Society, Politics, and Economy in Modern Turkey: Sociology of Turkey - Maintained by Tugrul Keskin
We are at a point in our work when we can no longer ignore empires and the imperial context in our studies. (p. 5)
― Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

No laughing matter: Women and the new populism in Turkey

Deniz Kandiyoti

Open Democracy - 1 September 2014

Stirring up moral anxieties over women's conduct and propriety is key to a populist discourse that pits a virtuous “us”- the people- against an immoral “them”. But despite its potential for authoritarian control of gender relations, this new populism holds many attractions for women.
When Turkey's deputy PM,  Bülent Arinc, declared during a public address marking the Bayram festivities at the end of Ramadan  that women should refrain from laughing in public and must remain chaste (iffetli) at all times he created a furore in both the local and international media. Some women protested by posting  pictures of themselves laughing out loud, using a combination of ridicule and non-compliance as a form of resistance. The deputy PM proceeded to compound matters when he added , in reaction to the media storm he stirred up, that those he deplored were “women who go on holiday without their husbands” and  those “who cannot resist climbing a pole when they see one”. This oblique reference to pole dancing, a decidedly marginal phenomenon in Turkey, must have proved irresistible in terms of its potential for sexual innuendo and the opportunity to project immorality and dissolute living onto certain sections of the citizenry.


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