Do I Have It All?

Holly Dagres – Middle East commentator, world traveler, and joooon. Here’s what she has to say: 

You know the song, “Independent Woman” by Destiny’s Child?  The likes of those kind of lyrics are what I live by.  Even better, the unknowing feminist, Margaret Thatcher had a good line (I’m not a Thatcherite by the way),

I will never be one of those women, who stays silent and pretty on the arm of her husband. Or remote and alone in the kitchen doing the washing up for that matter. One’s life must matter. Beyond all the cleaning, cooking and the children – one’s life must matter more than that… I will not die washing a teacup.

Ironically, Lady Gaga had an even more concise quote,  “Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”


Point being, that’s the kind of motto I live by.

I don’t want to be a pushover; I don’t want to be just somebody’s wife. I don’t want to be left stranded if the man I love decides to get up and leave, cheat, or God forbid dies on me. [Read more…]

Grabbing Balls

I recently read a “scientific” study that attempted to explain why, despite all the resistance to street harassment, “men” simply refuse to consider catcalls a serious problem. According to this report, some forlorn biological characteristic renders sexual attention, both sought and unsought for, appealing to men. For this reason, they argue, men don’t find street harassment and catcalls a problem despite the zillions of women explaining that it is.


Well, if this is science, and scientific explanations are the root of modernity, then I’m sure the majority of us would much rather remain primitive. Indeed, the past few weeks have showed how much women, and normal men, have rejected all excuses for sexual violence.

In case anyone has missed it, April was sexual violence awareness month.

On April 7th-13th, social media was buzzing with news and views about how women of the world may finally be able to walk about their streets in safety. Movements offline in the form of street protests also made an impressive show of their resistance to street harassment.

Perhaps what is more evident now than any other time is the fact, and yes it is a FACT, that sexual violence knows no borders, cultures or religion.

So next time someone tells you that harassment and rape are a “third world”, “Arab”, “South Asian” or “Muslim” phenomenon, you know that is absolute bullshit.


Yet despite the existence of these inspiring movements around the world, the fact remains that until now, no form of protest seems capable of reducing the skyrocketing rates of sexual violence. Hell, we even have projects dedicated to “teaching men not to rape now” as a last desperate resort.

Which is why I will get back to my-cough- scientific study, and propose an experiment.

If men allegedly find unwanted sexual attention appealing, consider the following:

How many times have we as women, heard men exclaim, “I love pussy!” as they attempted one physical move or another while we walk past? What could happen if we in turn, started grabbing every guy’s balls as he walked past and told him that we all now “love balls”? [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.


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…]

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Introducing Leila – half Egyptian, half European – the newest addition to our team! Give her some joooooon love! 

When it comes to claiming that things are universal, it’s always good to be careful. But one thing that seems to be almost everywhere is the infamous double standard when it comes to men, women and sex. Now some places and people are more open to sexual experiences than others, but the thing that seems to be the same no matter where, who and when is this:

it’s good for men to be sexually experienced, and bad for women.

Now that’s obviously a simplification but I seriously can’t think of a single person who hasn’t—at some point or another—believed in this! In fact it’s so pervasive that it’s unconsciously accepted by so many of us.


In Egypt, this particular belief expresses itself in society’s obsession with The Virgin Woman. Virginity is such an important part of a woman that people will literally go out of their ways to find creative ways of having sex without it “showing” when they get married.

From non-penetrative sex to hymen reconstruction surgeries, there seem to be endless methods that ensure a woman will look and feel like a virgin on her wedding night. [Read more…]

You Should Message Me If…

Hey joons,

I’m 26 years old – I’m officially inching towards my upper 20’s, and straddling the line between marriage and “torshideh” – any day now my mom is going to ask me to move in with her because I’m past my prime for a husband.

My parents are always hesitant to ask me about dating. They know I’m going to reply with that exasperated sigh and an annoyed “stop asking me stupid questions” response.

Part of me hates getting their hopes up if I am seeing someone and the other part hates hearing their obvious disappointment if I’m not seeing someone.

It’s a lose-lose situation.

khloeBut of course, when it comes to the future of my love life, they don’t really care about their aberoo – they always find a way to slip it in with every phone conversation.

Their voice drops three octaves lower and they say,

So azizam, are you seeing any-vone?”  [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.





SARA  سارا

The Best Advice is No Advice At All

One of my biggest pet peeves is when friends in relationships turn to me and assure me to “not worry” and that I will “find someone.

The same goes with any advice columns in women’s magazines that prey on women and girls’ insecurities. They proceed to tell me all the things I ‘m doing wrong, and all the ways in which I could change myself so that I can meet that special person.

I’ve heard my fair share of advice on how to meet guys.  EVERY SINGLE piece of “advice” about how to meet guys and what I should do to meet that someone special that I can swab spit with regularly.

After hearing all of this, I can safely say that all of these morsels of “truth” are bullshit.

cosmo Be Confident:

How many times have you heard that girls have to be confident to get a guy?

I’m all for girls being confident and working on their self-esteem, but for themselves, not for a guy.

Plus, this is absolute BULL SHIT. I’ve lost count of the number of immature, self conscious, and oblivious girls that have boyfriends lining up for them. You probably know at least one girl who is a mess, lacks self-esteem, but somehow has a boyfriend.

 You are intimidating:

I was once told that I should be more docile so that men don’t feel intimidated by me. To this piece of useless advice I say: FUCK YOU.  If being in a relationship is more important than being comfortable in my own strength and who I am, then I don’t want a relationship.

If a guy is so sensitive that he cannot take a woman with goals and opinions because it makes him feel like he is losing his man-hood, then I don’t need his bullshit. [Read more…]

Say My Name


Yesterday I had brunch with my mama, and I can’t remember how this conversation started, but one moment she was suddenly asking me “Do you like your name?

Without even hesitating, I responded, “Yes! Of course!

She smiled and said, “I remember poring through a list of names and Naseem just stood out to me… it felt right. I knew you’d be a Naseem.”

Of course, I couldn’t always say that I loved my name…

There is a vivid memory floating around the back of my head that I desperately wanted to change my name to Kelly in second grade.


How does an eight year old decide with such conviction at that age

“oh shit gotta change my name ASAP, brb?” 

(I remember why I wanted the name Kelly: one of my favorite waitresses at the chelokabobi in town was named Kelly, and baba and I frequented that place with all my amoo’s in tow on a weekly basis). I told my parents about this desire, and of course, they did not oblige my request.

Fast forward to the reckless and angsty age of fourteen, where identity crisis is unavoidable.  Imagine the extra heaping of namak on my puberty-ridden rage wounds of wondering “who the hell am I turning into” with a name like Naseem on top of all the ish you deal with as a teenager.

I hated my name and started asking people to call me Jennifer. [Read more…]

Dating Disaster FOBS

Joons – this has been an exciting week. First, we introduced the wonderful Yasmine with her first post (click here). Tonight, we have another joon to introduce you to – Souraya. Check out her first post below and welcome her to the S&F fam. 

You are an Iranian-American girl, and meeting someone who shares the same culture sounds really appealing at first until you realize you’ve entered a drama web full of lost in translation exchanges. Those Farsi terms of endearment this FOB (Fresh off the Boat) guy is using go right over your head too.

Man jigharet o mikhoram.

What? You want to eat my liver? That sounds gross.

FOBs are another breed of man. They have a mix of traditional views on dating, while also claiming that they have “assimilated,” when they really exclusively date and hang out with other Iranians. I must say that I am describing the most stereotypical FOB guys, who want to put behind their baggage of dating in Iran, but can’t get over the cultural expectations that an Iranian girl should be pure, prude, passive, and a pushover that they can control.


At first FOB guys woe you in with how much they know about Iranian culture and how sensitive and in touch with their emotions they can be, but I quickly realized that this was a mask for their manipulation, drama, and possessiveness.

They have this idea that when they meet a girl they are supposed to know they love them right away.

You know like back in the day when they drove around the streets of Tehran, spotted an Iranian beauty, and it was love at first sight. [Read more…]

The ManWhore

Joonies – we’re introducing our lovely Egyptian writer Yasmine. Yasmine’s a reader, political thinker, and an-all around intelligent woman. Enjoy!

I recently had a conversation with a guy who thought he was being smart when, as he complained about his love life, exclaimed,

“Each time I run into one of these whores and she acts like she doesn’t know me, I just want to tell her, ‘bitch I’ve seen you naked!’”

My eyebrows may have well reached my hairline in shock as I sat listening to this buffoon complain about the amount of “cheap lays” he encountered. Had I been able to get a grip on my nerves, I would have told him that any girl in her right mind would certainly have full rights to disown him. More importantly however, I would have asked him a question that I feel ought to be asked to be generally addressed by many of us…

how do we find it acceptable to refer to women as whores within a conversation in which a male speaker demonstrates obvious whorish tendencies?

I hear many guys boast about their sexual records and each time I find it hard to understand how they have the guts to then call women whores.


 I am quite sure that many of you have overheard conversations with similar lines to the one above. Moreover, the Internet is flooded with “bitches (and hoes) be like” memes. Facebook too, continues to harbor many “hoe detection” pages. So why is it that men can admittedly boast of a hundred plus affairs and get away with it?

Worse still, when the word “manwhore” is used, it is often said in a teasing tone meant to enforce the impressiveness of the man’s sexual accomplishments. [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: