I am Ulaş Bayraktar, a 43-year-old, supposedly educated, presently middle class, married father and I have never claimed to become a feminist.
To begin with, I am the eldest son of a woman who was widowed at the age of 33. Having the priority of being the son of a mother who raised her two sons all by herself despite her young age, first, in the little town where she was born, then, in a big city where she had no relatives by struggling against all types of bureaucratic, social and economic hardships, I witnessed it at first hand what women can achieve.
Therefore, my first contact with womanhood was with a mother figure who never shied away from doing and saying what she had in mind.
Moreover, since I grew up in a house without a father, I did not experience any husband violence or male dominance, which might have caused me to remain ignorant of domestic violence. In the most extreme cases, I remember that when my mother had a row with my grandfather, we spent a few days in downstairs without seeing them.
I cannot deny that my adolescence, which I went through in a foreign private school, was full of masculine frivolousnesses and excesses. When I look back on those days, I can realize it only now that our girl friends were watching us in a despising and even pitying manner.
A gravity would immediately come to our boy friend who had a girlfriend; while he was holding hands and embracing with his girlfriend, he would take on that cynical look and stay away from the adolescent scenes for some time.
With a gravity and solemnity, he would show off as if saying, "May Allah save you, as well."
What opportunities we were missing while dealing with this masculine adolescence nonsense.
In classes, we had to read "Of Mice and Men" and then imitated Lenny; after we watched the "1984", the only thing that we remembered about the movie was the breast of Julia, which was opened in one scene; in the "Death of a Salesman", we never sensed the fate of Willy, which was waiting for us; we got carried away by the boys in the "Lord of the Flies".
We never gave it a thought why our teacher from the US volunteered to go to Erzincan after the earthquake and we never appreciated the exercises that we did in creative writing courses, which were in fact as valuable as diamonds.
As for the girls, they were enjoying these oases created within the curriculum of Turkey.
When I went to university, I met women from the southern provinces of Anatolia, who made the best of these oases back in the day and surprised me with their intellectual interests and knowledge.
To be able to spend time with them, I was trying to understand structuralism, reflecting on the concept of natural law in the context of international law and was discovering the meanings of the lines in "Three Sisters", which we only memorized and staged in high-school.
Our only oasis was the mountaineering club. Since we could carry heavy backpacks, go on long hikes and climb high mountains, it was only there that we could enjoy our physical superiority to women. When it came to the flexibility required for rock climbing, we became sad again, but we gave up on that passion after a short time anyway.
When I started to work as a hiking guide in summer thanks to these mountaineering activities, I could, of course, not know that I would come across the bearing of my life.
While she was taking the first steps in her academic career, I changed my course to a profession which I had never thought of practicing before. All of my values were filtered through her sieve now, they were reshaping and reemerging.
First, we discovered together the secrets and beauties of the Taurus Mountains and Mediterranean, which witnessed and harbored the birth of our love. Then, the streets, cinemas and historical sites of İstanbul took on meaning one by one.
I met Paris with her eyes. We made it our home; and, then, Ada. Mersin, where we had been living since our senior year in primary school, was now an entirely different city. In a short time, it also became a city with Umut (Hope).
A person could find his lover, his friend, his life partner, his colleague, his mind-mate and his companion in only one person, which I have also learnt from a woman.
Thus, the women I know are not limited to my relatives, my classmates and their lovers. I have known women who suffered so much and were subjected to tyranny, mobbing, harassment and rape. But, only some of them have turned these experiences of violence into self-pity.
Neither were they grieving for their sorrows, nor were they escaping from life. They have derived strength and belief from these sorrows and continued to act and compete with life in a stronger and more determined manner.
They do the best of what lies in their hands and hearts without asking for help or needing anyone; they fearlessly struggle to do their best, be that in science, arts, trade or journalism.
Do not look for them always and only within the organized feminist struggle. You saw them during Gezi and you continue to see them among the Academics for Peace, at Galatasaray Square and in the highlands of Black Sea.
On the other hand, male dominance and male violence are not absent, they are even on the increase; yes. Because men are nervous. There are women everywhere, who demand to have a say in decision making, do not leave politics to men, do science, arts, journalism and management more skillfully than men, know to say no and do not avoid saying it.
There are women who do not want to become lovers or get married, who do not live sexuality as men request and who want to divorce, work and go, all of which make us men nervous; we feel that the ground is slipping under our feet.
The order, where the men who have that physical strength and opportunity of education prevail, is now changing rapidly.
The new economic order does not really require you to be muscly or strong, but it requires that you develop original ideas and projects and pursue them with patience and refinement.
It is not because they are women's professions, but because women have the creativity, patience and elaboration required by these professions that they have better chances of being successful in this new order. Therefore, the more established this order will become, the stronger the position of women in the new order will get.
In her study entitled, "The End of Men: And the Rise of Women", which appeared on the Atlantic magazine in 2010 and was published as a book in 2012, the US journalist-writer Hanna Rosin puts forward the changing balances in gender struggle.
Rosin argues that as economy is now based on reflection and communication, rather than on physical strength and endurance as it was previously the case, the advantage enjoyed by men for centuries is coming to an end and women, who have social intelligence and ability to concentrate, become more successful in professional life.
As a matter of fact, Rosin observes that the better-educated women have already been in majority in 13 of the 15 best jobs of the future.
I have no doubt that as this change gains ground, women will come to a more decisive position not only in economy, but in politics, as well.
Though I very much value the efforts made to speed up this change, I cannot help expressing my reservations about it at every opportunity. Because I am worried that the growing nominal presence of women in politics could not make a change in the logic of politics.
In my opinion, that the Iron Ladies, zeibeks in high-heels, Merkels, Çillers and Rices do politics does not bring about much change in the masculinity of politics.
The masculinity of the order can tend to maintain itself over "crypto" women. I frequently encounter masculine politicians looking like women in not only politics, but in civil society and even within feminist struggle as well.
I cannot help observing that a struggle waged only against men and an effort to gain rights by trying to reciprocate them also masculinize women in the end.
In fact, women can only wage a real struggle by doing the best of what lies in their hands and hearts, in their own styles, with their own acting preferences and perseverance. To me, pondering about constructing a new political habitus and making efforts to that end seems to be more meaningful than the disappearance of the word female.
Of course, I know a lot of women who view the feminist struggle from this perspective, but I think the prevailing understanding of struggle is about changing men, persuading them and demanding rights from them.
However, it seems to me that the prospective empowerment of women, which has already started, needs to be more independent of men.
Because though the success of the power struggle waged against men will change the existing injustices in favor of the female gender, it might still result in nothing but the immanent reproduction of the gender asymmetry.
In fact, a movement that would be created by embracing women's own natural styles of thinking and acting might be the only way to establish a more egalitarian society.
Lucky me that my path has crossed with so many women who have been walking on that road. (UB/ŞA/APA/SD)
Images: Kemal Gökhan Gürses
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