I’m an Iranian-American woman, born and raised in the US, a first generation immigrant. I am Muslim by birth, but not by practice. My family and I have gone to Iran almost every year of my life.
My Iranian heritage has played a monumental role in my upbringing. I was taught to abide by a set of standards. In our culture, image is everything — we flaunt what we deem well-accomplished and shun anything different.
I was taught that I had to take one of three career paths: doctor, lawyer, or engineer. I chose none of these.
I was taught that sex is for marriage. I disagree.
With these “standards,” there is one stipulation: if you do not follow these rules, we will never talk about it.
All of that “don’t do this,” or “never talk about that,” only resulted in my constant defiance, my need to be different than what was granted to me through birthright. Screw my medical degree, I choose sex.
In high school, I wasn’t really concerned about a career — to me the no-questions-asked attitude towards sex only encouraged my curiosity. I was embarrassed to talk to my Iranian friends because I thought they would judge me. My non-Iranians didn’t get why virginity was a big deal.
I developed the mindset of “I’m going to do whatever I want.” Imagine my surprise (age 15) when I learned that I had a second hole (down there) because I went to second base with my boyfriend.
No sex education, no discussions regarding sex, and banned from using tampons (because clearly, tampons have penis-like functions) caused me to learn by trial and error.
I didn’t learn because I was taught, I learned because I tried.
No matter how conservative or open-minded someone is, dialogue is the only way to promote acceptance.
In my culture, my struggle with sex isn’t unique. My lack of knowledge is shared among many Iranian-American women.
Therefore, my friend, Saaghi and I created sexandfessenjoon.com — a place where people can come and share their stories (religion, tradition, sex, guilt) without fear of judgement from our parents. Who cares what our parents think? If we expect our community to evolve, then we have to start talking about things that make us uncomfortable, like sex. Tradition isn’t law and our parent’s upbringing can’t mirror ours.
That is my story.