I am writing as a man who feels responsible with respect to stopping male violence starting from his own life rather than a man who attempts to give advice to women on how to struggle against male violence.
Even though I don’t believe that men participating in discussions about gender and male violence will not make an extra contribution to what women say, I will try to write my efforts and deficiencies on this path.
Men and colonialists are taught since their childhood that they are privileged and they want to use it through their whole life. I also knowingly or unknowingly used this privilege.
Apart from being biologically a man or a woman, it has taken me a long time to comprehend the concept of gender that points roles and responsibilities incurred on men and women by society.
Because I grew up with the idea that violence is seen normal and necessary when required. It took me a long time to realize that when a woman becomes successful or objects to something, she is praised with the words “Woman like a man”, what is praised here is masculinity. Or when a woman is referred as “woman like a state”, what is underlined is “greatness of the state”.
Especially in studies I recently conducted, I clearly realized that women are actually in the front line and none of them are like “state” or “men”.
In the documentary I made about women in Cizre, I learned by being ashamed of my manhood and myself that no women were “state” or “men” in the face of state or male violence, they are exactly “woman” and they are strong and resistant as women. As Marx says, “Being ashamed is virtue”.
I questioned my masculinity a lot by witnessing Berfo Ana’s struggle of search for her son, which lasted 33 years, for 3-4 years.
In the same manner, I closely saw how Asiye Doğan whose son was detained in 1995 struggled against state power as a “woman” for “men”.
Indeed, my most important confrontation came into existence thanks to Kurdish Women’s Movement. Kurdish Women’s Movement’s struggle against male mindset within the “Movement”, the sacrifice which I could only came to understand later, trained us with patience.
Of course this patience and questioning yourself or not being able to fully recompense for the things done for you leave many deficiencies in a person.
Just like the relationship between the colonialist and the colony. Colonialists do not question themselves, they do not judge themselves, they do not want to find faults with themselves.
It is based on assimilating the other to oneself instead of changing with the self-confidence given by dominance. When there are protests, they try to find arguments that will justify themselves instead of changing. As in the case of the relationship between the Turks and Kurds and men and women.
If I turn to myself, I would like to emphasize an incident, which is my biggest transformation and caused me to hate myself as a man.
This incident is the “exhibition” of the naked body of Kader Kevser Eltürk (Ekin Van) in the middle of Varto, Muş on August 10, 2015 by the male law enforcement officers of the state, most of whom with blood on their hands and proud of this blood, with the aim of humiliating her in their own opinions. In fact, if we go down the memory lane, what happened in Varto was actually a concrete indicator of what they meant when they said “woman like a state” and “woman like a man.”
Because, in their minds, woman is the “honor” of the man and that of the society and with this act, they aimed to damage the “honor” of the Kurdish people.
However, there was something they did not know: That naked body exhibited by them would, in fact, become the honor and pride of the women who would wage a struggle for years and of us men, who have partly managed to change themselves.
Moreover, working together and being friends with the women who have a feminist consciousness and protect their rights till the bitter end was an informative period, which led me to question myself.
Because, theoretically, there was a big difference between understanding an issue and implementing it in practical life. In other words, understanding that the things that I view as my rights actually originate from gender tendencies did not automatically lead me to give up on those rights.
Because, giving up on the rights granted to men by patriarchy is not that easy. The constant questionings and corrections of feminist women towards us have increased my efforts in that regard.
Today, I might be paying scrupulous attention to avoid using a masculine language or behaving in ways that could be considered psychological, economic, verbal or physical violence; but, it would still be assertive to say that I look at the male violence around me from the right perspective.
I can still turn to “but”s. For instance, when a relative or friend of mine inflicts verbal violence on his partner, I sometimes catch myself thinking, “but, at least, there is no physical violence.”
It is not easy to be done with coming to terms with manhood. Since the things that we think we have accumulated can disappear very fast, it is impossible to say, “I have overcome it.” It is a reality that needs to be confronted over and over again.
In order to prevent the violence that we claim to take a stand against, we men must first confront our own violence. The process of questioning “manhood” starts at this exact point.
With the awareness that we cannot stand out of it by merely saying “I am out of it”, we need to sincerely open ourselves to the objections raised by women and learn to listen to the statements of feminists.
We have no other choice than keeping our distance from manhood and finding the ways to struggle against it. (VA/ŞA/APA/TK/SD)
Images: Kemal Gökhan Gürses
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