‘The personal is political and the political is personal’: Sexuality, politics and social movements in modern Iran

Pardis Mahdavi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


More than thirty years after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the protests filling the streets of Tehran in 2011 (and indeed the streets of neighboring Cairo, Marrakesh and Manama) are reminiscent of mass demonstrations that led to the Iranian revolution thirty years ago. Young people, disenchanted and frustrated with a regime that does not embody their sense of ‘Iranianness, ' take to the streets, coalescing first behind a leader and movement referred to as the Sabze, or Green Movement1 in 2009, and then, in 2011, coming together as an opposition movement seeking to unseat the regime in power. The protests that swept across the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 all had a similar goal, to voice the people’s opposition to what are viewed as repressive governments in the region. People came together, pouring into the streets in civil-rights-type movements, and demanding accountability from their governments. In Iran these movements had been making headlines since the summer of 2009. However, the process that was set into motion after the fraudulent election of President Ahmadinejad on June 12, 2009 was not an isolated event, but rather was part of a series of social movements that had been building amongst various groups of Iranians within the country, most prominently spurred by multiple women’s movements (religious and secular), youth movements, the sexual revolution, and Reform movements. The sexual revolution that had been taking place in Iran since the late 1990s was the beginning for some of a social movement that led to a civil disobedience political movement which could be observed in 2009 as the Green Movement, and today is referenced as an opposition movement.2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUnderstanding Global Sexualities
Subtitle of host publicationNew Frontiers
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781136278136
ISBN (Print)9780415673471
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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