I’m penning this article for bianet’s project. 52 men will take the floor on male violence and these articles will be published once a week.
I’m trying to understand the ground. When we want that 52 men take the floor, what do we want from this 52 men? The number 52 is a sort of circle, symbolism to complete a year. It could easily have been seven articles per week. Either 52 or seven, the purpose would be the same. So it would be eternal, not a definite number, a reference to continuity.
Then, the question is this: What do we want from a certain number of men when we want them to talk on male violence to represent trans-number?
I am trying to imagine it by comparing it to a publication that consists of interviews made with 52 people from country of Y about the invasion, looting and colonialism against the massacre they carried out against the Q people, or I’m trying to compare it with a situation where 52 white people whose roots go back to slave owner families are asked to speak about racism against black people. Some other political examples come to my mind but each of them come with burden of their context so I try to keep them limited. Do we ask resident of libertarian country of A or libertarian white person to prove their libertarianism by taking the floor? I don’t think so, the purpose should be more than eliminating some among the “bad ones” and attributing privilege to some, or than relieving by seeing that some are “less evil” and ease our fears…
Let’s say a white person talks about white racism they witnessed over a critical incident. We think that this narrative is different than a black person’s narrative. Is it because it would be more “objective”, more “unbiased”?
An anti-rape movie had become popular as I was in high school. The Accused. We as a couple of men had gone and watched the movie. The next day, one of the guys who came with us said the following to the girls when talking about the movie: “I thought and decided not to rape women ever’” I remember that no one liked this comment (pledge).
Would the black people like to hear a white person deciding not be racist ever? I don’t think so. I think the main reason behind this unwillingness is the “possibility” and “desire” in the expression of “decided not to”. Maybe there is a need for cancellation of this possibility.
Another memory. An artist friend, this time in 90s I guess rather than 80s, had told he noticed that a man was beating a woman, and he stood for a long time watching the man kicking and beating the woman on İstiklal Street. When the beating stopped, he stopped standing and then walked away, with various explanations and questionings, indeed. Would we feel better if he had said, “I decided to be braver and step in taking the risk after the incident on İstiklal Street”? Would we like to read it for 52 weeks? Why don’t we?
It is as if we wanted there to be not a decision, but a naturality. A spontaneity… And we want to be given a sign that there might be a spontaneity. If 52 weeks gave such 52 signs, you would read them for 52 weeks. Every black person would read.
We want a statement that will renew our opinion as to the nature of the white/man, then. Why? Do we need to think that the bad is not entirely bad? If there is such a need, why?
As far as I can see, in principle, the reason is to sustain the possibility of living together, for the next generation. It is not for revenge, but for a revival, for the credibility of a revival.
An ethical proposition that one of the ‘fathers’ of classical anarchism Pyotr Kropotkin loved is hidden in his following riddle: To the question, ‘If you see a girl who has fallen to water, why would you rescue her’, which answer would be the most ethical one? After you dig for some time, this answer will come to light: The most ethical position of all would be jumping into water without thinking about it, jumping into water with the sole aim of rescuing the girl.
That is why, confessions and narratives of repression do not relieve us. Just as we would only be startled by a voice saying, “Actually, I used to burst into desires of oppression when I saw a black person; when a woman started talking about separation, I was very close to beat her but then I gave up; thoughts of rape crossed my mind so many times before, but I stopped them all, you did not notice it whatsoever, etc.”
Do not speak of desires and the ensuing complicated ethical positions. We are not there. Give me a hope that there is a possibility of living together. Show me something in your nature. Tell me about something that would come back, be brought up, flourished, revived, can have a future and can play a part in our future in one way or another just because it is in your nature… tell me about something that is unquestionably about you just because it is in your nature.
We want there to be heroisms, but without declarations - we do not want stories of heroism. Schindler’s list should not be kept by Schindler, so to say.
Neither confessions or narratives of heroism, nor big demonstrations of conscience or accepted disgraces are opening a way. There is a need for a sense of knowing that the truths, which are quiet, sincere and without declaration, are there.
It is one of the beauties of the 7/52 speaking format: Although even a single one of the 52 men does not manage to give what he has been asked for, the cycle will still continue. They can be in the wrong to their hearts’ content. The format itself has been immune to them from the beginning.
If we think that it is an unbelievably humane attempt towards the construction of future, would they find us too human-centered? - then, let us replace the word humane with very pro-life.
Good anecdotes can also be shared instead of malicious ones, they can also be used as examples. It is also possible to write texts that collect pro-life moments, attitudes and the moments when people jump into water without thinking about it. But we do not want to be persuaded to be pro-life with good examples. They should be spontaneous and convincing. We should believe that someone saves us from drowning without thinking about anything so that we can also believe in our attitude that we will jump into water to rescue someone without thinking about anything. So that we can love ourselves and can believe that we also love others just as we are and can be gradually loved as well...
If the last words are heroes, then I think that it is exactly why such articles and article series do not need a last word, they do not need an aphorism, they do not need any big declarations.
I am writing this article for a project of bianet. 52 men will write about male violence and these articles will be consecutively published, one article will be published each week. (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.
Author's Previous Articles
Sonrası İçin 7/52 08 August 2018Ne itiraflar ne kahramanlık anlatıları ne büyük vicdan gösterileri ne de üstlenilen rezillikler ...
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