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Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(3), 98; doi:10.3390/socsci6030098

What Does It Mean to Be a Woman? An Exploratory Study of Femininities among Mazandarani, Azeri and Kurdish Female University Students in Iran

1
Centre for Research on Culture and Gender, Ghent University, 9000 Gent, Belgium
2
Independent Sociologist, 15598 Tehran, Iran
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 June 2017 / Revised: 31 July 2017 / Accepted: 18 August 2017 / Published: 25 August 2017
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Abstract

This exploratory study investigated women’s perceptions of femininity among Mazandarani, Azeri and Kurdish female university students in Iran. The study was conducted using interviews with sixteen female university students. Analysis of interviews revealed that three main components predicted general understandings of the concept of femininity: personality traits such as emotionality and dependency, engaging in domestic and caregiving activities in private spaces, and beauty and sexual competition as intrinsic feminine attributes. There was also a general tendency among participants to approach femininity from metaphysical and biological essentialist approaches. Based on the extracted components and interviewees’ articulation of the concept, four types of femininity were recognized: passive, traditional, independent and active. Passive femininity was observed among Azeri and Kurdish students; traditional and independent types existed among students of all three groups and active femininity was observed in the Mazandarani students group. Findings suggest that despite the persisting traditional perceptions and despite differences between student groups, the traditional perceptions of femininity have undergone great transformations in all groups of university students, and the traditional model has been widely re-conceptualized. Based on results, we discuss that it is more accurate to speak of femininities, rather than femininity as a singular and homogeneous concept. View Full-Text
Keywords: essentialism; ethnic group; femininity; gender; intersectionality; Iran essentialism; ethnic group; femininity; gender; intersectionality; Iran
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Rahbari, L.; Mahmudabadi, Z. What Does It Mean to Be a Woman? An Exploratory Study of Femininities among Mazandarani, Azeri and Kurdish Female University Students in Iran. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 98.

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