Sex in the Axis of Evil

Dew: The artwork for the original series “Sex and Lies” was created for an exhibit at the gallery Le Lys in Paris. More of this art can be viewed at
Artwork by Mirko Ilic´

I moved to the U.S. from Iran when I was five. I returned for a visit when I was 18. By then, in line with my mother's worst nightmare, America had made me a slut.

Of course, a slut—according to the Islamic regime, or the average secular Iranian for that matter—is any woman who fucks, sucks, or even dates before she's married. Don't get me wrong, I was no angel by American standards. But according to Islamic law, there is no such thing as a prenuptial date. In fact, the only men a woman can be lawfully seen with in public are her brother, father, or uncle. And yes, the rifle-bearing police will stop and check your ID. And if they catch you on a 'date' they can and will arrest you, or whip you. In extreme cases officials will stone you to death—under Muslim law, as is being demonstrated in Nigeria, sex with a person not your husband is a capital crime. Needless to say, this extreme sense of danger made for some exceptional sex.

His name was Ali. He was a "friend of the family." I met him at my aunt's house; he lived downstairs. He was at least 10 years older than me and claimed to have never fucked a woman. I didn't care if he was lying; I intended to do him as no one had done him before.

No one could know. The family's honor, my safe return home, and even my life depended on it.

We started in my aunt's living room. After everyone had gone to bed, he knocked. I was busy with my hand down my pants in anticipation. I walked to the door, opened it, and stuck my wet fingers in his mouth. He went down on me on my uncle's prayer rugs. A light went on in the kitchen.

Days later we wanted desperately to finish what we had started, in a secure place. Unfortunately (and fortunately), in Tehran there wasn't one. We began walking uptown, trying to find a spot. Every once in a while we separated, pretending we didn't know each other. Then, when it seemed we were alone, he grabbed my waist, pushed me down a narrow walkway, and lifted me to straddle him, slipping his hands up my shirt. His mouth touched my nipples as I watched over my shoulder for passing strangers. He watched the street intently as he sucked. A woman was sweeping a few yards away. She was looking our way, but didn't see us.

We exchanged no words that day, just the understanding that we were breaking countless laws—the stakes were high; we were hot. His hands moved around my ass, his fingers frantic between my lips. Suddenly we heard men's voices.

We met that night on the roof. I was leaving the next morning. My aunt had been giving me strange looks for a few days. The moon was full, but we took our chances, quietly rolling on cold concrete, finally alone. I got on top of him. He was at my mercy. I had complete control. In that moment all traditional gender roles were reversed. I was the most powerful woman in the Persian Gulf.

I realized then, observing how desperate his face looked as he came, maybe this is what all those fundamentalist patriarchs have feared this whole time. Maybe they know this is just the beginning.

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