Half of Freedom: Cyber-Civil Society, Gender, and the 2005 Iranian Presidential Election in Weblogistan
In this paper, by focusing on the debates that emerged in Weblogistan during the 2005 Iranian presidential election, I analyze online and offline reactions to women bloggers who voted. The encounters between women activists/bloggers, reformist men, and secular diasporic opposition groups and individuals highlight the violent discussions in Weblogistan and demonstrate how blogger women, in particular activists, were often caught between discourses of liberation that legitimized imperialism, and nationalist discourses that used women as markers of national pride. I show that unlike the mainstream representations of Weblogistan as a unanimous civil society standing unequivocally in opposition to a uniformly imagined fundamentalist Iranian state, Iranian bloggers were neither homogenous nor univocally antagonistic to the state.
Sima Shakhsari is an Assistant Professor of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota.