From Your Favorite Iranian Lesbian

Joonies, it’s confession time.

I’m a lesbian. And an Iranian-American.

How many of those have you met, hmm? Your torshideh khaleh (trans: unmarried aunt) doesn’t count! I’m the real deal:

julie ershadiSince day one of preschool, I was on the playground, flashing my 101 Dalmatians underpants at the other girls. Then on the weekends my father, a half-Tork mazhabi (trans: religious) Rashti would drag me kicking and screaming in a roosari (headscarf) to Islamic school on the weekends, which I totally could not get down with. Like, not even a little.

Unless we spent the whole day talking about Adam and Eve — but mostly Eve — running around naked in the Garden of Eden before the whole seeb (apple) thing happened. Yowza!

When I got a little older, Baba jan gave up on the religious training and started bringing me to Persian language classes. This was ideal: sweet, kind-hearted Persian girls in their early twenties teaching us babies how to read, write, and speak. Leila, Fatemeh, Sholeh, Narges…. I was in love! I learned kheeiiiilliii (a lot of) Farsi in those years, joonies. Kheili. Besyaar.

I sensed that the feelings I had for my teachers, and other women, were abnormal and so it became my own little secret.

In fact, I still haven’t told Baba jan that I’m gay.

(Good thing his English reading comprehension ain’t much!) Ever since I hit 20 years old, when we talk on the phone he offers to introduce me to Ali the banker, Mohammed the physician, and any one of the million other young Iranian guys who are the gainfully employed. Mamnoon but no mamnoon.

Still, even with a super mazhabi baba and a recovering Catholic mother (from Detroit), my cultural environs have allowed me to be a very different, much more liberal — and liberated — person than if I had been born and raised in my father’s home country.

As a teenager, over time I came out to all my friends — including my Irooni ones. One day, it all got me thinking: isn’t it amazing that we Iranian-American young people keep our parents’ culture alive while simultaneously blending it with what we learn here in the States?

This hybrid culture is a seriously significant phenomenon, as you probably know if you’re on this site in the first place.

rose petals

It’s also a story worth telling:

the story of Iranian-Americans, of who we are, and of where we are taking our heritage. This history is at risk of disappearing in the wind if nobody takes the time to record it.

Luckily, I’ve got a project in the works aimed at doing just that: it’s a multimedia journalism piece called “Rose Petal Pathways: Journeys Through Iranian America.” I’m crowdfunding the expenses for a cross-country train ride to conduct research for it; check out the fundraising page here. If you agree that these stories need to be told, get your contribution in before February 15.

TWEET AT JULIE: @JERSHADI

SEXANDFESSENJOON@GMAIL.COM

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Khasteh Nabashinaaa,

JULIE JOON جولی

To FOB or not to FOB?

Hi Joonies,

Let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of dating FOBs.

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First, a basic definition to start off with so we’re all clear as to who this concerns:

F.O.B – (n) an acronym for “Fresh Off the Boat”, and refers to new immigrants to a country (mostly Western). Now commonly used to describe any person new to a country, who is not well versed with its language or culture (mainly Western). Can be taken as an insult, or a term of endearment (eg; pride of culture).”

PRO: They speak the mother tongue so well, and it gets you kind of hot when you guys are alone. And you know that amazing ‘Farsi/Persian‘ skills means a slam dunk with the parents.

CON: But then you realize that they have a Persian accent when they speak English, and that just makes you feel all self-conscious when you bring him around your friends. (and let’s be honest, you can never convince yourself that the accent is sexy.)

PRO: They seem to still have some old school culture and chivalry, and that makes you feel warm and lady-like– I mean, a man with manners who picks up the tab is always sexy.

CON: But some of that chivalry just turns out to be chauvinism and ….

PRO: In their lives, FOB guys have had it pretty rough and left everything they’ve known to come to a new country with a new culture. They’ve proved they can stand on their own two feet.– DAMN. #Respect

CON: BUT, they may be on the prowl for a woman just so she can replace his mom. He could be missing the warm meals and clean laundry. (watch out!)

PRO: Finally, there’s so much they can teach you about a part of your culture that you never got to experience because you’ve never spent more than a vacation’s time in Iran.

That, arguably, could be priceless.

CON: Or it could be exhausting because you’d have so much to catch them up on.

Hello, Pop Culture waits for no one!

So I guess the jury is out. With a FOB, you gain some -you lose some. It all comes down to a matter of personal taste (and patience), right?

thoughts on our new look? sexandfessenjoon@gmail.com

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tweet me: @saaghi_joon

FOB/noFOB,

SAAGHI ساقی

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...]

Concept of School Seems So Securrre

Hey joonies,

We’re starting off the end of the week right with a very special guest post by NASEEM joon – enjoy! 

Oh Joon Joons,

Salaams and booses from the frozen tundra of Minneapolis, MN! This is another joon from the Joon Club (is that name sticking yet, or is it just me?), Naseem Joon, affectionately sending all my love from the heartland. I’m fortunate enough to write this blog post as both a guest and fan of S&F (and Saaghi&Farrah, too!).

Let’s get intimate before proceeding: I’m half Iranian, my favorite dish is gormeh sahbzi (I have a bottomless stomach when it comes to gormeh sahbzi), and I usually take my chai straight to the head.

And I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t had fessenjoon in a while. Yikes!

I’ve been an avid reader and fan of this blog and its lovely curators for quite some time.

I find something so magical about how stories written by two women I don’t know in the flesh have touched me so deeply, made me laugh, and resonated as identical reflections of my own life and experiences as a woman of Iranian heritage in the USA. I am so moved that I have taken the liberty of telling you yet another tale of the joonies and giving a slice of my own story.

As we joons know…

Education in our culture is just as important as football and freedom to those in the USA.

clueless

Now, don’t get me wrong, because that isn’t to say education isn’t emphasized to young people in the USA, or that we Iroonis can’t get down with buff men in tight spandex or feel inspired by that screeching sound of a bald eagle against the melodic riff of an electric guitar.

In high school, I was the only one in my group of friends where not going to college wasn’t even something to entertain. Some of my friends never gave education another thought; some had babies way young; some went to school to become actors, doctors, and opera singers; and some just disappeared off the face of the earth.

Even if I had pressed my baba for some time off to think about what I wanted to do or study in school, my parents (and ameh and amoo and maman bozorg) were terrified that if I took this course of action, I’d surely never climb back on the horse and become an underachiever who never made it to college and spent her life never tapping into and harnessing her potential.

To them, college was the next and immediate step after graduating high school, and that’s where I could figure myself out and choose an appropriate academic course.

No other option.

As is my nature to play devil’s advocate for the sake of a holistic argument, I disagree with this viewpoint. I know many people who never went to college and are successful, but moreover, are happy and grateful for their stations in life and the experiences and struggles endured to make it there, despite no post-secondary education.

breakfast club

And though I disagree and think college is just oneway to success (and not even guaranteed, at that), I always knew I would go to college, whether it was of my own desire or having grown up in an environment where it’s expected of you.

I don’t feel as if I were forced into school—I always wanted to go. I’m just showcasing another end of the spectrum.

In Iranian culture, it isn’t a reality to not go to school. At bare minimum you get an undergraduate degree. [Read more...]

Make Me Submissive, Baby

Happy Monday = R.I.P weekend

It was Superbowl weekend, and even though Niners lost– it was probably the best football game I’ve ever watched.

Jim Harbaugh proved that I have more in common with an NFL coach than I thought possible.

image

So this post is partially an ode to Jim Harbaugh, who perfectly embodies the frustrated and helpless younger sibling in all of us.

In an earlier post, Farrah Joon talked about her take on dominating in the bedroom…and how it’s a lot better, when the guy takes control.  And to borrow a quote from the lovely lady that I think described her point definition of “DOMINATING”:

“HE TOOK CONTROL AND HE GAVE IT TO ME THE WAY HE KNEW I WOULD LIKE IT.” - Fifty Shades of Joon

And really, its true…while it may vary from girl to girl, almost all women like it when the man exercises some control. And without passing judgment, I have to ask:

Why? Why do we like it when a man plays the Dominant to our Submissive?

The ‘S’ word may be a dirty one, but deep down, every bad b*tch wants an equally (or more) powerful male to pin her down and give it to her good. [Read more...]

Nothing Tastes As Good As Skinny Feels.

Hola,

2012 is winding down, and I almost can’t believe it. How does time fly? New Years is always an appropriate time for reflection (cliche but inevitable) and I’ve been thinking more about myself, 10 years ago… It might be because my Pandora is set to 90s music? But when you’re 18, you can’t really reflect on what it was like when you were 8.  Now I’m at that age, where I remember what it was like 10, 8, 5 years ago. I remember why I thought the way I did, and why I did the things I did. And with all those memories– I can’t help but feel weird. Is that what happens when you get old– your younger self starts to become a bigger shadow?

Jeez, can I please not get old? #fountainofyouth

Anyway, the more I think about Saaghi circa early 2000s, I realize I haven’t confessed something that really haunted/dogged me for most of those years: My Body.

It’s no secret that Persians are very vocal about weight — “topol” (chubby) is a word that’s just tossed around, almost endearingly, but for a 13 year old girl– that word is damaging.

At least that’s how I felt about it. As a kid, I was never aware of what my body looked like to others. But when I hit puberty, and I had chipmunk cheeks, I was growing boobs, and I was all sorts of awkward–well, I became very aware of what my body looked like from the outside.

People’s comments only reinforced my insecurities and by the time I got to high school, I had also eaten my insecurities. [Read more...]

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.  [Read more...]

Not thug life, but the Double Life.

Happy Tuezday.

Here’s something that made my week: the fact that my friends want me to dress up as Bert for Halloween. My question is,

Which Persian girl puts on a unibrow, voluntarily?

image

I thought bad eyebrows were like bad noses, you get rid of them and deny deny deny you ever had one? Or is the UNI in now? Someone fill me in.

Anyway, my grandparents were in town for awhile, all the way from eeRAN, and aside from lots of lavashak and pistachios, they bring a suitcase full of “Naseehat” (guidance from elders).

The problem with that is, I hate NASEEHAT. I’m comfortable enough with my parents to stop them before they get ahead with all their ‘guidance’ lectures–’Dad, the decibel level of your voice annoys me‘. But with my grandparents, I can’t be so direct. I have to swallow my pride, and smile, and nod–as if I’m actually going to take what they say into consideration.

Do you see how immature and stubborn I am?

But, in my defense, as I’ve… aged… I’ve gotten better at identifiying the ‘GOOD Naseehat‘ from the ‘OBNOXIOUS Naseehat’. Especially now that I’m out on my own, with my own bills and finances and Adult-ness,

I know I can’t learn everything the hard way– cause if I do, it’ll end with bad credit, a mug shot, and an ‘I TOLD YOU SO’. [Read more...]

& The Oscar Goes To…

Hello Joonies,

Happy Labor Day Weekend: a holiday that’s lost its historical significance, but we shop and party hard for it anyway.

As for myself, I didn’t really shop (that’s a lie, I’m an addict) or party– but I did think about sex a lot. Because I haven’t been having any…and while that’s a tragic topic on its own, I was thinking more about

Faking Orgasms.

I know it seems I’m getting a little ahead of myself since I have no one to fake it with, but that’s exactly why I wanted to write about this. Sex and Orgasms have become two very different dry spells:

 I’ve been having real O’s courtesy of my little friend — and I can have it whenever, wherever (no, not at work). With sex, its not as convenient, and definitely not as much of a guarantee.  Here comes the earth-shattering fact of the day: Not every woman orgasms from sex..every time.

While for every girl that may seem like old news, there are a lot of guys who think “but she’s never been with me”. Especially Persian doodool-talas. I mean, it is made of gold…

Every persian guy thinks he’s going to be the golden doodool to rock your world.

[Read more...]

Something I Never Want to be a Part Of

Joons,

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a guest post and we all know you get a little tired of us from time to time– plus, there’s only so much sex we can have… at once… (joke).  Please meet Holly Dagres- Iranian American- Aslan Media Columnist- Researcher for Cairo Review- World Traveler- Bad Ass of All Things Middle East – this list could really go on for an entire post so check out her website (click here).  

Joonies, I like to pride myself on being an Iranian-American with having the unique opportunity to grow up in Iran during my teenage years. It’s definitely given me a nuanced perspective of things people don’t often look profoundly into. Coming from divorced parents, the idea of marriage has always been approached with caution. It’s no wonder that when the topic of “khastegaris” (marriage proposals) comes up, I tend to cringe at how simple people choose their significant others.

Ever since I could remember, I’ve had mothers running up to me on street corners, asking if I had not wed yet. This is just based off of my not so Iranian features, which consists of fair skin (you’ll learn why that’s important in a moment).

Then there was the one neighbor who offered my mother a ‘business deal’– my hand in marriage for her son.

[Read more...]

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