In the wake of the failed military coup in Turkey in July this year, there has been a slow masculinization of the Turkish public political sphere. And as slowly, but surely, the women suddenly disappeared from the public debate.
For many years, Turkey has had a proud tradition of political debate with many political discussions on television every evening. Where there were previously a very large selection of female debaters, commentators and experts in, among other things, the security policy area, these have now disappeared from the transmission surface. And why now?
Women in the Egyptian Revolution
This is not an unknown phenomenon. The Egyptian Revolution in 2011 is an example. The women represented up to 50 percent of the protesters in their struggle against the regime. But immediately after the fall of the regime, women with a hint of being equally matched with their male citizens in the struggle for democracy, were largely eliminated from the public debate about the country’s political future. Reduced to nothing as if they had never been present.
And because no one had to doubt where the women belonged, an agency with the saying name, the Council of Wise Men, was immediately established. Just to eradicate any doubts about the role of women in the political debate.
Women of Middle East Throughout Time
The phenomenon has historical roots for the Middle East women who demonstrated against the British colonial empire in bathing Egypt and Palestine on par with their male citizens in both the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Iraqi women demonstrated against British control and politics in Iraq. Algerian women demonstrated in the 1950s and 1960s against the French colonial empire. Similar to the Shiite women in Lebanon in July-August 2006 in the struggles between Hezbollah and Israel. And for the Iraqi women in protests against the presence of American troops in Iraq from 2003, like Palestinian women were active in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the 2008 rebel. The so-called Arab Spring had female participants on an equal footing from Tunisia to Libya, Egypt and Yemen.
In other words, there are numerous historical examples from the Middle East that women in these patriarchal communities have actually participated on an equal footing in, for example, a revolution or protest wave’s initial and decisive phases to a full extent.
Patriarchal norms and values are overlooked in an extraordinary situation – like a revolution or a protest wave against an invasion force. In such a situation, all gender roles and standards are abolished. Women’s womans are expelled and transformed into a fighter, an equal foot soldier.
Patriarchal societal patterns explain the second part of the phenomenon, but not the first part. It does not explain in itself why women in revolutionary times can fight like men with the struggle of the struggle, and then be eliminated from the equally important subsequent political discussion.
The explanation seems to be that patriarchal norms and values are overlooked in an extraordinary situation – like a revolution or a protest wave against an invasion force. In such a situation, all gender roles and standards are abolished. Women’s wives are expelled and transformed into a fighter, an equal foot soldier who, together with male fellow men, fights for one particular purpose.
But once this goal has been achieved, patriarchal brotherhood resumes as the all-dominant reader in the subsequent political debate. In this post-conflict phase, the woman is once again perceived as equal to her gender, and therefore excluded from the political development phase. Such a post-conflict society is often characterized by an increasing degree of masculinization and patriotism, and thus a further reduction of the woman’s position in the public debate room.
The post-conflict society can explain why Turkish women have suddenly disappeared from the public debate; why there are no longer female panelists or commentators in the political discussions on Turkish television. Because the country is still in a post conflict state.
Fortunately, Turkish women are well cared for the heavy band, and have dealt their own disappearance from the television broadcasting. They have, among other things, launched various campaigns to boycott various political debates without female participants. And that Turkish women have disappeared from the public political debate on television is about some clear evidence of the critical and vulnerable situation in the country at present.
In a post-conflict phase, the woman is once again perceived as equal to her gender, and in patriarchal society, therefore, again excluded from the political development phase.
If President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as head of state, had to signal the normalization of society; that everything is back to pre-military attempts, he should, as one of the first steps, ensure that his female citizens, debaters, commentators and experts are back in the public political debate. It does not solve all his problems and it does not restore democracy, but it is a necessary step that would suit both him and Turkey.
Image Source: Self-photographed, http://mstyslav-chernov.com/, 17 June 2013, 07:23:56, Taksim square peaceful protests. Events of June 16, 2013