Distractingly sexy!

11/06/2015

Once upon a time, there was a scientist who lived in England. The name of this scientist was Tim Hunt and in 2001 he won a Nobel Prize for discovering protein molecules that control the division of cells, which contributed a lot to cancer treatment medicine. Congratulations to Mr. Scientist!

This year Tim Hunt attended the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea, after all he was a scientist! Mr. Scientist, had a big problem in his life, which he had to confess during the WCSJ President lunch, sponsored by Korean female scientists and engineers. And the 72 year old man, who contributed his life to science confessed:

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls… Three things happen when they are in the lab… You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticize them, they cry.” He also added that he was in favor of single-sex labs, and that he did not want to stand in the way of women.

This declaration could not be accepted anywhere, yet there are so many places that it could be declared. But amongst all of the places, giving out a declaration like this on a lunch sponsored by female scientist and engineers? What a brilliant example of how a male scientist’s mind works! Congratulations to Mr. Scientist!

Once upon a time, there once lived some women who could have gained access to education decades after men, showed interest in science! How dare they show interest in science in these patriarchal times? How dare they work in the same laboratories with men?

Dear women, as you can see, even our existence is an excuse for men to get distracted! We make them fall in love with us, we fall in love with them and we withhold them from saving the world! By the way, we are so emotional, such drama queens! How dare we show our emotions and cry? Our intolerance to criticism prevents men to do science! If we were not to cry, in a parallel universe, men would have formed an alternative way of living in a different planet! All of this is the fault of the women! Shame on us!

So many people believe that misogyny and sexism exists only among the uneducated people who are in the socio-economically lower class. They think all problems would be solved with education! Of course, they’re right, education is the key. There you go, take this educated, elite man; he’s the answer to all of your solution plans!

Women, whom were righteously raged by Tim Hunt’s “confession” showed their anger through media and press, and of course there was a backlash on social media. Women, with the call of Vagenda Magazine have started a hashtag #distractinglysexy and female scientists from all around the world started tweeting their photos from work place with this hashtag.

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Tim Hunt, quite upset with the reactions, gave out a statement. I guess we broke his heart. He got quite “emotional.” He said: “[Falling in love] is very disruptive to the science, because it’s terribly important that in a lab people are on a level playing field and I find that these emotional entanglements make life very difficult. I’m really sorry that caused any offense, that’s awful, I didn’t mean to, I just meant to be honest.”

So basically what he says is that women, just by being women, provoke emotions. Not just provoke emotions, they show it!

Women, just by wearing miniskirts, provoke men’s desire. Not just provoke desire, they enable rape!

I don’t think I’d be able to discuss feminism with anyone who does not see the relation between these two sayings. Being raped, having a job and increasing unemployment, working in a lab and preventing science… All is the fault of the women!

Probably Mr. Hunt would know the story of Marie Sklodowska-Curie, yet I’m sure there are some parts he’s missed out. Marie Sklodowska-Curie is a well known physicist and chemist, known for her discoveries on radioactivity. She’s the first women to win the Nobel Prize, and again the first and only women to win it for twice. She’s also the first person who’s won the Nobel Prize in multiple sciences. Does Mr. Hunt know that while Marie Sklodowska-Curie put milestones on the history of the research of radioactivity, she’s worked collaboratively with her husband Pierre Curie? Does he know that even though she was a graduate of the Sorbonne University, she was not eligible to become a professor and only after the sudden death of her husband, she could take his position to become the first female professor in Sorbonne? One love, one man, one woman, two kids and lots of emotions have contributed to science, without any distractions!

Probably Mr. Hunt would know the story of Lise Meitner, yet I’m sure there are some parts he’s missed out. She was a scientist working on radioactivity and nuclear physics, and she worked collaboratively with her male colleagues on nuclear fission, and the result was a Nobel Prize on 1938. But guess what? Lise Meitner did not win the prize, her contribution to the research was completely ignored just because she was a women! The truth could publicly come out on 1997 finally and here’s the prize she won: the name of the element 109 was changed to meitnerium after her name. Women do cry dear Mr. Hunt; they’re not ashamed to cry, not because they’re women, but because they are not afraid to hide their emotions like macho men are trying to! Yet you should know that Lise Meitner, whose work has been ignored, did not shed a tear and kept up her fight!

The problem is not us women being “distractively sexy” Mr. Hunt, the problem is that your attention span is affected by external factors, to the extent that you get distracted with the existence of a woman! Well you’re a scientist after all; maybe it’s time that you research about your attention problem: sexism!

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How dare we bleed?

19/04/2015

Each month for at least 3 days (it could last up to 10 days when I was an adolescent) I bleed! As my unfertilized eggs leave my body, my womb refreshes itself for the next month, so that I can reproduce. I bleed each month so that humankind can continue, but how dare do I bleed?

22 year old student and poet from Ontario, Rupi Kaur, just like most of the other women, bleeds each month. She also faces some health problems due to her menstruation. She shot a series of photos of menstruation in order to turn this into a school project and she shared these photos on Instagram. How dare she?

Because these photographs got reported as “inappropriate content” Instagram deleted her photos, not just once but twice. How dare could Rupi Kaur upload those photos on a platform where women, even preadolescent girls are being sexually objectified?

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Instead of celebrating our fertility that leaks from our womb, from our legs, they impose this on us as a source of shame! As if it’s the storks that brought us to earth. As if nobody knows that it’s that blood, which they describe as filthy, gross, as a sickness, that brings life to earth when it’s fertilized! You were created from that blood that leaks; it’s that blood which gave you your life!

Just like Rupi Kaur said, it’s not our blood that is leaking, “their patriarchy is leaking, their misogyny is leaking!”

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Before patriarchy virus has taken over the planet, during the Paleolithic and Neolithic Age, women were blessed as they were the only ones to combat death, by giving birth. I’m not talking about being blessed in terms of being decent and modest; I’m talking about how women were respected because of their fertility and how their fertility was being celebrated.

Celebrating that? How dare we?

I grew up in Turkey and I remember when I first had my period, my mom slapped me. So that my cheeks would blossom just like my womb. This was just one example of many other superstitious beliefs of hers.

During middle school, we talked about our periods with my girlfriends in private. We had code names for it such as “there’s a bloody war” or “I have a visitor”. Learning the tricks on how to hide the sanitary pads inside our school skirts and making it to the toilets was a marathon itself!

We did all of these because we were taught to gentrify our menstruation. Anything that’s gentrified turns into a taboo and all the taboos turn into an exaggerated subject of attention. So boys’ interest on this subject and their willingness to embarrass girls over this has increased as well. I remember the boys going through the bag of a girl in our class, finding a sanitary pad and sticking it on her desk. If she’s reading this right now, I apologize with all my heart that I kept quiet and did not defend her just like the rest of the class!

I do not dare to talk about tampons as they did not exist! I believe they’re still not so accessible in Turkey. Do not dare to stuff a tampon in your vagina and risk breaking your hymen, so that the mentality infected with bigotry could go on! On an emergency situation, we had to survive with the sanitary pads that we bought from the local store covered in newspaper, the ones that had the nylon surface which irritated our vaginas. Plus, even though that we needed those pads for natural reasons, we had to and we still do pay 18% tax on these products!

We grew up and turned into women who have sexual lives. “My partner does not want to have sex with me during my period because he gets grossed out.” I heard this so many times from women. Or I hear men say: “there are some men out there, who are so desperate that they could even f.ck a woman who’s on her period.” I listened to women saying “I forgot to hide my sanitary pads in the bathroom when my boyfriend came over, I’m so embarrassed.”

Thus and so, our period, that is the proof of our fertility, which was associated with abundance back in the day, turned into a sickness, something that is filthy and worst of all, turned into something confidential.

Last month, Elone Kastrati, a 19 year old feminist activist living in Germany did a great protest by herself! She wrote feminist quotes on sanitary pads and she stuck them around in Karlsruhe, the city she lives in. I believe the one that was the most meaningful was: “imagine if men were as disgusted with rape as they are with periods.”

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Just like Elone Kastrati’s protest went viral, Rupi Kaur’s story got viral as well and Instagram has apologized from her and uploaded her photos back. As you can see from these examples this issue is not only specific to Turkey or conservative cultures. Patriarchy’s pressure on the fertility of women is universal. These success stories are the ones that begin the change, but it’s us who will continue to make this change happen.

Us women, we bleed, each month. Because of us, humankind can survive. We produce and reproduce. How dare do they try to turn this into something to be ashamed of, something confidential and how dare do they humiliate women with this? We will continue to bleed each month, so that humankind can go on, and neither we’ll be ashamed of this nor we will hide it!

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.

The women who made 8th of March International Women’s Day

08/03/2015

Today is International Women’s day, actually it’s International Working Women’s day; so many women will be on the streets, the media will talk about women only and just for a day we will remember all those rights patriarchy took away from women, and then continue with our regular lives the day after. Special days and dates are just for this, aren’t they?

Would you like to learn how 8th of March became International Women’s Day? Women’s rights history is such a long one and it’s one which is full of fights, so it’s impossible to sum it in an article. Even if I was to right volumes of books, a part of it would always be missing. We’re talking about a system which refused to believe that matriarchal societies existed in history, up until 18th century evidence was found. A system which was based on ignoring women. So the struggle behind 8th of March becoming International Women’s Day is a long one.

Everything begins with the fight that was given against the irreplaceable product of patriarchy: capitalism. As discrimination between men and women exists everywhere, including the cruel discrimination amongst the working class. Women’s workforce is seen as cheap labor and easy to abuse. On March 8, 1957 women workers in the textile industry who were forced to work 16 hours a day went into a strike in New York. Their strike has gained so much attention that other workers in the textile and tobacco industry went into strikes as well. Just like women giving birth to life, the women resistance in New York gave birth to a bigger resistance of other workers. This is just the beginning of the fight in the States.

Meanwhile in Europe, it would be impossible not to mention an awesome woman like Clara Zetkin. On 1874 she started to unite the women’s rights movement with the workers’ resistance in Germany. On 1879 with the state banning socialist propaganda she went into exile in Paris, and she continued her work on uniting women’s resistance and workers’ resistance there. In 1889 on the founding day of Second International (an organization of social and labor parties) she presented a speech on the difference between proletarian women’s resistance and middle-class women’s resistance. She underlined the fact that middle-class women’s resistance will not free all women, that the resistance of proletarian women would bring a broader freedom for all women. Considering that it was an era when men who did not have private property just gained the right to vote, her point of view is quite realistic.

As the States side of the fight grew bigger, on 1908 over 15,000 worker and immigrant women, marched for less working hours, better payment and the right to vote. The Socialist Party which supported the growing women’s rights movement, declared 28th of February National Women’s Day on 1909. As the worker women’s movement kept growing bigger, mostly young and immigrant women from the working class went into a big strike called “Uprising of 20,000” for over 3 months. Yet all of this resistance caused no change in the law, up until the big fire in Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on 25 March 1911. Mostly young and immigrant women between the ages of 16-23 were locked inside the factory in order to prevent theft. 123 women and 23 men died that day by burning, by suffocating or by jumping off the windows trying to save their lives. After this massacre, on April 5th 1911, over 80,000 people marched for fair working rights.

Meanwhile in Europe, in 1910, Clara Zetkin called for an official day in order to “specify and discuss women’s issues” on the Second International Women Conference and her suggestion was accepted. The day was accepted as 19th of March and with the declaration of this day, many women started rebelling in different countries across Europe. Yet unfortunately no union was made upon one specific date.

And here we come to today. The day that made 8th of March International Women’s day. On 1917, according to the Julian calendar a day in February but according to the Gregorian calendar on 8th of March, women in Russian Empire started a resistance called “bread and peace.” This resistance that they started in Petrograd (Saint Petersburg) is seen as the beginning of the famous February Revolution in Russian Empire. After this resistance, Russian Empire has collapsed and women gained the right to vote. In order to honor the women of Russia who started a revolution, the socialist platforms decided to declare 8th of March as International Women’s Day. UN’s acceptance and declaration of this day could only happen later in 1975.

So what’s the perception in Turkey of this day which was gained by such effort and struggle? There are discounts on laser epilation for Women’s Day. Long live the women who choose to give up on all of their body hair in order to look prettier to their men! There are shopping campaigns where you get a pearl necklace as a free gift for Women’s Day. Long live the women who put up with the pressure they face at home, who overlook their husbands’ infidelity and get happy with pearl necklaces! There are discounts on irons, frying pans and vacuum cleaners today. Long live the women who are not seen as anything but house workers! There are discounts on flower shops today, for those who say “every woman is a flower.” There’s a great answer from KEIG (Women’s Work and Employment Initiative) for this saying: “woman is woman and flower is your old man!”

Excuse me but 8th of March, a day won by worker women’s hard struggle, by women losing their lives, by women going into strike and losing their paycheck, by forming organizations and giving conferences, does not mean a day for beauty industry’s discount campaigns and definitely does not mean flowers! This day is for you to become aware of what these women and many more did for the rights women have right now. This day is for you to see all the other rights patriarchy took from women, still did not give back and will definitely refuse to give back unless women resist and unite. 8th of March is not for sacred mothers, obedient women and well-mannered girls, it’s to demolish these stereotypes! This day is for you to listen to the calls and demands of the women who are out on the streets today! Isn’t it time that you treat 8th of March, the way it’s supposed to be treated?

Can men be feminists?

21/02/2015

Do you believe that men and women should have equal rights?

– Of course!

Do you believe we should fight for these rights?

– Of course!

Then you’re a feminist as well!

– No I’m not! Why should I fight for women’s rights?

You have to see the fake comfort that you benefit because of patriarchy and fight against that.

– Women should fight for their rights and they should earn it. Why should I bother fighting for them?

Are you talking about the rights that patriarchy took from women? The rights that they should’ve had from the beginning?

– This is none of my business, this is not my fight; it’s the fight of women.

This was a dialog that I had with a man I once loved. We had argued on discussions like this for many times. I tried to justify his resistance. After all he was a man and he did not understand the respect that he automatically gained by being born with a penis. I was unable to bring myself to accept the fact that I was with a man who was not a feminist, so I blamed the penis and tried to justify him. Heterosexual feminists who have penises. Is that even possible?

Now he and others like him decided to support the women’s resistance in Turkey after the murder of Özgecan Aslan. Actually, they’re more in solidarity for stopping femicide, rape and sexual harassment in Turkey. This is a good start; yet how will they solve this problem without including themselves into the problem? Of course I don’t imply that all men are rapists or all men are potential criminals. What I’m saying is that without bringing patriarchy down, we cannot solve all the problems we face because of patriarchy, including rape.

Let’s make this clear first. Women are not under the custody of god like Erdoğan, the president of Turkey claims. Nobody is under anybody’s custody, and nobody owns anybody. It’s not the men’s responsibility to protect women. When you see women as a secondary gender who needs protection, you’re declaring women as impotent. You cannot stop rape by the possessive perception such as “how would you feel if this was done to your mother or sister?” (Unfortunately this is a very common perception in Turkey.) What will happen to the women who are not mothers or sisters? What will happen to those women you call “unclaimed for”? Do you think rape will end in a system where you have to stake out a claim for your mother, your sister, your wife? What will happen to them, when you fail to protect them? Someone said “we will stay in the bus until the last women on the bus gets off.” What will happen to that women after she gets off the bus? You think women get raped only in buses? What will you do for the fathers who say “why can’t I taste the fruit of my own tree?” and rape their daughters? There’s a TV campaign from KADEM Turkey which says “Real men don’t hit women, be a real man!” How wrong it is to believe violence will end by the help of the “real men”! This definition itself is masculine; it’s a part of patriarchy. There’s also this video from India that got viral in Turkey. A young girl is walking by herself in the street and two men corner her. She gets scared and she cannot do anything. All of a sudden, other men arrive and they form a circle around her and the harassers escape. A women, is saved from a man, by another man.  Isn’t it enough that you’ve pumped up your egos by saving princesses? Of course, this entire paragraph was for those men who do not comprehend the feminist ideology, those who define “manhood” upon power and those who are macho and possessive. They’re called “benevolent sexists” in literature. They do not commit sexual harassment or rape; yet they do not help to solve the issue either. They’ve already left reading this paragraph in the middle so let’s continue with those who are still here.

When we see the violence against women, rape and femicide as an individual man’s issue, when we label those men as “sick” or “psycho” we refuse to accept the sociological and cultural dimension of this problem. This problem can only be solved by the change in the collective perception of both men and women. This problem can only be solved by understanding what patriarchy is and accepting feminist ideology in order to fight against it.

I’ve defined feminism so many times before. Let me do it again: feminism is defining, building and defending equal political, economic and social rights for both genders. I do not understand those men who don’t see themselves as a part of this fight and those women who don’t want men to be a part of this fight, as this fight would enable equal rights and treatment for both genders, and it’s beneficial for both genders. Of course there are those men who hijack feminist protests and try to manipulate the feminist ideology by turning this fight into a men’s fight with their masculine and possessive behaviour. Let’s ignore those. How much of a feminist a man can be? This is debatable as well, yet I’d like to explain why men should be feminists.

We have to elaborate the definition of the primary seed of patriarchy: misogyny. Because misogyny is not only hatred or dislike of women, but it’s also humiliating and ignoring anything that is feminine and female. At this point, any adjective that is associated with femininity – emotional, passive, quiet, kind, self cautious, innocent, weak, nurturing, soft, obedient – gets humiliated and made fun of, no matter which gender performs these types of behaviours. In masculinity, which is loaded on any men’s shoulders by birth, there is no room for these types of behaviours. Boys cannot cry “like girls.” They cannot wear pink or play with dolls. Their emotions that are pertain to human, yet associated with femininity, are constantly oppressed. They are taught to protect their mothers, sisters, girl friends from a very early age. When you say “teach your sons to protect women” you have no idea how much of pressure you put on them under by teaching little children to take responsibility of someone else, other than themselves. The comfort that patriarchy provides to men is indisputable, yet this comfort comes with a price. Men have to prove and protect his masculinity at all times. Boys who show feminine behaviour at school constantly get bullied, beaten and excluded by their macho male friends. Adolescent boys who do not have facial hair get made fun of; boys who do not join their friends when they humiliate girls are asked “are you a f.ggot?” Sometimes they think the only way to protect their masculinity and prove that they are not feminine is violence.

Heterosexual men grow into a system where they have to be the one to earn money and provide economic comfort to their families. Their wives can work, but cannot earn more money than them; because this would cause them embarrassment in their social circle. They would question themselves: “Am I not man enough?” There is also this perception of men wanting to put their penises inside anything basically, just because they cannot control their sexual needs. Sexual needs are only associated with men. A man’s penis always has to be hard and ready in front of a woman. There are so many men whose sexual life is ruined because of this pressure and they face erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation problem. Men are also not allowed to take care of their children, children that they co-created with their partners. Because men who take care of their children at home are not seen at the same level with men who make money outside of home. Men are deprived from their own children’s care. From nurturing, communicating, forming an emotional bond and many more. Patriarchal system does not imprison only women and LGBTI, it imprisons heterosexual men as well.

Let those men who refuse to see this imprisonment walk as privileged penises in their fake comfort world. When we change the definition of power, the power they think they have, will not be provided by maleness anymore. And by the way, I have no intention of putting men into the position of victims. I would not dare to compare what patriarchy has taken away from men to what it has taken away from women. As patriarchy takes the primary right, the right to live away from women, men do not have this problem. I would not want to blur anyone’s resistance, yet I don’t understand why fighting for gender equaliy, a problem of both genders, is still the responsibility of women only.

The feminist resistance in Turkey following the murder of Özgecan

17/02/2015

TRIGGER WARNING: This article contain information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors

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On February 11th, Özgecan Aslan, a 20 year old student in Mersin, Turkey, was taking the bus home from school. She was the only one left on the bus when the driver took a different path. She got scared and started arguing with him. He stopped the bus in a deserted area, and when he attempted to rape her, she resisted and sprayed pepper spray in his eyes. (In Turkey it’s the number one purse item for women.) He got mad and took his knife and started stabbing her. She scratched his face trying to resist. Finally he used a crowbar to hit her until she died. He took her dead body to his father and his friend. The three men took her to the woods, cut her hands off so that his DNA would not be found under her fingernails burned her body to destroy the evidence and left her there. I’m nauseous from anger.

I’ve grown a new habit of cracking my knuckles when I get angry. My fingers struggle to type. I’ve been a feminist for 29 years, and a feminist activist for one. And people who laugh in my face when I say I’m a feminist are mourning for Özgecan today. I want to spit in their faces.

48 days of 2015 are past us. In these 48 days in Turkey, including Özgecan, 37 women have been murdered by male violence. Nobody knows their names. Nobody protested their murders. For none of them has social media been “shaken” with worldwide trending topics. I’ve lost my voice from screaming about the femicide in Turkey and those who have questioned my screams with “don’t you think the wording women massacre is a little strong?” are now shedding crocodile tears for Özgecan.

Men and women who are embarrassed to call themselves feminists, hypocrites who play house with society’s gender roles, talk about Özgecan today. I want to puke. When they have done nothing up until today for all of the other women who have been victims, now they rub their show of sensitivity in  our faces. How is Özgecan different from the 13 year old girl sold for a “bride price” who gets raped by her 50 year old “owner” every night? Who knows that girl’s name? Who talks about her? Nobody. Because that girl is not an educated member of the middle class. Those who take offence at imagining themselves in that girl’s shoes have no problem with empathizing with Özgecan though. Even corpses have class in this system. And murders are categorized by the level of attention they receive. The more savage, the more horrific, the more attention the violence gets. It’s not enough to be raped and murdered, your body needs to be cut in pieces and burned on top of that to get enough attention for people to actually talk about you.

When Özgecan’s murder was first revealed, the news was shared on the third page, yet once the social media attention increased, they pulled it to the headlines. Not because they cared about Özgecan, but for the “clicks” it would bring to their sites as a hot topic. The last time a femicide was featured on the front page of a mainstream newspaper in Turkey was when the chief editor of Habertürk, Fatih Altaylı, published the photo of Şefika Erik, naked and dead, with the knife that her husband stabbed her with in her back. It was published as murder porn. Come on, let’s be realistic, everybody condemns femicide in Turkey, but nobody really gives a damn about it. Our sensitivity just moves along the current of the daily news, whatever is the hot – or horrific – topic. I saw the photo of Özgecan shared on Twitter when she was missing. Somebody shared it and said they were looking for her. One scumbag commented to say “Why are you making a big fuss about it? It’s been only a day, she probably just hasn’t woken up yet.” In other words: “She’s sleeping in the arms of some man, relax.” The man who commented on the news of the women who has been raped by her husband by saying “But it can’t be rape if it’s her husband” now says he’s in solidarity with Özgecan. The man who said “But you’re only talking about it to get attention” when I talk about street harassment now says he’s crying for Özgecan. The man who asked “What, so you’re going to invent a new language?” when I said I was uncomfortable with swear words that imply sexual violence now says “Stop femicide!” Excuse me, but how are we going to stop femicide? Without changing the collective perception of the society, the norms and the de facto acceptances, do you think we’ll say “Ok everyone we’re stopping femicide” and poof, femicide will magically disappear? Without understanding the correlation between the man who says “f.ck you” and the man who physically f.cks you without your consent, how are we going to solve this problem?

I had a big breakdown 3 weeks ago. In between e-mails coming from different women asking for help and the stories of harassment, rape, violence, murder, the question “But what can I do on my own?” echoed in my head and I couldn’t swallow my sobs. The articles that I started writing and could not finish, the women I wanted to help but couldn’t collapsed on top of me. I wanted to buy a rifle and form an armed patrol unit. One task force that hunts down those who commit street harassment, another one for those who beat women, another one to track rapists and one more for those who kill women. You might think I’ve gone insane, but I’ve come to the point where I think that insanity itself was invented by patriarchy.

So if you’re the sane ones then I have to ask you, you think we should wait for government –  which is men from head to toe – to free women? Especially in Turkey… You think a president who defines gender equality based on creation (using an Islamic term I won’t use here) and says that men and women are not equal will help stop femicide? Maybe you don’t know, but in Turkey there is no ministry for women. Women issues are dealt with under the “Family and Social Politics Ministry.” And the head of this ministry that defines existence of women only within the family, Ayşenur İslam, says “It’s unnecessary to make a fuss about femicide in Turkey, it happens everywhere.” Will this “woman” minister who refuses to meet with women associations solve the problem? Will this government who pays for each child born, as if women are breeding animals, solve the problem?

The government who turns sacred mothers into house workers? Really? You think lawyers will solve this problem? The lawyers who claim that if the government makes monthly payments to single men so that they can have sex with sex workers they will stop raping women? This is the reality of Turkey.  And now people are saying they want death penalty back in Turkey. As if they don’t know that in countries run by Islamic regime, women who have been raped are seen as a part of the crime and are murdered by execution as well. Let the death penalty arrive and you will see how the sultan of Turkey will implement it.

It hurts to think about it. Özgecan resisting the bus driver Suphi Atındöken as he tried to rape her. Spraying pepper spray, scratching his cheeks. How could he have enough knowledge to remove the DNA evidence from under his fingernails; yet no acknowledgement of a woman’s right to not be touched against her will? Of course there should be deterrent punishments, yet who will give these men deterrent consciousness? The Daddy state? Schools? Or collective perception of society?

You will give them this consciousness. We will give it to them. A society that has adopted feminist ideology will give it. A community that fights for women’s rights will give it. The people who should have reacted against the man who kicked a young woman on the bus the other day in İstanbul just because she was crossing her legs will give this consciousness. The street will give it. Continuous protest will give it. The We Will Stop Femicide Platform will give it. The support and donations we give to this platform will give it. The people who have the courage to react to the men who catcall women on the street will give it. The people who do not define people according to whether they have a vagina or a penis will give it. The men who can be “like a girl” and the women who can be “like a boy” by saying that what matters is being “like a human” will give this consciousness to our society. Özgecan’s slaughter is no different from any other woman’s slaughter. We cannot complete this fight without showing equal support to every woman who has been murdered, raped, harassed, belittled or left behind just for being a woman. This is not the fight of women but it’s the fight of the whole society. My heart goes out to the women who were and will be on the streets in Turkey, yesterday, today and tomorrow. This will be the new turning point of our resistance. I invite all the women of Turkey to talk about the harassment they have faced, the sexist moments they had to fight. They’ve already started with the #sendeanlat (you tell too) hashtag but the sharing shouldn’t stop here.. I invite all the men in Turkey to say “I’m a feminist” without being embarrassed. If you really are in solidarity with Özgecan, it’s time to finally take real action!

(Special thanks to Abby Comstock-Gay who helped to edit this article. She’s a woman from the US living in Turkey and she contacted me saying that she wanted to translate my article. I had already translated it by then, so she helped me with the editing. This is what being in solidarity is like!)

(This article was published in Turkish in T24 and in Greek in fylosykis.gr)