Being A Woman In Turkey

For those who know less or none about Turkey, it is a medium sized country and geopolitically important as it was founded on the lands of both Asia and Europe. In Turkey’s history, there lies a drastic shift from fundamentalism to secularism, a transition from patriarchal structure to egalitarian structure thanks to our great founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He was not only a civilized man but so much more, his contemporary views and knowledge brought peace, equality, stability, and democracy to the lands of Turkey. However, after his death, growth and improvement slowed down and even stopped in each and every field. Today, this very country I have lived in since I was born has nothing to offer me as a modern young woman except social oppression and social alienation. If you live in a developing ( which is the smartest tactic to avoid saying “not developed” since something is either developed or not developed) country you’ll probably know what I’m about to tell. Tell me in how many countries do people betray their founders who had done everything at the cost of their lives in order to help their people find a place among modern and democratic countries?

Let me just start by saying that being a woman in Turkey is not as sweet as the taste of a Turkish delight. As ridiculous as it sounds, it is pretty challenging to convince Turkish society to accept both your presence and your identity as a woman, especially in the 21st century. Have I ever told you that just by walking through my neighborhood I get to witness the portrait of a social collapse that has increasingly been growing and spreading in my country? People are instinctively ignorant and are naturally hungry for the information that is none of their businesses at all. A lot of people will try to impose on you this fake perception, ” Turkey is a modern country and there have been many developments in so many fields.”  There is no such acceptable term as “developing”, something is either developed or undeveloped. Well, sorry to be saying this but when they fake a modern impression regarding Turkey, “BULLSHIT !” is the only word that crosses through my mind.  I don’t understand why they are so decisive to fake such a thing. Is it because they really believe in what they say or is it just an unfounded show of strength with respect to their “sense” of belonging. It is hard to say. They’re busy covering what’s really going on in Turkey and the next thing you know, you want to go out less because your happiness is very likely to be shaded by some strangers. Oh, and no it is not just that. You can not keep yourself calm and stay positive especially when you hear the news telling that “a boy was found dead, he was raped and murdered”, ” a Syrian refugee girl molested by an old Turkish man, they released the man due to his age”, ” a 7 year old girl was forced by her own mother to have sex with his longtime boyfriend, they released the mother”, ” a doctor was shot by a relative of her patient “, ” a girl was abused by a stranger on the bus, they released him because the girl was wearing a skirt”, “a woman was raped while she was on her way home, they released the man saying that he had mental problems and couldn’t be found guilty and he also said that” she was wearing a red lipstick and smiling, so I wanted to have sex with her” and many more are coming out every single day in this country. I will tell you the most annoying part, in Turkey people have a very sick perception of dignity, they think dignity is something to do with sexuality. Of course, it is because of their religious belief which has been walking hand in hand with the widespread traditions. Girls are being taught to keep themselves covered in this country otherwise, it is considered an invitation to any potential abuse. If a woman wears a very colorful dress, she might be a slut and she deserved to be touched. Both men and women live by these twisted rules. In this country, both authorities and society always find a way to justify each murder and each abuse against women and children. The Presidency of Religious Affairs gives fatwas! Yes, you’ve heard it right! This is happening in 2018, in Ataturk’s Turkey as if Turkey is some Arabic country! Thanks to former governments who pretended to govern Turkey after the death of Ataturk, they worked so hard not to educate people, they did exactly what they were told to do, they stole from their own people, they put honest journalists and writers in jails as they killed many others. Well, in case you don’t know how powerful Ataturk was, I can tell you that he would never ever let his peoples to be fooled by some puppets who have been corrupting and manipulating religion. Once upon a time, on these lands, there was a miraculous form of education. The Village Institutes please go ahead and have a watch. It was a very comprehensive educational revolution, children would read world classics, they would learn about farming, crafting, cooking, agriculture, they would learn how to play an instrument. Therefore, children would become modern individuals that could help this country improve. One of those children was my grandfather of whom I am very proud. These institutes taught students the very essence of equality and democracy. On every Saturday, a meeting was held where teachers and students used to express their opinions along with their complaints. These students became young men and women and they returned their villages as teachers to spread their knowledge in order to educate others children living in the lands of Turkey. Unfortunately, this educational revolution was removed by the Turkish government in 1954. That way they could create and rule less- informed masses who are not capable of making rational decisions. Tell me in how many countries is every single form of abuse being justified right in front of the society itself by “respectful” authorities?

I go wherever I want by walking and rarely use public transportations as I do enjoy walking so much. It’s good for my health and it’s good for my soul. Unfortunately and sadly, whenever I go out for a walk or walk just to get somewhere- which happens almost every day- everybody especially men keep staring at me. No, not because I wear fancy clothes or I am very, very beautiful. It is because I am a woman. It makes no sense at all. Say hello to the Stone Age ! It feels very uncomfortable, feeling so many eyes checking me and my body. And the thoughts passing through my mind, ” Well, yes I do have breasts and a vagina. Now how weird is that ?! ” They consistently keep staring at girls and women due to their uneducated primitive urge,  undisciplined thoughts, “reasoned” and “justified” disrespect toward the very presence of women. At the end of the day, it’s only getting harder as almost all assaults against women are highly ignored. Tell me in how many countries do people place tables and chairs in front of their stores so that they can watch girls and women more easily ?

Verbal harassment, da-daaaa! Welcome to my daily life. It is no secret that women and the place of women in each and every aspect of life have disappeared and undermined. A few years ago, I used to be verbally harassed once or twice a month. Annoyingly, now I am disturbed by strange men every time I am outside all by myself. If I smile or laugh reasonably loud, then I become an easy target for them. They find the courage within themselves to approach me in a disturbingly possessive way. They are likely to think that it is very inappropriate for a woman to seem very happy. So, this would be no exaggeration to point out women rights is just a term nowadays in this country. After all, it makes no sense to talk about women rights when there are no individual rights at all. This is how this society of which I am a member made me an aggressive person. I did not and probably would never choose to be an aggressive person. Who is to blame? Systemically and strategically implemented deterioration! Once deterioration occurs it spreads rapidly in the environment, policies, economy, and society which causes aggression, frustration and disappointment. Eventually, as a woman, my enthusiasm about living my life as I wish, has gradually been decreasing as I am not allowed to fulfill myself freely. A salute for Duygu Asena! She was an amazing activist and an inspiration for many women in this country.

For this country has been dictating to me what to wear, how to wear, how to walk, how to behave….and so on it becomes more inevitable to stay calm and happy. Tell me in how many countries, is it the women who are considered to be the reason of disturbance and have to pay extra attention to their clothes, their make-up, their actions whereas it is the men who need to be introduced to modern approaches?

I am a realist person as if I have another choice in Turkey 🙂 Turkey has a long way to RUN in terms of improvements. Women are as responsible as men. They built and protected every inch of this dysfunctional system and they won’t stop. There is an unfair system in Turkey. This system is being led by women and men who are so ashamed of saying ” I am a feminist”, who do not protest any unfair treatment exercised by government, who are unwilling to help others fight for their rights, who are drowned in lust and do everything for money, who don’t make any effort in terms of women rights and equality, who misunderstand the concept of religions and so on. This system operates against not only women but also children. This system is so determined to isolate women and train people with religious based principles. There needs to be a revolution as there is no way to re-educate current generation. Honestly, it will take almost 100 years to have a generation that consists of intellectual, reactive and sensitive individuals.

I am against all traditions, all customs, all perceptions, all social pressures that embrace and focus on manipulating and materializing my body and my identity as a woman. I am against this order that has deliberatively been functioning to set walls in front of me as a woman. I am against this stubbornly ongoing approach which gives conditioned roles to me as a woman according to single sided standards and rules seeking nothing but the welfare of males and male dominant society. I am against to be, do, live and speak less than I can as a woman.

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