This article analyzes one of the first book-length Iranian treatises on female criminality, Qadisih Hijāzi’s Barrisi-yi jarā’im-i zan dar Irān (1962), to show how in the eyes of contemporary Iranian cultural critics and social scientists, female criminality was prefigured by gender deviance. The “criminal-woman” was a failed “mother-woman”: female criminality was seen to be a recent phenomenon, the ultimate result of the presumably negative transformative impact of modern life on gender roles, marriage patterns, and family structures. Hijāzi’s premise that modern life is a danger makes her text part of a general critique of the rapid sociocultural transformation of modern urban society, linking it to a presumably biological but essentially social definition of women as mothers.

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