voices in particular, state actors and supporters have supplemented the explosion in offline material about women and the family with digital sites for promoting similar content. With a focus on New Media, this article interrogates such attempts to define and circumscribe discourses on women within frameworks pertaining to the family. Drawing from online venues dedicated to women's issues (such as Mehrkhaneh, a news and analysis site on women and the family, and Charghad, which describes itself as a site for the "Muslim Iranian Girl"), the article also highlights the internal inconsistencies of conservative discourses on women and examines the reasons why these sites have been unable to garner popular participation. In addition, the article argues that the push to redirect the conversations about women must be understood not only in relation to the changing status of women and marriage but also must be placed in a broader context where the state's views and policies on women constantly are being challenged by foreign media, reformist and independent activists, and even dissenters within the factionalized power establishment.
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Data source: Taylor and Francis
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Middle East Critique. Vol. 23, no. 3, (2014), pp. 349-362
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 Record created 2017-04-07, last modified 2017-04-21

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