Pardis Mahdavi, author of Passionate Uprisings: Iran's Sexual Revolution , has been featured in numerous articles and reviews recently, including appearances in The Nation, Financial Times, and The Australian.
Laura Secor's article in The Nation takes an extensive look at Mahdavi's research which includes 7 years of visiting, observing, and interviewing upper-middle-class youth in Tehran. The article discusses Iran's strict laws surrounding sexuality (i.e. unfaithful wives may be subject to public stonings) and how some younger Iranians are secretly circumventing those laws through orgies and cruising for anonymous sex partners. Despite the increase of sexual rebellion and promiscuity among Iranian youth, Mahdavi learned that sexual health education and knowledge was startling low.
"The birth control method of choice among Mahdavi's informants is withdrawal. Women who take the pill frequently lack the most basic information and take it only erratically, depriving themselves of almost all of its effect. Condoms are considered so filthy and embarrassing that even people who share florid details about their sex lives with Mahdavi blush at their mention, and no one wants to be seen requesting them at a pharmacy. AIDS, educated young Iranians tell Mahdavi, is transmitted through visits to the dentist or hairdresser, and other STDs come only from a certain unsavory sort of woman. While wealthy women can obtain abortions — illegal in most cases but common, thanks to poor contraception—from sympathetic doctors at vast expense, poorer women acquire on the black market pills or injections meant for animals."
Luke Slattery's opinion piece in The Australian notes the political underpinnings of Iran's sexual revolution, saying "the embrace of a liberal sexuality profoundly at odds with a repressive theocracy—make no mistake, this is a society where dissidents still disappear for their beliefs — is a gesture layered with deeper significance." Though Slattery remains realistic, referring to the increased sexuality as more of a rebellion than a revolution and contending that "this is a cruel regime, loathed by its young citizenry, but it will not prove easy to dislodge," while Mahdavi "is optimistic, nevertheless, that this passion for sexual self-expression will lead to greater liberalisation and, ultimately, real social change."