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Passionate Uprisings: Iran's Sexual Revolution

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0804758567
ISBN-10: 0804758565
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Part academic treatise, part titillation (there were forty or so young people present, all naked or in their undergarments... some having oral, anal, [or]vaginal sex), Mahdavi's work argues that the social and sexual practices of the urban young adults who comprise two-thirds of Iran's population constitute a form of political dissent and rebellion. While the punishments for premarital sex, drinking and dancing are severe, the author, a journalist and assistant professor of anthropology at Pomona College, captures a hedonistic, postadolescent and pure pop culture spirit, reflecting the interests and activities of the highly mobile, highly educated... underemployed and secular young Tehranis she followed over a seven-year period. Specialists in gender studies will find Mahdavi's work of interest; unfortunately, her book is suffused with a sense of outsider voyeurism (the author's parents are Iranian; she made her first trip there in 2000)—apparent in such her discomfiting statements as Tell me, the stranger who can keep your secrets, about your sex life. And while, inarguably, changes in fashion, as Mahdavi says, have deep social and political significance, readers will likely feel that these shifting sartorial trends indicate gradual social change rather than the revolution at which the author hints. (Oct.)
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Review

"Mahdavi's Tehran orgy signals a profound shift in post-revolutionary Iran, as young adults in a young world (two-thirds of the Iranian population consists of urbanites under 30) challenge the regime, although not by anything so political as street rebellion or samizdat pamphleteering. Their preferred methods of protest are sexual adventurism -- the orgy or drug and booze-fuelled party -- and sexual self-expression of a more subtle kind: skimpy underwear, worn beneath the hijab, sends a f..k-you message to the morality police and plants a sly inward smile on the face of the wearer. Passionate Uprisings will...dispel the ignorance in the West about Iran, its people and their tragedy. It should also check any residual sympathy anti-American Westerners may hold for the regime simply on account of its belligerence towards President George W. Bush. This is a cruel regime, loathed by its young citizenry, but it will not prove easy to dislodge." —The Australian


"The book is in essence an academic work but it will attract the general reader with its occasionally titillating subject matter (she does not shy away from describing sexual encounters and orgies). For Mahdavi's thesis is that the changes in sexual practices and in the sartorial choices of Iran's youth indicate a 'revolution' of conscious resistance to the regime." —Financial Times


"Part academic treatise, part titillation, Mahdavi's work argues that the social and sexual practices of the urban young adults 'who comprise two-thirds of Iran's population' constitute a form of political dissent and rebellion. While the punishments for premarital sex, drinking and dancing are severe, the author, a journalist and assistant professor of anthropology at Pomona College, captures a hedonistic, postadolescent and pure pop culture spirit, reflecting the interests and activities of the 'highly mobile, highly educated... underemployed' and secular young Tehranis she followed over a seven-year period." —Publishers Weekly


"Passionate Uprisings offers a unique and amazing look into the ongoing Iranian sexual revolution. That's right—hot sex in the Islamic Republic! Mahdavi documents the secret parties, trysts, and even orgies of rebellious Iranian youth, constantly asking whether a sexual revolution can evolve into a political one. As a close friend of her informants and often a participant in their high-jinks, she's the perfect companion on this unlikely journey—sympathetic, knowledgeable and super-smart!" —Barbara Ehrenreich, best-selling author of Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream (2005)


"Passionate Uprisings carves a clear trail through the jungle of ideology about life in modern-day Iran, and breaks new ground to show how sex is used by young people in a Muslim country to resist political oppression. A fascinating book unlike any other." —Sally Guttmacher, New York University
"The controversial change in sexual attitudes and mores the author documents is real, present, and a major factor in the transformation of Iranian life. I particularly welcome Mahdavi's sincere portrayal of Iranian women as strong, in control of their destinies, and able to make decisions for themselves, even if those decisions fly in the face of conventional morality. The book is exceptionally true and honest." —William Beeman, University of Minnesota
"Kudos to Pardis Mahdavi for shining the light on the most taboo subject in the Iranian culture, sex. Her book shows the degree to which the Islamic government has failed the younger generation—how the constant presence of the Morality Police and the accompanying lack of personal freedoms has led to a breakdown in morals. Mahdavi's work brings to the forefront the long-term consequence of this high-risk sexual behavior and the importance of basic personal freedoms, even under an Islamic government."—Firoozeh Dumas, author of Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America
"Mahdavi's best and most groundbreaking material has to do with the public health implications of this rift between generations and between acknowledged and unacknowledged behaviors, as well as the society's slow and patchy but often ingenious educational response." —The Nation
"Passionate Uprisings dispels the one-dimensional and overly simplified view of Iran and its people through the oft-recycled image of women in veils." —Women's Review of Books
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press (September 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804758565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804758567
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #461,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert L. Moore on December 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Passionate Uprisings is a surprisingly informative book even for those who have kept up with social trends in contemporary Iran. Its most revealing message is that a large segment of Tehran's population has committed itself to a sexual revolution that packs a political punch.

The phrase "sexual revolution" will, for many Americans, conjure up images of the 1960s counter culture also famous for politically relevant sexual transformations. But given the fundamental differences between 21st century Tehran and 1960s America, this comparison will conceal as much as it reveals.

Something very few Americans ever faced was the prospect of incarceration and a brutal whipping for a sexual transgression. Furthermore, when Iran's conservative government-backed morality police are in high gear, "sexual transgression" can include such modest actions as wearing lipstick or letting one's hair slip out from under one's head covering. As these references to lipstick and errant locks of hair imply, Iranian women are more vulnerable than are men to assaults by the morality police, but both genders are subject to beatings and imprisonment for supposedly provocative behavior.

Even more astonishing than the ruthlessness of the authorities is the courage of the Iranians, particularly young Iranians, as they organize their sexually charged basement parties and gather in public places to flirt with outrageously straightforward intent. And for many of them, these acts of defiance are not only exciting for their own sake, they are also intentionally political.
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Pardis Mahdavi is a professor at Pomona College where I went after high school and before medical school. Her father is a friend, professional colleague and my otolaryngologist. The book is fascinating and very revealing of the true activities of the Iranian youth.
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Format: Hardcover
Having interviewed Pardis on my radio show, I was excited to share my thoughts about the book and her overall intention of writing it.

PASSIONATE UPRISINGS allows you to see another view of Iran that is not talked about alot, especially in the states. Their views on sex and sexuality are interesting in that in some ways the thoughts of some Iranian people are not that far from some in the states--though the actions might be a stark contrast.

Pardis chronicles the experiences she had in trying to understand what was happening in the country, and the people she talked with were able to share the truth that they lived in a way that was honest and raw.

This is a book you should definitely read and then find a way to learn more on your own. You might be surprised at what you find.
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This book does an excellent job of depicting the level of frustration of a large portion of Iranians today. It goes a long way in helping Westerners understand the anger and protests that erupted after the last elections why so many were willing to risk so much (life & personal freedom) to try to enable change in this very closed and controlled country.
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Given all the unrest in Iran when the Iranians are looking for
modest liberties, this book gives real insight into some of
that scene.
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Like the tip of a gigantic iceberg, Ms. Mahdavi's book on Iran's sexual revolution vividly describes the history, frustration, hopes, and fears of Iran's youth which embrace sex as a means of rebellion. Find out the complexities which created and continues to influence Iran's sexual revolution.

I have followed the recent elections in Iran with fascination and I wonder if an implosion or an explosion is building. If it happens it will, no doubt, have repercussion which will reverberate throughout the 21st century.

I recommend this fascinating read even if you are not interested in Iran or sex! This country on the opposite side of the Earth from the US will continue to play an important part in the world community and it behooves all Americans and westerners to understand Iran's culture, mores, and politics--why not start at the top and work down? Healing the Rift: Bridging the Gap Between Science and Spirituality
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