I Believe Therefore I Am

JOONS,

Read my last post? Things were getting a little cray in the comments section (click here).

I dont intend to dedicate an entire post to my response but I think it’s time that maybe I just set some records straight — tell you all my opinion/beliefs.

Negative comments are hard – at the end of the day, Saaghi and I are only human. And while we encourage people to share their opinions, sometimes it hurts.  But we knew what we got ourselves into and we are so lucky to even have this blog and the people who read it — whether they like it or not.

You don’t have to agree with what we write — as long as you read it.

I didn’t ask to be a woman.  I didn’t ask to be Iranian.

I was born this way. I am an Iranian American woman and I refuse to claim otherwise.

I can’t imagine being someone different.

iri

I was born into a set of expectations – cooker, mother, submissive.  

I was born into the usual gender stereotypes where women are inferior to men.  My parents talked about my wedding like it would be the most pivotal moment in my life.  My accomplishments were supposed to be based on my ability to cook ghormeh sabzi without using a microwave and my tactics in safeguarding my virginity for the one. 

Sorry but — I don’t believe that those factors define an Iranian woman. 

A woman is a human with a vagina. A man is a human with a penis.

It took a long time (and a lot of fighting) for me to reach that conclusion.

But I believe that we are all individuals and only we can define what that means for OURSELVES. 

So let me tell you what I believe in:

- I believe that we all have the right to do what we want as long as we are safe – whether that’s sex, refusing to use an oven, get a job, or move out of daddy’s home before marriage.

- I believe that sex isn’t defining.

- I believe that we are all worthy whether we are virgins or not – whether we believe in marriage or not – whether we believe in love or not – whether we judge or try not to.

- I believe that if we were born into an Iranian family – then we are all representative of the Iranian (American) generation regardless of whether we’ve been to Iran or not.

- I believe that discrimination is unfair no matter what the U.S./Iranian government (or our parents) tell us.

- I believe that it is only up to us to be educated enough to fight against discrimination and hate.

- I believe that we have to band together as a community if we ever want to make a difference.

- I believe that we should support one another – despite our differences – and instead of hating, we should embrace it – because we are all individuals with our own self-made belief system. 

- I believe that I judge people.

- I believe you can never escape judgement – but that it’s up to you what you do with that judgement.

- I believe that I have made many mistakes – and I believe that while I have learned from some of them, I am still learning (and making more mistakes).

- I believe that food is amazing and I will eat it no matter how it’s prepared.

- I believe that sex feels great and you have the right to do it the way you choose to.

I do NOT believe that this makes me less of an Iranian — and “being less” Iranian than someone living in Iran or my mother doesn’t exist. We all face both hardships and advantages as a result of our heritage.

And furthermore, we all appreciate and believe in our culture. Instead of discriminating against someone for being born outside of Iran, we should all be proud that people of Iranian descent care enough to support a culture that has played such a big part in our upbringing.

Saaghi and I don’t write because we want people to stop judging us — if we didn’t want to face judgment, then sexandfessenjoon wouldn’t exist. 

We write because people are afraid of talking about it. 

hafez

There’s a reason some of us lie about our sexual experience or take it up the ass to maintain our hymen — because we are terrified of people judging us — naturally.

But there’s something very wrong with that — it only encourages the idea that we are doing something forbidden.  Like so many of you have correctly pointed out, we live in the 21st century. Shouldn’t we be smart enough to care for our peers rather than separate ourselves from them?

That’s the problem – we’re all so afraid that we only end up alienating ourselves. Does that make any sense?

Calling people names only perpetuates this fear that we are all so different, and that there is a right way and a wrong way. But that “right way” doesn’t exist in a world where people are only trying to be themselves. 

So if I am such a jendeh, then what does that make you?

SEXANDFESSENJOON@GMAIL.COM

FACEBOOK US

TWEET AT ME: @FARRAH_JOON

XO,

FARRAH فرح
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Comments

  1. in response to your quevestion, dat makes me a khanoom. i cook using an oven and i celeen my house and i am a vergen. i have soooo many khastegars you vill not believe vat an amazing voman i am. vay oh my goood. ghorboone khodam beram.

    lol nice post Farrah. Embrace the difference.

  2. prrrsiankitten says:

    You, Farrah Joon e aziz, are a brave girl, as is Saaghi Joon. Both of you are visionaries. And you’re doing a great service to our community. Creating an open forum for people to talk about sex OPENLY, to learn and discuss; instead of many having to revert to mumbling about it in hushed whispers, not actually learning much and, if anything, perpetuating urban myths and breeding ignorance that will only spread fear and false knowledge.

    Just two years ago, I had a female relative in Iran insist to me that the anus had something similar to the hymen. She was adamant. The girl is educated. She has a career. We are the same age. I was in fits of laughter, telling her, no, really it doesn’t. She was convinced I was wrong. Her friends had told her differently, and she was sure they were telling her the truth. This is the kind of ignorance that’s being spread in Iran these days. Not in rural areas amongst simple villagers. No. This is modern-Tehran, the educated City-Girl with a career. Why? For lack of honest and open talk about sex, for lack of sex-education. And to talk about it openly or to try and educate is considered shameful by so many, even those who, by the standards of Iran, are “liberal” or “open-minded”. The truth is, Iran’s got a long way to go to “liberal”, and go it must, even if it has to go kicking and screaming.

    I thank you, on behalf of our community, and in advance, for kicking off the journey to honest and open conversations. Here’s to far more enlightened tomorrow.

  3. Zoya Sardashti says:

    I Believe Therefore I Am is a brilliant title in response to all the haters who feel superior to Iranian-Americans, especially Iranian-American females. Check your ego at the door and deal with your insecurities. Just because we didn’t grow up in Iran doesn’t make us any less Iranian. It hasn’t been easy growing up in America. The media has dominated most every aspect of our lives. How we see ourselves, how we relate to others, even our family, has been manipulated by the actions from both the Iranian and American media/government. That poison has falsified the way we conduct ourselves in the public and private sphere. Yes, Iranians experience this too in Iran, but the Iranian-Americans with whom I surround myself believe we are equals because we share a history filled with sorrow, passion and hope. Our root is strong – our loyalty connects us to our family, community, and the stories, fictional or not, preserve our identity despite decades of war/invasion/strife.

    I’ve faced an unfair amount of discrimination for being Iranian-American from my family and even strangers because my mother is American. The word half disgusts me. I don’t own half a surname. I don’t see the world in two parts. My body, my psychological framework and my soul is not split down the middle. The lens in which I view the world is not analyzed through separate ideologies. The title Iranian-American does not mean I’m divided; it means I experience the best and worst of both worlds. It means I’m in a prime position to bridge the gap/mend the wound/create a new space within a seemingly narrow world view of who sees what Iran was/is/will be. I carry baggage-a feeling of being perpetually displaced, but I will not try to make up for history that I didn’t experience first hand. I experience trauma, a new history, as an Iranian-American in any context wherever I live or travel.

    I’ve stopped lying about my background. I own every part of her and I love her. As an Iranian-American female I will not be reduced to someone who knows how to make a fantastic dish of Fessenjoon (although I do) or out dance everyone, male or female, at a wedding party. My sexuality is defined in the way I express myself outside of the bedroom. It’s the sensuality of Persian poetry, the respect of loving and suffering, and standing up for justice that defines my Iranian-American heritage. My paradigm is good thoughts, good words, good deeds. I try to live my life as a visual representation of a person who is in process/progress.

  4. Preach girl!

  5. I was curious. Were you really taught to be submissive growing up? Your parents started talking about your wedding and teaching you to maintain your virginity as a kid? I just have a hard time wrapping my head around these kinds of things. I was raised in a religious (but not super traditional) household and I never experienced any of these things. These were topics of discussion but never crucial values that were taught to me. I was raised thinking that the woman runs the household and that women are independent of men and I assumed that only Irani’s of “dahati” backgrounds would think otherwise.
    Sometimes I feel that Iranians who say such things are just trying to be dramatic and invoke sympathy from others (not that you do that) but I guess this is a serious thing for some Iranians. It’s really sad.

    • Hey Sara,

      That’s a great point. I don’t think my parents taught me to be “submissive” through their words. My mom always encouraged me to be independent… yet whenever something difficult came up – she needed my dad to do it – whether it was physical labor or emotional stress or whatever. So you can say one thing, but act completely differently — and at the end of the day, your actions speak louder than your words.

      I think the most important way for kids to learn something is through example – and I wasn’t given the example of a “strong, independent woman.” I was given the example of someone who was very afraid of anything unfamiliar and needed my dad even though she refused to admit it.

      Even with my parent’s divorce, I was the one who had to encourage my mom toward her independence at age 16. And even today, my mom is unable to take care of herself. So I just think that “words” don’t mean anything if you can’t back it up with your actions. :)

      xoxo,
      Farrah

      • I had the same reaction as Sara to your statement “I was born into a set of expectations – cooker, mother, submissive.” Thanks for the clarification and sharing your story, Farah. But If I can be so bold, I’d like to comment that this may be more reflective of your mom’s personality and not a generalization of Iranian women. A lack of a strong female role model in your life shouldn’t lead you to paint a stereotypical image. My mom, for instance, has been a very strong, independent woman. And growing up in Iran, I met many of my mom’s friends who were single mothers or working while tending to their “household chores”- there are many strong, independent Iranian women.
        In fact, my mom tells me stories of when my grandpa would take her to meetings in which she was the only female; that was back in the day, like waaaay back when my mom was a teenager, in a small town in an even more patriarchal society.

        I don’t wanna be nitpicking, just thought I’d share my thoughts. I really enjoyed this post and I share many of the sentiments and beliefs you shared here. You go, girl!!

  6. I love your blog Farah and Saghi. I follow the blog and you guys on twitter also. I enjoy the entertainment, openeness, and relatibility of all your posts. And I think your voices in the Iranian diaspora is an important one of the culture balance us living outside Iran, and even in Iran experience.
    However sometimes I feel you see Iran too shallow like the picture posts you have comparing the royalty, with the extravagent background and luxury, to our current system, chadoris sitting on rugs segregated. I feel by doing this you are blaming the situation of our poor country on Islam, and demonizing Islam in a way. Or saying that the shahi period was the best for Iran (which is wasn’t) just because women were uncovered. I’m an agnostic and reject all religions, but I do respect and see the beauty in all of them.
    Or also once you had a picture post saying how girls in Iran are bigger sluts than persian girls here, almost admiringly. Here I almost felt you were trying to prove that Iranians are “western’ too through sexual activity, which I believe was a very biased way of showing the culture of Iran.
    I appreciate all you guys do and will continue to read your great blog, but I just hope you could take in perspective the complex issues Iran has been facing and being unbiased in your portrayal of them.

  7. Iranian-American says:

    I have been a silent follower of this blog for a few months now. The comment left on your last post was upsetting to me, and I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to read when the hurtful words were directed at you. I wanted to thank you for responding to the comment and for your deeply personal and reflective posts. Like perhaps many of your readers, I am an Iranian-American female in my mid-20s. This blog has filled a gap in my life and has given me an outlet through which I can explore my sexuality as an Iranian-American. I am a virgin, and I was sexually abused as a child (the two are not mutually exclusive). For years, I felt “damaged”–because I subconsciously accepted the notion that a female’s worth is tied to her chastity. The general lack of discussion about sex in my family made me feel worse about my abuse (they still do not know about it). I did not see sex as an enjoyable, pleasurable act between two people–to me, it was horrible and frightening. So I avoided it and was resolute on keeping my abuse secret. The first person whom I told was my first boyfriend; he was incredibly supportive and helped me with my coping process. He never pressured me to have sex, and we never did; though we broke up years ago, he is still a valued friend. Since then, I have told a few more people, and I have been learning to cope with my past experience quite positively. Two years ago, I tried to have sex for the first time–I started crying. My boyfriend at the time did not know about my abuse and was understandably shocked by my reaction, but he did not pressure me to go any further. Again, we did not, and I am still a virgin. I worry that I will have the same reaction the next time I try to have sex–that is the worst, most unforgivable part of my past abuse. I am terrified of what is for most people a very enjoyable experience, and it is hard for me to articulate just how helpful this blog is in helping me overcome those feelings. Reading about how others who have grown up within a similar cultural context think about and define sex is helping me–slowly–become more comfortably with my own sexuality. Thank you, and please keep writing.

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