“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” Louisa May Alcott, Little Women (1868)
Who knows better about being a woman? Men or women? Who knows better about being stupid? I know, I know, the answer is obvious, even most men would agree, that is, men who think. But thinking has nothing to do with stupidity. Don’t think so? Examine the world. I mean, even George W. Bush “thought.” His problem was that he didn’t “know.” And that problem, present in so many political leaders, continues to destroy our beautiful world.
There are places on this rapidly disappearing planet—Turkey is one of them—where men, particularly political men, think they are indeed experts on women. They “think” they “know.” And they are not shy about sharing their opinions. They think they have the right. Why? Their party head selected them to sit in parliament. Such is Turkey’s so-called democracy. The men in Turkey’s fascist ruling party (AKP) are especially skilled in matters feminine. Naturally, they feel compelled to regularly inform the public of their wisdom on this complicated subject. The party’s head and the nation’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is the main mouthpiece for enlightening Turkish women. He has not been successful in this endeavor but he still thinks he has the right. Accordingly, he has courageously and continuously thrust himself into this important role. He is not shy either.
One day last year, thinking he had the perfect audience for another verbal release about womanhood, he issued a proclamation at a women’s organizational conference. Women can in no way be equal to men, he loudly explained. He supported his assertion by cleverly adding “Women are women and men are men.” This did not exactly thrill the Turkish ladies. The prime minister’s womanly wife was present. She stood by her man’s remarks. If she had not, she would no longer be standing there or anywhere. This is an example of a woman not “knowing.” And there are many of them in the ruling party. What don’t they know?
This. They don't know that their headscarves, so important to the political movement to destroy secularism in Turkey, were imposed upon dependent women by ambitious men, and a few ambitious women. In other words, they are tools and deceivers. And I am not talking about the Anatolian cultural practice of women wearing headscarves for propriety and protection from the harsh elements. I am talking about the usurpation of that manner of historic dress to spawn a readily identifiable army of covered women that act as highly visible symbols of their men’s treasonous activities.
Used for a decade as a Trojan horse, the women’s headscarves became the AKP’s battle flags. And many lies were told; the Koran nowhere requires women to cover their heads. (See: http://www.brighteningglance.org/headscarves-turbans-the-ocular-proof-5-february-2008.html) And slow, insidious violations of the law ensued. And in this manner Turkish society became deeply divided. All women who wore headscarves were pious believers; all who did not were infidels. And so it remains. Yesterday, the prime minister decreed that Allah had commanded that women wear headscarves. Where he got this news remains a mystery. Does he (and George Bush) talk to the same guy? Is this the Allah that also told Erdoğan when he was mayor of Istanbul to say that it was against human nature for women to enter the inner circles of political power? Sounds like somebody was nervous about political women.
And what about abortion and Caesarean section birth deliveries? We know Erdoğan’s negative opinion What’s Allah’s position? How about cosmetics? How about cleavage? How about bigamy? Some of the friskier AKP parliamentarians have multiple wives. Do Allah and the prime minister agree on that? If so, George Bush’s Allah—excuse me—God is against it. It’s one thing to be concerned when physicians disagree. But God and Allah should work it out before Erdoğan proclaims something to the world. For example, why should Allah not like wine? Last year Erdoğan told the World Health Organization that people should eat grapes rather than drink wine. Did Allah tell him that? I would be surprise if Bush’s God would agree. I mean, the entire Christian ritual is based on wine. We expect more from our God who confuses us with different names and asks us to believe there is only one. And that "one" is a “he.” So when the head of a government of a predominantly Muslim nation and the head of a government of a predominantly Christian nation talk to their mutual Allah/God, maybe they should keep quiet about it. Their proclamations make Allah/God sound stupid. And that’s not nice. And that’s why religion and politics are best kept apart, like fine cheese and rats.
It’s not only men who don’t know. Yesterday, four AKP women parliamentarians demonstrated their “not-knowing. They wore headscarves to a parliamentary session. They proclaimed their freedom to do so. This was considered a big deal by the women and their male political handlers who were busy snapping pictures of the so-called historic event. The opposition parties engaged in their usual collaboration with the fascist rulers. It was considered a grand triumph! But everything seemed upside down. The fascists celebrated the visible intrusion of religious headscarves in a secular governing body where very little secularism remains. The toothless opposition parties settled into their plush red chairs forgetting that in realty there’s a fight to the death happening in their country. Unfortunately for many, the opposition does not go to the war anymore. Or perhaps that is fortunate; it's a young person's world now.
But again, just what were these four covered women so triumphant about? Over eighty years ago Mustafa Kemal Atatůrk had given women like them their freedom from centuries of Ottoman religious bondage. Centuries! And suddenly women could vote. They could hold political office. They could share equally in the family estate whatever it might be. Women were elevated from cowering and bowing and at last stood up straight, facing the world, not hiding from it. They were freed from their lattice-windowed prison. They too could become literate, go to universities, fly airplanes. No longer would they peer from their personal darkness through the slats. They had entered a new world, free and clear. No more stinking veils and sweltering cover-ups. They were free and their hair blew freely in the revolutionary Kemalian winds.
So what were these four really celebrating? They said they were celebrating the “new” freedom of the Turkish Islamic woman. But it seems like post-modern bondage to me. So happy were these four to bring the Saudi Arabian look to the Turkish parliament. Except in Saudi Arabia these four would get nowhere near a parliament and nowhere near an automobile. How clever it is, this AKP using women this way. Convincing them that their freedom to wear headscarves and cover their bodies in shapeless sacks is somehow liberating and following Allah’s wishes.
The terms of their new freedom are really worth thinking about. They are free to agree with and follow every word of Erdoğan. Why not? Allah speaks to him. These four can also continue implementing the baby-manufacturing doctrine, as revealed to the prime minister presumably by Allah. So line up and start have those babies. It’s called leadership by example, ladies. After all, they have been freed from having any responsibility for their own bodies, external (clothing) and internal (womb and related sexual organs). Tayyip will tell you what to do. They are free to abstain from shaking the hands of men who are not their husband. They are free to abandon secular clothes. Instead they will be encased in uncomfortable, frumpy clothing, wrapped head-to-toe, free from the rapacious gaze of men. That’s what Allah, according to Erdoğan, wants. And they are free to enhance their double-faced game by secretly wearing stiletto heels under their long boring skirts (with platform soles as an additional booster) to become, temporarily, 25 centimeters taller. They can become like “real” AKP women, encased and tightly wrapped. But the well-hidden stilettos, that’s a new trick for the four covered parliamentarians. An occasional flash of ankle is inadvertent but always appreciated. Thus they are free to remain what they have been, still enslaved by a misrepresented, worn-out creed and its men. And their womanly pretense continues…
“Let us be elegant or die!”—Amy Louisa May Alcott, Little Women (1868)
"Ya istiklâl ya ölüm" (“Either independence or death”) Mustafa Kemal Atatürk