Young Iranian-Jewish women have not completely assimilated into American society nor have they socially distanced themselves from it; instead, they have formed a hybrid identity that has allowed them to pick and choose aspects of American society while still maintaining their Iranian- Jewish identity.In many instances, they have reclaimed Iranian-Jewish cultural beliefs and added their own Western interpretations.Yet, Iranian-Jewish culture is a major aspect of their lives.Given these sometimes competing cultural forces, first-generation Iranian Jews have learned how to balance multiple identities—those of an American, a Jew, and an Iranian.While many of my interviewees' mothers never openly discussed the values and beliefs about sexuality with their daughters, all the young women knew what was considered proper behavior through comments their mothers had made.Most of my interviewees are not virgins, even the ones whose mothers specifically discussed sexual matters with them.Married women come to these parties with their husbands in order to dress up, have fun, and get away from the kids.For single women this is the place to flirt, dance, and socialize in hopes of finding a husband.
As a member of the Iranian- Jewish community in Los Angeles, I asked women I knew from the community and also depended on other women to introduce me to my interviewees.A large community of Iranian Jews has been living in Los Angeles for more than twenty-five years and while the community has maintained its insularity, the children of Iranian-Jewish immigrants were born or have grown up in Los Angeles.Thus, unlike their parents, a majority of the children only know life in America.Iranian-Jewish women are raised to be is translated as pure, sweet, and virginal.This word is used specifically for women when discussing virginity, or lack of sexual experience.These women are in the process of a cultural syncretism and mixing that produces a hybrid identity which allows them to live in plural worlds revolving around their Iranian-Jewish culture, their American landscape, and their gender.Whether or not they realize it, they are appropriating a more egalitarian lifestyle while still respecting and paying homage to their parents and culture.Rebecca, a 19-year-old student, said that her mother discussed the proper way for her to act."She told me that I have to be modest because people are watching you in the Persian community and other people's opinions matter a lot.It matters what they think; you are always in the public eye." In an insular community where everyone knows the details of one another's business and personal lives, it becomes important for parents to make sure their daughters act appropriately and follow the rules and standards of the community.Parents want to ensure that their daughters do not get a bad reputation, because it can ruin their chances of marriage and tarnish the family name. Typically, American parents teach their children to be self-reliant, and the children grow up and move out, establishing households of their own.