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Diasporic virginities: social representations of virginity and identity formation amongst British arab muslim women

Diasporic virginities: social representations of virginity and identity formation amongst British arab muslim women

Amer, Amena ORCID: 0000-0002-4634-1789, Howarth, Caroline and Sen, Ragini (2015) Diasporic virginities: social representations of virginity and identity formation amongst British arab muslim women. Culture and Psychology, 21 (1). pp. 3-19. ISSN 1354-067X (Print), 1461-7056 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/1354067X14551297)

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Abstract

This study compares how practising and non-practising British Arab Muslim women position themselves in relation to representations of virginity. Overall, in our qualitative study, we found that representations of culture and religion influenced social practices and social beliefs in different ways: non-practising Muslim women felt bound by culture to remain virgins, while practising Muslim women saw it as a religious obligation but were still governed by culture regarding the consequences of engaging in premarital sex. Interestingly, some practising Muslim participants used Mut’a (a form of temporary ‘marriage’) to justify premarital sex. This, however, did not diminish the importance of virginity in their understanding and identification as Arab women. In fact, this study found that virginity, for the British Arabs interviewed, embodied a sense of ‘Arabness’ in British society. Positioning themselves as virgins went beyond simply honour; it was a significant cultural symbol that secured their sense of cultural identity. In fact this cultural identity was often so powerful that it overrode their Islamic identities, prescribing their behaviour even if religion was seen as more ‘forgiving’.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: virginity, British arab, muslim, gender, culture, religion, social representations, identity
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Department of Psychology, Social Work & Counselling
Last Modified: 18 May 2020 13:25
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/28032

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