A seven-year research study has revealed that Iranian youths are embarking in a sexual revolution, or ‘enqelab-i-jensi’ in Iran to revolt against the government’s laws.
Pardis Mahdavi, assistant professor at Pomona College, conducted research from 2000 to 2007 in the urban city of Tehran where she interviewed 110 youths on the sexual movement.
“Typically what we now hear about…Iran [is] about nuclear weapons, we hear about clerics, we hear about the latest crazy thing that president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said, but we don’t hear about our actual majority of Iran’s population, mainly the youth, and we don’t hear of this emerging youth movement that’s going on,” said Mahdavi.
The event, titled “Sexuality, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll in The Islamic Republic of Iran: A Sexual Revolution,” was held at Whitsett room March 25.
Sexual revolutions are known to start in urban cities, said Mahdavi. In Tehran 17 million out of the 70 million Iranians who live there and 70 percent of Iranian population are youths.
“[The] sexual revolution has actually resulted in a lot of change taking place and [is] hope for many of us hoping for a potential regime change,” said Mahdavi.
Mahdavi gave two anecdotes that showed the transformation of the youth movement with the morality police.
The morality police in Iran make sure that laws against alcohol, drugs and sexual encounters before marriage aren’t broken, said Mahdavi.
In 2000, the morality police chased Mahdavi and a friend because they had been caught drinking, Mahdavi said. But in 2007, a morality police officer stopped her and a friend for hitting him with a car, but instead of arresting them, her friend showed a little bit of skin to the officer and he invited Mahdavi for dinner, she added.
The events were extreme contrast with each other in a country were sex before marriage is not allowed and women have to cover their faces and bodies, said Mahdavi.
However, Mahdavi presented a slide show of recent pictures on how women in Iran are using their clothing in a more seductive way.
“You see that they got very brightly colored head scarves?I don’t think much of their hair is being covered here, they have very tight outer coats…all of this they see as part of the sexual revolution,” said Mahdavi as she pointed out a recent picture of female youths.
“These young people in an attempt to sort of say ‘we are not with the regime, we don’t agree with it,’ they are embodying it, they are supporting their resistance,” Mahdavi said. “They say ‘this is a regime that has more laws on our body, more laws on how we should dress, on who we can socialize, than they do on basic infrastructure,'” she said.
A young Iranian girl cannot understand why she can’t go to church and pray if she does not take her nail polish off, Mahdavi said. The girl says she wants to look good for God, just like she does with her friends.
Even though the youths are rebelling, they are not informed correctly on sexually transmitted diseases and protection, Mahdavi said.
But the youths are more concerned with social risks than with viral risks, Mahdavi said. The social risks the youth might face are the morality police or their parents.
Nayareh Tohidi, chair and professor of the women’s studies department, co-sponsor the event to bring in Mahdavi.
“We are very interested in not only in gender studies in the United States but also cross-culturally and globally and I myself specialized in the Middle East…so we bring people that are doing new research, so that our students can be updated of the new findings,” Tohidi said about inviting Mahdavi to CSUN.