By Taha Akyol
I will start by asking a question: How should a woman act if she disagrees on any subject with her spouse?
Because our society does not have a common mindset on this matter, differences of opinion turn into quarrels, sharpen and even lead to divorce and violence sometimes. In Turkey, 43 percent of the population have answered this question as, “If a woman is not in agreement with her husband at any matter she should not argue; she should keep silent.”
I thought about what I do when I have a disagreement with my wife. Well, depending on the matter, sometimes I keep quiet; sometimes she does. It is always what my wife says regarding matters about home affairs, children and matters about women, as well as her personal preferences. She actually has more to say about what I am wearing than
I do. On politics and law matters, she generally asks my opinion.
Two Sides of The Problem
There are two sides of the problem: First, when we do not have the “same view,” generally, our culture of debate, reconciliation or shaking hands without any conciliation is not adequately developed.
Fighting politicians especially set a bad example in this respect. The second is that especially within the family, the woman is mostly expected “not to discuss the matter and keep quiet,” even in matters that are directly about herself.
This is about the male dominated culture. Our underdevelopment in debating, reconciliation and not fighting, even if there is no reconciliation, are seen in divorces also. The rate of our married women who are subject to domestic violence is 36 percent. However, the rate of our divorced women who are subject to violence is at 75 percent. As it can be seen, it does not come to an end with divorce; the divorced wife is more often exposed to violence.
Accordıng to the same report, among our men, “behaviors toward controlling women’s lives” are widespread. Behavioral tendencies such as blocking their wife’s social networks, their wife having to ask for permission to visit health institutions, not talking to other men, are not the majority, but are unfortunately still at rates that create problems.
Let’s go back to politics: Our family “debate” culture is not adequate, authoritarianism is in abundance... Well, how about politics? Because politics is a power struggle, there are more clashes and ambitions to dominate. Aren’t they the factors of the same authoritarian culture, “keeping under control” the behavior of women in the family and trying to keep Twitter, the media, shelving inner party democracy, profiling opponents under control? It is also wrong to say that issues concerning women stem from religion, without seeing this cultural problem lying at the essence of the issue. Even this accusation is an authoritarian attitude. The authoritarian and hierarchic culture that has covered many centuries in world history can influence both secularism and religion in the direction of authoritarianism; history is out there.
Future of the Country
One of our prized theologians “Muslim feminist” Hidayet Şefkatli Tuksal’s academic works are an example of a new mentality. It is normal that there are different perspectives but at the least, it should be accepted that women are equal as “humans.” The reality that all kinds of authoritarians should see is that “women” are now changing.
The traditional type of women who had accepted the superiority of men in the many centuries in the past, and thus had taken her place in social harmony, is changing through the modernization process: A new type of woman is developing who has recognized that she is “equal,” who is aware of this, regardless of her life style and political view. If Turkey is to reach the income per capita level of $30,000, if it is going to be a leading country, it will be this new woman who takes us to this national target; because it is not possible to go ahead as a country while at the same holding half of society back.