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I would like to emphasize why it is very important to start talking by questioning “Manhood and violence generated by men” and how it scares me. Yes, some subjects accompanying me contemplating on it as a man signals that this article series is even more important than I think. In fact, even writing a piece about this matter necessitates me to say things beyond condemning femicides, and to seek what I’ve been running from. I think, trying to talk about masculinity requires the courage to deal with getting naked. Even though tt is going to be a bit like most of us saying “At the end of the day, I am a man living in this society”, it is a beginning after all.
What is my responsibility in a social web in which all sorts of systematic violence and harassment imposed on women? How significant is it that I am not a direct subject of it?
Venomous looks of imam
I started primary school in village of Sinci, Karaman in 1965. I was 7 years old when I found myself in an order of one class, one teacher. When we all stood in front of flagpole with our white collars, black apron, wool socks as boys and girls with white ribbons, we would never move after İrfan teacher’s attention command. When the weekend holiday begins after Saturday afternoon, we would run to toys we produced in the nook place behind stable of Sarılar’s Halil. We were going to hodja on Sundays. The children who knew to read the whole Koran were praised in the village. One day, imam of the village appeared behind the stable where we were playing. He directly headed towards (his daughter?) Asiye and lifted her from her arm and hurled her forward. “You will not play with men or leave the house”, he shouted. Only the weathered wheel, which she tried to make of head of sunflower, was left. I was very scared and felt myself guilty. Ahmet looked very pleased with how his father treated his sister. “I’d told her”, he said. Thanks to the wisest hodja of the village, I’d learned that girls cannot play with boys. I never forgot the venomous looks of the imam.
Years passed and we moved to the city. Now I was a student at Gazi Mustafa Kemal Primary School. I could see my friends from the village only during summer times. I was missing them; especially Ayşegül, whom I kept fighting with. My main way of communication with her was hit-and-run. Of course, I never told this to anybody.
In the following years, I heard that Zeliha and Hüseyin got married. Hüseyin was a weak, silent boy. I don’t remember Zeliha’s youth days.
Headlines: Honor Killings
The horrible news of murder spread fast in the village: Hüseyin murdered his wife. My dad had brought all the newspapers that covered the incident. The headlines were: “Honor Killing”.
This shocking incident was spoken for days. People said that family of Zeliha didn’t want her body. I was there when people gathered in front of the courthose for the first hearing. Hüseyin was brought to court in handcuffs by gendarmerie. The gendarmerie was scanning around seriously for accompanying a significant figure. The weak, fragile Hüseyin has changed, it was like he was not the one who committed the murder, killed a person. It was like he became a “man” for the second time after the circumcision. Our people are very sensitive, they sent him to the courtroom with applauds. The hero who restored his honor received a very small penalty due to grievous provocation and he was released. I’d grasped the concept of honor better with the killing of my childhood friend. Gendarmerie, court, judge, people, state, justice are all in this murder. The result is; victim Hüseyin, whore Zeliha and millions of Hüseyin are now guardians of honor.
In the high school years, I’d already started to prove myself as a typical leftist man who was shaped by both influence of the political climate and social fabric. I’d dived into the matters like communal society, primitive society, feudalism, capitalism…I was never missing the seminars at the community houses to learn about socialism. I’d gotten down to being a socialist and revolutionist by meeting with Marx’s ideas. Because it was a period in which the slogans “Revolution martyrs are immortal” were filling our ears. I’d believed in the revolution so much…We read the history of March 8 World Laborer Women’s Day with our “sisters”. Even though we continued to enjoy Sema’s infinite services with my father and brother, I’d realized that men and women should be equal. Even though I wasn’t seeing what their husbands and brothers do to them, I’d learned about the injustices that laborer women faced. I was believing that all these problems would be solved with socialism after the revolution, but then the September 12 coup occurred. And after that, the Soviet Union collapsed.
I avoid saying “Like a man”
After being released from prison, I started to work as a teacher again in the year 1984 in İstanbul. It must be due to the effect of Spring Demonstrations in 1989 that I found myself in struggle. I began to actively partake in the activities of, first, the Association of Retired Educators (Eğit-Der) and, then, the Union of Educators (Eğit-Sen).
I understood that the females should be called women, that the women who are not workers also have their problems and that the March 8 Women’s Day has a central importance for the struggle of women thanks to the awareness created by the feminist activists in the union.
Even today, (even if it escapes from my lips involuntarily) I pay attention to my words and avoid saying “Like a man”. Even though I try to summarize the situation in this way, the reality of life is, of course, not like that. When engaging in small talk with my male friends, I continue uttering all types of swear words and having sexually explicit conversations.
It is the success of the struggle waged by women that not only positive discrimination and quota practices, but also new institutional arrangements such as co-chairpersonship and co-spokespersonship have to be introduced so that women can be elected to the administrative positions at democratic mass organizations and civil organizations.
Although I view it as a positive development that there is a will to achieve gender equality, albeit relatively, I think I have learned that the point in question is not that simple.
I am a person who has frequently experienced in his personal life that the issue of conservatism does not solely belong to the groups with a traditional culture, but it also applies to the ones who express that they are egalitarian, libertarian human rights defenders that are against discrimination.
I have started to think that doing politics by ideationally depreciating the subjects such as gender, gender difference, oppression, violence and domination and excluding them from political subjects reproduce the system over and over again.
Patriarchy and capitalism
For that reason, I have reached the conclusion that it is also a problem of men who do not engage or intervene in incidents that seem to be exceptions as acts of struggle against capitalism and cultural fascism it produces.
It would be easier for us men if gender inequality and pressure were not handled as separate or exceptional cases and if pressure and inequality were dealt with as state of affairs arising in interpersonal relations.
However, on the contrary, what has been happening is on such a scale that it affects the whole society and cannot be explained by remaining on the personal level. It is reproduced in the essence of the system. If I start to perceive what type of relation exists between patriarchy and capitalism, then I can make a clean copy of my consciousness as a man, even in this chaos.
I think that the struggle of women is the one with the highest quality among the organization of public laborers. I have this thought despite several negativities.
The unions which defend the rights of labor, nature, humans, LGBTI individuals and come out against war and militarism in social struggles and the organizations which engage in a struggle for democracy compete against the problems created by the system.
However, when it comes to what the women in their own organizations experience or what incidents they face, the inconsistency of us men in organization manifests itself like iodine.
They invent a number of excuses to cover the mobbing practices and harassment cases within their organizations, to deal with these incidents among themselves and, most of the time, to whitewash harassment on the ground that their organization will be exposed.
In fact, the point is very simple. If a woman employee alleges that she has been subjected to harassment, what needs to be done is to enforce intra-organizational law based on the statement of the woman. Another thing that has to be done in a democratic organization at the first stage is to take the precautions which will not affect the woman in the workplace.
However, it does not happen in this way, the intra-organizational power mobilizes, hinders the investigation and the high politics reveals its hidden male face in a number of ways including threats, blackmails and reorganization of the intra-organizational politics.
Witnessing how such an organization turns into a small “state apparatus” in the face of such incidents as harassment / mobbing that are experienced by people among its own ranks and seeing the frightening dimension of the subject is an important experience for me...
In the face of such an experience, I resigned from my post by taking an “honorable” attitude, as some people think, or I did it due to a “woman issue,” as some others believe. But the important question is that: What happened to the woman who was subjected to harassment / mobbing?
In a study that she has conducted on arrested rapists, Diana Scully has reached the conclusion that sexual violence is a widespread problem that takes its source from male-dominated culture.
In conclusion, we need to change ourselves so that sexual violence can come to an end. Yes, it is really “not a coincidence” that women do not kill men. Men kill women. (SE/ŞA/APA/TK/SD)
52 MEN 52 WEEKS
"This campaign has been produced as part of Sivil Düşün EU Programme, with the support of European Union. The contents of this campaign are the sole responsibility of IPS Communication Foundation/ bianet and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.
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