An open letter to the men of Turkey

25/02/2015

Dear men of Turkey,

I see that you are in an odd state of shame and unacceptance these days. You keep asking: “When did all men become perverts?” “How did we come here?” “Why do we read about femicide on the news every single day?”

You read about femicide on the news each day because male violence is happening on a daily basis in Turkey. You did not hear about it before because “somehow” these stories of women who were murdered by men, who were harassed and raped by men, were dissolved within the rest of the savagery news on the third pages of the newspapers. Nobody enjoys reading the third page and getting upset, no?

Finally more women started to raise their voices and with the fake attention of the media, femicide is a hot topic at last! Yet I find it quite ironic that this topic has just started to interest you… You act like you’ve just learned about male violence and I find it surprising to realize that you were so distant from the violence women have to face on a daily basis. I mean, really, are you sure we live in the same world? Or are you just estranged aliens?

I find it hard to believe… You really think all of these cases of femicide, the violence against women on a daily basis, the continuous pressure women have to face and the obsessive desire men have to control a women’s body is a new thing? It’s been 12 days since Özgecan was murdered and in these 12 days, 8 more women were killed by men in Turkey. You think it’s the state who’s responsible for this? You think it’s the perverts and only the perverts who are responsible? You think everything will change once the laws are applied? Once the “perverts” are put in jail? You are wrong! Sexism and patriarchy are responsible for this. Isn’t it time that you face the dirt you’ve been sweeping under the rug? Your own dirt!

You were not aware of male violence against women before, simply because you were a part of it. Come on now, you cannot solve this problem without accepting the fact that you are a part of this patriarchal society.

Hundreds thousands of women told their stories on how hard it is to live as a woman in Turkey with the hashtag #sendeanlat (#youtelltoo) Did you read them? After reading them could you say #ididittoo or #iamashamed ? How ashamed are you really? Do you know why you’re ashamed? You think all of those #youtelltoo stories are about men you don’t know? You think they’re all strangers? They are not! These are our stories and we are all a part of it! All of us! And now if we are to fight together as women and men, isn’t getting rid of our mentality that is infected with patriarchy, sexism and misogyny should be the first step?

You think of violence against women only on a physical scale, but why can’t you think of the psychological, sociological, educational, economical and political dimensions as well? These may seem like “minor” details for you but for us women, they are so tiring! If I was to talk about only one dimension, the other dimension would be left out. I’m not talking about the fact that when you’re walking as a woman in a dark street alone in Turkey, that you have to be cautious. I’m not talking about taking the licence plate number of each Taxi we take and texting the number to our friends in case he decides to kidnap us, or the fake phone calls we make during the taxi ride to our “owners” (fathers/husbands) so that he would not dear to flirt with us. I’m not talking about the possibility of harassment that is directed to our physical existence. We were thought how to fight that and how to develop tactics to protect ourselves, since the day we were born as girls. As if this is human nature… What I’m talking about is a different thing. It’s how your male minds oppress and violate women on a daily basis. What I’m talking about is how women are and have to be left behind in this patriarchal system.

What I’m talking about is when I said “I hate those men who rape me with their eyes as I’m walking down the street, as if they’ve never seen a woman before” my ex-boyfriend replied “but why do you look into their eyes?” What I’m talking about is when I said “they ask me if I’m married or not on job interviews and my job efficiency is questioned according to my fertility” my friend replied “but this information is on your ID, why would you refuse to provide it?” What I’m talking about is when female celebrities’ naked photos leaked online and when I warned my friend not to look at them, he replied “but they are celebrities because they love attention, they should have been more careful , it’s not my fault the photos leaked so I can enjoy looking at them.” What I’m talking about is when I said “women should have the right to have their own last name after marriage – even though that it comes from their father” my friend commented “but how will we determine the ancestry of people if they take any last name they want?” Or when I said “I don’t think we should use swear words that provoke sexual violence” this man asked me “so you will re-invent the language?” What I’m talking about is that when I said I find the Oscar Academy judges biased as they are 93% white, 76% male and with an average age of 63, some men tried to guilt me into being “politically correct” and who belittled my fight for women to be equal on all grounds and labeled it as “extreme sensitivity!” Or the time when I complained about women being shown in the media with the focus on their bodies, clothing, partners or children, my colleague replied “why do you complain about this instead of fighting for women women who are being raped?”

What I’m talking about is YOU! Your masculinity, that you have to prove at all times, your willingness to indcate that you know better about the difficulties women face. Your consistency to insist on proving your masculinity, and how you don’t understand this willingness to prove your maleness creates the men who rape women just because they would like to prove their masculinity. You think it’s only the women who have the capability to give birth, but you know nothing about the society which gives birth to gender roles, therefore “masculinity”.

As a person who defines herself a socialist, I have to comment on my leftist brothers as well. I accept the fact that feminist fight has changed over time and today feminists fight as well for the power defined by capitalism, which was created by the patriarchy. I accept that women fight to gain respect which is only gained by being aggressively masculine and using violence as a weapon. I know, economic income, the capital, has become a material for this fight of power. Perhaps one day we can sit down and discuss how power ended up being equal to being masculine and having capital, and how women are delusional to belive once they reach the power that is defined by this system, they will finally gain freedom!

I’m not against discussing all of these, yet you have to understand the main fight that we combat is gender equality. When you define the oppression women face on a daily basis through the fight for power in capitalism and private property rights, you forget about one thing: patriarchy. You tell us to give up on our fight with patriarchy and fight against capitalism instead. You tell us to give up on our fight with patriarchy and fight with religion instead. When we look at the history of humanity, of course it’s easy to see what capitalism has done to women, as women did not have the equal capital as men, and as they still do not, they fell behind on this competitive system. When we look at the history of humanity, of course it’s easy to see what religion has done to women by owning women as property and daring to have control over their fertility. Yet you fail to see the bigger picture! You fight so strong against capitalism and religion, that you forget it’s patriarchy that created them both!

Do you know what sisterhood means? Your race, age, language, religion, class or political views do not matter, as long as you protect your sisters. While you are so busy prioritizing what to fight against, how about you put patriarchy as a priority for once? Huh? Because just like Simone de Beauvoir said: “the combat between classes is deceptive, unless it’s consolidated with the combat of the women.”

So please, try to take a look at the bigger picture. Try to see what patriarchy has done to women, to us, as a society. Because for me, and for many other feminists who’ve put effort in this fight, we cannot combat together with men, who don’t understand patriarchy is the main problem, with men who do not see themselves as a part of this problem.

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