I Predict

Shout out to our guest blogger today, Josh Shahryar – he’s a total joon. 

Hey Joonz,

Yeah, I’m on S&F!

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Moving on.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written an analysis on the political situation in Iran. I know, there was a time when I would write 6,000+ words just to smack a troll around. (click here for the article)

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But then I got tired of the mess that amounted to nothing.

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I’ll be honest, in the past two years or so, I haven’t published any political analyses on the political situation. I’ve decided to expend my energies on covering human rights violations and trust me…

… writing about human rights for me is no joke… [Read more...]

Should you vote, when you don’t live there?

Hello Joonies! 

We’re a few days from the elections in Iran and there’s been a lot of news activity around it.  However, if you’re an Iranian living abroad, the topic of the election might seem a little trickier.

A question posed to us by Nima Shirazi, the political analyst behind Wide Asleep in America, captures this exact catch-22. 

Do you think that, beyond having the legal right, Iranians and Iranian citizens living outside Iran have the moral right to vote in Friday’s presidential election despite not living in Iran?

If it is the obligation of Iranians living in Iran, and them alone, to chose the government under which they will live, whether they seek to challenge and change the system or to reinforce it, what role do Iranians abroad – some of whom have vastly different political and religious beliefs than Iranians in Iran – have in the vote?

Can “ex-patriot” voting be seen as a kind of foreign intervention for regime change (or reform), albeit a peaceful kind, or – conversely – could the act of voting itself be seen as legitimating a political system one may disagree with?

Are the circumstances different for Iranian citizens who have never visited Iran, never lived in Iran or who, perhaps, don’t ever plan on going/returning?

Here is an excerpt from his article, featuring our answers, which you can check out here:

Iranians are not monolithic. Like any large community of human beings the world over, Iranians and Iranian citizens, living in Iran or abroad, have diverse opinions on everything from religion to politics to family to everything in between. Just like here in the United States, or any other country for that matter, there are those who support the government, and those who oppose it; those who thinking voting is important, those who consider it merely symbolic, and others who find it pointless, or worse. [Read more...]

Hold Me, I’m Vulnerable

Last weekend I was deciding whether I should take a fellowship that pays a meager stipend in the next year. It was one of those “what the hell am I doing with my life” moments that have colored my year after graduating college. I had been bottling a lot of insecurities and questions for a long time, and finally I broke down in my car. I had a good cry, but then collected myself before I went inside my house.

My mom took one look at me, and asked what was wrong, and I finally let go and had a good cry with her.

It felt great; it was a necessary catharsis that I had been denying myself for so long. I’m just not good at accepting and showing my vulnerabilities. As a society we might be very quick to point out our physical flaws, but character flaws and personality issues are a bit harder to be honest about.

I’m very afraid of showing my vulnerability, letting others (even those closest to me) see the moments of self-doubt, sadness, and self-questioning I have.

I’m not the only one either. It seems that particularly as women, and additionally as Middle-Eastern women, we feel the need to always look like we are in control, independent, and capable. We are all of these things, but we are also humans that go through healthy amounts of self-doubt, self-questioning, and self-consciousness.

Part of this may come from pressures from our family, and fighting against their expectations of having the perfect “career, marriage, children, family” path. We have to show them that we know what we are doing, and that we don’t need to follow their set expectations. The other aspect of it is the pressure of further proving to Western society that we are not meek, incapable, and dependent women, but smart and in control of our lives. I’ve seen this amongst my Iranian and Arab friends so often that it is the norm.

To make it worse, any instance of vulnerability has a backlash of opinions on the Internet and in society.

The moment someone shows vulnerability everyone jumps on the judgment train. [Read more...]

Living the Dream

JOONS,

I’ve had this song on repeat to get me through the day (thanks Saaghi joooon for the best music):

Back to regularly scheduled programming…

Despite living across the country from my family, I’m actually pretty lucky. I’m not as disconnected as I thought I would be. I talk to my parents regularly (without a choice really) and as I’ve gotten older – our conversations have transformed.

Now – instead of sole lectures – my dad likes to debate too and apparently, I’ve become someone worthy of his intellect.

dafdMy dad and I have great debates because we think so differently. I listen to his advice now, but for most of my life – I’ve done what I want. And therefore, we have a different belief system.

I’ve always had to go the extra mile to convince my dad to see my point or back my decisions. Our most frequent debates surround my life decisions or my opinions regarding Islam and Iran.

My dad rarely talks about Iran, if ever. His childhood stories come in random spurts, and when they do – it’s like a glimpse into this side of him that my family and I barely recognize.

Don’t even get me started on his reaction when we discuss Islam. He just gets a scowl on his face and says, “This is a ridiculous conversation topic, Islam is ridiculous – I don’t vant to talk about it.” 

I’m the opposite – I obsess about Iran. I stare at pictures all day, I talk about going back all the time – much to my dad’s dismay. And when it comes to Islam – I emphasize my opinion that people have the right to choose their beliefs.

For a long time, I thought my dad’s “disdain” toward Iran was because I had chosen to focus on it so much in both my identity and in my professional goals. I thought his aversion to all things Iran really had a double meaning – and that secretly, he just didn’t support my desire to pursue any field affiliated with Iran because I would never become a doctor, lawyer or engineer.

I thought my dad was being negative and unsupportive – but it didn’t take me long to realize that he thought he was protecting me. [Read more...]

Come At Me Bro

Hey Joons,

I’m a little sexed out – better known as not getting any. And while I would love to go on about my problems, I thought I’d dedicate tonight to a slightly more depressing cause. Plus, when I actually think about it, I realize that  99 percent of my anger comes from listening to people’s idiotic opinions/conclusions/etc.

(here’s looking at you, Congress). 

Let me take it back a step. The world’s perception of Iran has changed dramatically over the last few years. Sure, the Hostage Crisis didn’t help in the late 70′s/early 80′s, but for the most part – Iran’s “scary factor” was overshadowed by the gossip of “weapons of mass destruction” in countries like Iraq – and once that was discovered to be untrue (and Saddam Hussein was done with), we focused on Afghanistan, and specifically, Bin Laden.

After we killed the bad guys and started moving toward the “reconstruction period” in those countries, our attention became fixated on Iran - thanks to Ahmadinejad, it wasn’t hard for people around the world to stop and think, “Oh he’s batshit… and he runs a country?!” 

HMIf we were to just take Ahmadinejad at face value, is the “threat” that Iran poses void? No, because we have the supreme pleasure to be in the presence of the puppet master, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Also known as the scary ass man with a turban who preaches about the evils of America and is constantly shown cultivating his relationship with Hezbollah.

Personally, I think we’re more afraid of the turbans than of their power.

As Ann Coulter says, people should be imprisoned just for wearing a “hee-jab” in America because they’re assimilating Americans into their culture and pretty soon – we’ll all have undergone clitorectomies. (watch at 2 minutes and 35 seconds – she’s cray). Gosh, we really need “better immigrants” huh.

I digress. Back to the scary turban’ed men – the idea of them gaining nuclear power is horrifying and I can understand why – we don’t know these people here in America, we don’t know what their intentions are, we don’t know if they actually hate us – so we do the only thing that has proven to be effective in the past (please note my intense sarcasm):

We isolate. We sanction. We make life as difficult as humanly possible for the elite regime of Iran so that they will be forced into giving up any and all power – including nuclear power.

It’s almost like high school – we isolate the weird kid in class, we ignore him, we tease him, we make life as difficult as we can (for high school). And then one day, he ends up bringing a gun to school. [Read more...]

Newton’s Third Law of Motion

Hola,

After reading Holly’s last post “Do I have it all?  I was really inspired to self-reflect on my own view of marriage, relationships, and career aspirations. Exactly one year ago, I would have read that post–with my very favorite Lady Gaga quote — and I would’ve been raising my hand, sayin’ “Preach girl!. Dreams over D’s anyday.  Now, I’m not so sure I’m a believer.

After watching a lot of The Big Bang Theory, I think I’ve found a scientific way to express myself (Note: I almost failed Physics in high schoo) Remember Newton’s Laws of Motion?  I only remember one.

“For Every Action There is an Equal and Opposite Reaction”

And while this is true with everything that feels the pull of gravity, it is actually completely false in the world of relationships.  Part of that is obvious– if you love your man, chances are he doesn’t hate you back.

But the point is, you can love someone, and they may not love you back equally. They may not love you at all.

See how that violates physics? It is counter-intuitive, and completely out of our control. It is as if you pushed a door in, but the door pushed back with double the force– or with none at all (in both cases, you would be injured). I wish my boyfriend would like me as much as I like him, but chances are the perfect state of equilibrium… does not exist. And that is scary, and it makes both people vulnerable. 

I think women fear the inequality that’s inevitable with emotional reciprocity.

Its a mouthful, and it may not even make sense but let me break it down:

I don’t think women fear waking up to a man that doesn’t love them anymore. They fear waking up to a partner that does not feel the same way. And the knowledge that they can’t do anything about it.

A pink slip at work will never feel like the moment someone says, “I’m not in love with you”, and since that is true, a professional goal can never heal a personal injury.  [Read more...]

I Didn’t See Your Text…

A few months ago I went on two rather awkward dates with a perfectly nice, but rather strange dude. When he texted me to hang out for a third time, I found myself making up an excuse: “My friends are in town for the weekend -sorry!”

When he texted again a week later, I said I was “going home to visit family.

 And then a third time, I had an “emergency” to deal with. Finally by the fourth time, I gave up and didn’t even answer back. You might ask…

Why as an adult who is more than capable of using my words, I decided to completely avoid the situation and instead opted to create excuses? Because I like avoiding awkward encounters.

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I don’t think anyone particularly enjoys awkward encounters, but some are definitely better at handling them than I am. [Read more...]

Magic Johnson & My Persian Dad

For the sake of this post, I’m going to explain the reason for my long absence ( did you even miss me?!)

At the beginning of this month, I suffered somewhat of a breakdown. Too much pressure, pent up and unreleased, can do that to you. I’m just one of those people that is hardest on herself, and too forgiving of everyone else. #RECIPEFORDISASTER

Soon after, I felt a lot of physical symptoms– Then I had a lump on my neck. Then two. Then six. My lymph nodes were swollen, but I had never experienced that before, so I rushed to the doctor — who told me not to worry, my body was fighting something and, I’d probably get better in a week. Days went by, and I just got worse.

Doctors were talking about ‘Mono’. Then Cancer. Then TB.  then back to Mono. And then…HIV.

Now, given, the Healthcare system in America is jacked, yet you still never want to hear the words ‘HIV’ and ‘AIDS’ and ‘possible’ in the same sentence. It really drove me crazy. Even though I knew it wasn’t the only possibility, the fact that it was on the table as a matter of discussion just made me nuts. I started to rewind the tape on my past, questioning everything and mentally slapping myself for it all.

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When I got home, I overheard my parents talking about me in their room. I walked in and my Dad turned to me and said in Persian,

“Saaghi, tell me straight. Has there always been protection?” [Read more...]

Persian Pride Parade

Sara Afzal recently moved to New York from Boston to pursue a joint masters degree at NYU in Near Eastern Studies and Global Journalism. She received her B.A. in journalism at University of Massachusetts Amherst. As an Iranian-American, she hopes to contribute more alternative stories on Iran that go beyond the mainstream coverage. Follow her on Twitter @saramafzal and Tumblr.

On April 14, thousands of people attended New York City’s annual Persian Parade to celebrate ancient Persian culture and history.

On Madison Avenue, dancers and musical performers from all different ethnic backgrounds, including Armenians, Kurds, Tajiks, Turkmens and more came together to celebrate their unique and rich heritage.

SEXANDFESSENJOON@GMAIL.COM

TWEET AT SARA: @SARAMAFZAL 

TUMBLE SARA

Love,

SARA  سارا

I Have A Little Problem…

I have felt fat and imperfect since I was about 7.

I can trace it back to the moment when my mom started discussing my weight and how I was pudgy with our doorman in Iran. Iranians don’t ever shy away from making extremely blunt comments:

“You look a bit fat, have you thought of losing weight?”

“Maybe you should start taking care of your mustache, you aren’t a kid anymore.”

“That haircut makes you look old for your age.”

We have all heard it at some point.

But this moment never really left me, and from then on my body, what I ate, and how I looked became a dominant thought in my head. When my mom asked my best friend’s mom, who was a nutritionist, how I could lose weight at 13 — When constant comments were made about why is it that I just can’t have a tighter stomach. There was a constant voice in my head about my imperfect weight.

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I started throwing up after binge eating in my last year of high school. I thought of it as damage control. I can throw up the food that I would accidentally binge eat. It wouldn’t happen that often, mainly because I ended up going on a self-imposed strict diet of only fruits and vegetables for 3 months.

When college started I was determined not to gain the freshman 15. Outside of my bulimia, I’m a very healthy eater. People think that you can only binge on unhealthy foods, I’ve binged on all kinds of food and thrown it up, unhealthy food is just easier to throw up. I didn’t think about this as a problem for a long time. Again, it was a form of damage control. I would get stressed, I would drink, or I would be mindless and end up binge eating. Then, when I realized what I had done, I would go and take care of it.

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There is a wonderfully sick feeling of emptying yourself, a sense of relief and victory. I never considered asking myself why it was that I was binge eating, or why was it that I felt the need to binge to a certain point to make myself throw up. As college continued, my stress continued, and my body issues expanded. There was only so much I could control at times. And this form of “damage control” was effective and immediate.

It wasn’t until last year when I recognized my little problem, when I actually gave it a name and called it bulimia. [Read more...]

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