Are you really aware of the question you ask? How many men can say “yes I imposed violence on a woman”? Even they say it, we are a society full of “but”s.
Especially considering this sentence: “Recording opinions, thoughts and especially experiences of men who achieved important works in their fields on male violence and masculinity”, let us underline the “experiences”..
Most will content themselves with what they see. We as society have been made content with what we see. The violence, morality and respect themselves have taught us to be content with what is shown to us.
There is more than one way to express yourself. Some express themselves better with beautiful words, some others do that by writing. Some slap, some take a jab, some love by beating, some hit by respecting. Violence is not only physical beating.
Is a person’s understanding based on age, experience or work? How far can we go by pushing aside cultural difference, traditional morality and family ties…
Everyone leaps up when it is a woman who is battered but what would you do if it were a man? Once, I had witnessed a man being beaten by his wife in a tavern. Everyone remained silent, including me. Then is my motive based on women being in need of protection. So, what about my past examples, human rights, women’s rights, left, politics, my mother, my grandmother…Can I be objective?
It was the middle of 80s…We used to go to a coffee shop with friends in Beyoğlu. It was a comfortable and not a popular place. I think it had a signboard reading something like bird lovers’ association.
But no one talked about birds there but sometimes cars. Something like “this person has x car, that person has y car…” I remember clearly; someone had asked “how’s it going” and people had laughed when they heard the response “the engine is broken, it’s lying..”, I could never understand what they laughed at. The engine was broken and it was lying..What’s the problem…
One day, they were waiting for the fourth person to start a new game. They asked me to join until their friends came. I accepted it with pleasure since it was a game I knew. Then I got up from the table when their friend came. A friend of mine seeing this scene got very angry with me. “How dare you play with them”, he scolded me. I didn’t get it…I asked why, he first remained silent, then looked into my face and said, “don’t you know that one owns a taxi and the other owns a public bus”. I was totally lost, I didn’t understand what was wrong with it. What difference would it make. Then I said what passed through: “So what!” I remained silent when he said something like “don’t be ridiculous”. There was no meaning to discuss further. Later, much later I learned why I was being “ridiculous”.
Hear this out, “owning a public bus” means “he has a friend in brothel in Karaköy”, and taxi means “friend of call girl”. Years later, when this incident passed my mind again, I remembered patriarchic discourse again. Isn’t even talking of it a sort of violence and inequality?
When I thought retrospectively of my childhood and youth, my political memories came to my mind. I thought of my mother. I witnessed many times being beaten by my father. I also remember my sound of mother crying coming through the doorway. I don’t remember other people as I listened through the doorway, maybe there was no one but my mother was talking aloud and made herself understood even if there was no one. I never forget the line that followed such talks: “I would leave if it weren’t for my kids…” I grew up with such a burden. I was overwhelmed by it, my mom suffered a lot. When I stood against this violence, it was just oo late. I was 17. I was roaring like a bull that goes raving mad: “If you hit my mother again, I’ll beat your mom!”..I was giving myself some promises accompanied with swearings. I don’t remember who heard but it didn’t matter…My father didn’t need to hear either. My voice tinkling in my ears was enough for me.
One day, I again found my mother crying. She didn’t want to me to hear but I had already understood. My mother was beaten again, furthermore, the reason was me. And I fulfilled my promise: I walked up to my grandmother, mother of my father, I threw a couple of punches. First or second might have hit. What I saw days later was the black-and-blue of where I hit. This bruise haunted me for years. I was embarrassed, sad, devastated. I secretly cried a lot. My decision was final and I left home. I started to stay with my friends. End of my mother’s sufferings became start of mine because my father never attempted such a thing. One day when I realized that hitting my grandmother was not a solution, I had come home and shouted through the door: “If you hit my mother again, I’ll shoot you!” This threat wouldn’t scare my father, maybe he didn’t even hear it but this was important to me. It tinkled around the house..
Private life; is it a space conserved by only walls, doors, windows and curtains? Is family a shield? Can’t their problems concern anyone? Does it gain right to possess all sorts of negativities when it wears this immunity shield?
What I understand is this: Always women are subjected to violence in privacy of the private life..It’s always them who suffer.
Name of a book came to my mind whilst I was writing these lines: “Destiny of Talented Women in Shadow of Famous Men”. This magnificent book penned by Inge Stephan includes real examples from the world. The expression “pillar of house” points to women. If a family is broken up, it is definitely broken up by the woman. If happiness is gone, then it’s her fault. A woman who accepts remaining in the man’s shadow, she also agrees with sheltering in sovereignty of the man. What is told here includes violence though not a physical form of it…
Powerful is always sovereign. When masculinity is added to this power, then disaster begins…How? It’s exactly as Oscar Wilde says: “There are two disasters in this world. One is a person not having what he wants, the other is having what he wants. The second is much worse; that is the real disaster!” It doesn’t change at home, school, military, life. When people list examples of power, fearlessness and masculine stance, they show Erdoğan, Putin, Trump and Macron as examples. But are these this strong because they are men or in power? For instance, what do we say for Angela Merkel or Çiller, or Margaret Thatcher? Saying power is man is enough. But it’s everywhere. The second one that Wilde talks about is both men and masculinity.
The life itself is also politics. Like the never-changing truths, woman does not change in every sense and area, either. “And our women” says Nazım Hikmet, “the ones whose place at dinner table comes after our ox…” Let’s ignore why or to whom he said it… But, this destiny is also the case within the left. Once upon a time, in 1976, during my high-school years, I was a responsible party at school. Politically, of course… One day, I was informed that one of our friends fell in love with a girlfriend of ours and they were together. I immediately put everything aside and took them to the sports hall for a talk. I said, “Let me have it, what is happening?” I still clearly remember how the girl looked me in the eye and said rather apologetically, “We love each other.” Then, the boy made a defense but to no avail… My decision was definite and clear… “You can never live something like this” and so on and on… Some may know, things were like that back then. When the girl insisted, I pushed her, the friends accompanying me took me away. And that love ended on that very spot…
After some time, it became such a big lesson for me that I felt ashamed of the girl wherever I saw her. I was somebody who was open to developments, I had a side that read and did research. I fixed myself in a short time, I persuaded myself that I quickly reached the level of a flexible, democratic and modern responsible party. A year later, I lived something similar in a different way. One of our girlfriends came to me and said that she wanted to talk to me about something important. I gladly accepted. We went off to a corner and started talking. After a short introduction, she said that somebody would come to ask her family for her hand in marriage. Having learnt a lesson from the previous incident, I asked her, “Do you want it?”. Without making an eye contact, I said, “You can get married if you want.” If someone came to me to say “Somebody wants to marry me”, then, it would mean permission. Thinking that she was asking for my permission and in order to hide my past vulgar behavior and to behave in a modern way, I said, “Do you want it?”. After a silence, she continued speaking with her head down: “You don’t understand, do you? You will never understand, will you?”. And she just made the summary of the day: She said, “I love you.” Believe me, without thinking, I explained that “such a thing could never happen” by telling her, “What, I don’t understand, what do you say, you…”
Both the meeting and the love of the girl ended on that very spot. As for me, I just talked and talked about how I did the right thing. I bedecked my narrative about the rightness of my behavior towards my friend back then with this example. I explained it with this example, I was proud of myself. The point that I reached, the ways in which I improved myself, more effort is needed, reading is not enough, it is a question of mentality and culture. I understood that after a very long time.
When somebody hits you, you hit back. When somebody swears at you, you swear back. When somebody inflicts violence on you, you do the same. What do you do when somebody tells you, “I love you”?
My tongue was tied; it was tied to the burden upon me.
When someone talks about criticism, we always choose the easy way and say self-criticism. When they talk about violence, we mention peace and quiet. In fact, we have not yet comprehended how great a violence it is for a father to tell his child, “You, stop talking, you wouldn’t understand.” Moreover, we do not consider claims such as “Don’t meddle in this with your woman’s mind” or “You are a woman, you need to know where to keep silent” as violence. If we test the left, which is always sensitive, knowledgeable, advisory and highly cultured when it comes to the issue of woman, they fail the class for three years in a row. In general terms, Marxist left’s attitude towards women is extremely problematic and the problem has been left to socialism. But, until socialism, how will we approach it? Of course, everyone will show what they have learnt from their families. That is why, if there is a high-ranking woman friend in the history of the left, there is a comrade, her husband above her.
The history of the left starts with the aunt-in-law Krupskaya and, though it is wrong information, this history continues with Tanya and goes ahead with the one who is local and national. Unfortunately, we are right in the middle of the circle as well. Rubbinntain says, “You are either in the middle of Love, at its center or outside it, at its longing.” We are right inside this spiral.
And it is such a fertile geography that while the attitude of the Muslims towards women is so much tied to the story that “woman was created from the rib of man” and it is not enough for them to perform the five-time prayer, give alms and fast, it is still said that “if a woman performs the five-time prayer, fasts for a month, defends her honor and obeys her husband, she enters heaven from the door she wishes.” One of the religious services is cited as “defending her honor and obeying her husband.”
That being the case, it must not have been so difficult to go beyond the traditional morals in a society that grows up with the idiom, “Buy the field which is plain, take the woman who is a virgin.” Otherwise, wouldn’t our difference remain a supposed one if we sigh by saying “the ones whose place at dinner table comes after our ox” and if we tell women the things that we cannot say while looking them in the eye by trying to sing out loud the song in chorus, “My room is painted with lime, my face is full of smile, take off your clothes and come to bed with me, my skin is remedy?”.
Growing up in a geography, where folk songs, songs and folk poems are so sinful, and living with a repressed sexuality do not make any difference depending on whether you are politically or professionally competent. Woman is sinful in all religions, all books and whole political terminology. She breaks up families. She makes sheep’s eyes. That you and I are different does not suffice to change it because in all societies past and present, where the domination belongs to men, men have played the leading role in art and literature just as as in all other occupational groups. Woman has just become an instrument nourishing all these fields. As Bilge Karasu says in his work entitled, “Ode to Pomegranate and Fig,” she often becomes a useful instrument to find sexual pleasure. “The official legend of fig relating to the female, its secret literature regarding manhood have spread to all parts of the Mediterranean and become a blameworthy word. When I asked him a question about the fig, even the fruit seller from Erzurum insistently told the price of the ‘fruit’…”
Woman is often trapped by an innocence surrounded with walls by the male dominant. When the Eve ate the forbidden fruit and seduced Adam to do the same, innocence became polluted. What has been happening in the world is actually what has followed this pollution. In a world which was polluted by the woman, innocence and honor are naturally supposed to be protected by the male dominant. Since the blood of the two brothers were spilled, honor is restored with blood; man supposedly protects the woman. Didn’t the fact that Helena left Menelaos from Akha and escaped from Troia become a matter of honor and lead to one of the bloodiest wars in history? Woman is beaten for honor, she is killed for honor.
Look in the mirror… Do you miss your father…
Look in the mirror… It is what is taught, it is in your hands to change it. Start with your tongue. Your conscience that you have accumulated is what directs both your hand and your tongue... It is your morals… (ÖS/ŞA/APA/TK/SD)
Images: Kemal Gökhan Gürse
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