30/11/2013

"Some people still thinking about past, but that’s not important anymore"

Contarary to leftist criticism of Femmen in Europe, they received a relatively good reception amongst anti-government Turks. 
Past simple, continuous, future, relative clauses, these are the grammar points I have come to know as old friends having been a teacher in Turkey for almost five years. Now that I'm teaching at a university as oppose to shouting at younger children dancing around the classroom, I have the chance to get a bit more philosophical with these concepts. On a good day, you can get a glimpse of the changing perceptions of young people growing up in a rapidly changing Turkey. I am constantly amazed by the maturing thoughts of this generation. On a bad day you just get a rough translation of a 20th century mantra learnt through the aged and decrepid high school text books, and go back to the text. It all has it's place of course, and I don't begrudge anyone for being more interested in the Galatasaray game than wanting to ruminate on cultural discourse in a language they are only in the rudimentary stages of being able to express themselves in. That, and I'm too long in the tooth to sit there in front of a class pontificating about the importance of this and that. It's a big turn off, and not everyone is receptive to being pressurised to think on the spot in a classroom environment.

However, the school testing department did something quite genious the other day. In the midst of the fill-in-the-blanks and circle-the-right-answer parts, they posed a question demanding a small paragraph from the students. Worth a total of 3 points out of a hundred so the students, I suppose, could take it or leave it. The question was beautiful in its simplicity: "Do you think women and men are equal in your country".

I jotted down some of the most interesting answers to investigate later, but I decided that it would be better if they just speak for themselves, for when correctly ordered back-to-back they form a very interesting dialogue. I have grouped them according to subject. Feel free, amateur sociologists, to rip them apart in a qualitative study of Turkish students.

The Republican boogie man

"Some people still thinking about past, but that’s not important anymore"

"Old-fashioned guys think ladies are second class person"

"Many years ago men and women weren’t equal in my country. But in Rupublic of Turkey men and women are approximately equal because they have a lot of laws for women for example they can choose their government, maybe they can be president so I think they can be equal"



These answers show the success to which the legitimacy of the founding of the Republic has been sought in its giving women equal rights with men. Many were satisfied that this was enough. 

The counter critique

"We don’t have important political women"

"Women can’t go outside whenever they want, can’t wear what they want"

"Men is more strong than women"

"We arn’t equal because social norms are show men first class people.. In the past men maked war and they died for their countries. That means men are valuable than women"

"In the rural villages women arn’t work because husbands don’t want this"

"The women took political law with Atatürk and Republics, but in my country a woman can’t live as man... because my country and my traditional relax for man"

Whether consciously or unconsciously (in the example of the third one), many students recognised that nominal equality through the law, was not enough in itself.

Blurred-lines

"For example, women has to clean everywhere or she has to cook everyday, the women are taking care of child alone but mens has only got job"

"I think men and women are equal in my country because in my country women don’t have to work or collect money just money just take care of children, clean the house, like basic things, they can continue education but the don’t have to found work"

I laughed at these two once put together. We see both arguements turned on their head: Do the women have it easy because they don't have to work, or do the men have the best deal as they don't have to bring up the children? This was the most interesting debate as, while it posits that equality is not based on a mutual sharing of every task equally, the argument falls down to which of those tasks is easier!

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