I am one of those lucky children who could turn the games of their childhood into a profession. My name is Can. I have been a radio programmer for more than 7 years.
My journey started in my primary school years, when we recorded our voices in the only cassette-player in our house with my cousin Emel, who was one year older than me and was also our next door neighbor.
First greetings, then reading the news, attending the program as a guest by changing our voices, then faxes coming out of the backgammon, songs played on a different cassette-player, and lastly, recording new programs on the same cassette without listening to what we previously recorded...
I cannot remember if I said to Emel in those day, "I will turn this game into a job." In fact, I had to give a break in my early radio career after Emel moved to another neighborhood.
This period of my life was followed by the "hammer and sickle" that I met thanks to the computer game Red Alert that I played in my secondary school years; a few small-scale protest demonstrations, where I could barely escape from the police bludgeon at high school; then, studying Sociology in university and working, first, as a bookseller, then, as a civil society worker after my graduation...
As a result of a series of coincidences and supports, I have found myself playing the game of my childhood before a real microphone and with a person doing this job every day for 18 years.
I am now continuing to play the game, which I started playing with Emel in our childhood, with three men, one of whom sits on the technical table, one of whom provides editorial support from home and one of whom sits rights next to me, tidying up the broadcast.
I sit on the microphone every morning on the weekdays and report news on a series of subjects, primarily the ones on global climate change as well as environment, human rights, social movements, domestic and international politics, economy and sports, then, establish connections between those news and try to comment on them. And not to mention the connections that I establish with the incidents that took place in the past...
But, I know that something is missing. In a country, where men comprise 50.2 percent of the population and women 49.4 percent, there is something missing in trying to describe the world with four men.
And this missingness, unavoidably, poses the most everyday inequality of our time, namely mansplaining.
What is mansplaining?
Mansplaining is a state of manhood which has been in existence for a really long time now, but, has been only recently diagnosed.
According to the Wikipedia, which has been banned in Turkey for 584 days when this piece was written but, which I could still reach, mansplaining can be defined as follows:
"Mansplaining (a blend of the word man and the informal form splaining of the verb explaining) is a pejorative term meaning '(of a man) to comment on or explain something to a woman in a condescending, overconfident, and often inaccurate or oversimplified manner'. Author Rebecca Solnit ascribes the phenomenon to a combination of 'overconfidence and cluelessness'. Lily Rothman of The Atlantic defines it as 'explaining without regard to the fact that the explainee knows more than the explainer, often done by a man to a woman'."
Mansplaining has been translated into Turkish as "açüklama" or "erkekleme".
In every area of life can we encounter this situation that we can summarize as the action, where a man makes an explanation to a woman on every subject regardless of whether he is specialized in that field or not. At home, in school, on the street, at work, in a symposium, on television and radio... In several fields, we, men, are mansplaining.
We are mansplaining sometimes with the confidence that we can use the power (status, money, title, age, etc.) in our hands, sometimes because it is what we have learnt from our families, but we are always mansplaining because we are men.
The ground is available for mansplaining. Let me remind it one more time:
In 2017, the female population of Turkey was 40 million 275 thousand 390 people while the male population was 40 million 535 thousand 135.
If we restate it in percentages, while women comprise 49.8 percent of the population of Turkey, men account for 50.2 percent.
In Turkey, whose population is 80 million, the number of men is only 250 thousand people higher than that of women.
Though there is only a 0.4- percent difference between men and women in terms of general population, there is an enormous difference when the working life is considered:
"According to the calculations of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 2017, Turkey ranks 163rd among 188 countries in terms of participation in labor force with 51.5 percent.
"While Turkey ranks 165th in terms of women's participation in labor force with around 32 percent, the average rate of women participating in labor force in the OECD countries is 51 percent. As for the participation of men in labor force, Turkey ranks 104th among 188 countries with a percentage above the OECD average of 68.5 percent (World Bank 2017)."
In the radio program that is prepared with the cooperation of four men, we base our news on domestic and international scientific reports, articles and news, but, it does not necessarily mean that our target audience is a men's club. In the program, the story presented to the audience in the form of a conversation between two men is, a media product which is offered to women, men and LGBTİ+ individuals.
The situation in other media outlets is not really different. A news report prepared by Çiçek Tahaoğlu from bianet summarizes the situation as follows:
Women account for 19 percent of newspapers' impressums while men account for 81 percent.
Women account for 36.5 percent of the impressums of those newspapers' websites while men account for 63.5 percent.
As for the impressums of news websites, while women accounts for 40.9 percent, the rate of men is 59.1 percent.
When these figures are taken into consideration, we can see that though we are in a slight demographic majority, we, men, find jobs, speak and write. And, as a result of these advantages, we lean our backs against our majority in the public sphere and mansplain a lot.
I am mansplaining about mansplaining
I might also be mansplaining by saying all these things. But, this time, I am leaning my back not against the unjustly acquired rights, but, against this sterile space, which has been opened by bianet so that men can write about male violence.
And, there is the situation where men mansplain with the awareness that they mansplain... This situation opens this subject to discussion and makes such a beautiful concept as self-criticism a part of one's consciousness. It inserts it in our memory to ask questions such as "Am I mansplaining now?", "Have I just mansplained or what?", "Why are all of the panel speakers men?" while we are writing, saying, watching and reading something.
What is the connection between mansplaining and male violence? I am still thinking about it. But as long as we mansplain by saying "it is how it is supposed to be done", we push women outside the social sphere and ignite the fuse of several mechanisms of violence and pressure including physical violence. And we sometimes do it by intellectual means...
It might be confusing since it is a relatively new term and concrete examples might be necessary to better mansplain what mansplaining is. If you would excuse me, I will try to mansplain mansplaining through the article "Artificial Stupidity", which has also been published as part of this article series.
Mansplaining? Really, here?
"They say that artificial intelligence will dominate everything. Artificial intelligence would do everything but would not inflict violence on women."
First, bad news: Artificial intelligence, which Müfit Can Saçıntı has argued in his article that it will dominate everything in the future, is not as innocent as it is presumed.
Last October, the US-based e-commerce giant Amazon cancelled the artificial intelligence program that it had developed to use during its recruitment process. The reason for the cancellation was that the artificial intelligence created to automate recruitments discriminated against women candidates!
The system, which was caught discriminating against women, was cancelled despite being fixed.
As reported by Ayşe Özbek Karasu from Habertürk newspaper, the sexism of artificial intelligence is not limited to the biggest e-commerce giant of the world.
Alex Shams, who has been doing his PhD degree in the field of anthropology in Chicago University, realized that while doing translations from Turkish into English, "Google Translate" attributes positive characteristics and the jobs held in higher esteem to men. In other words, when "Google Translate" translates the gender-neutral third-person singular "O" in Turkish into English, the result is discriminating to the core. For example, if one wants to translate the sentence "O çalışkan" into English, the suggestion of "Google Translate" is "He is hardworking." However, when the source sentence is "O tembel", the suggested translation is, all of a sudden, "She is lazy." Women are beautiful, men are ugly; women are faint-hearted, men are brave; women are sad, men are happy... The list goes on and on...
Even the search engine of LinkedIn leaves aside the names of women and chooses men.
A similar incident has also been reported by the Artı Gerçek news website. In a research conducted in Princeton University, artificial intelligences were assigned with matching words by using the popular GloVe algorithm. The artificial intelligences that were left by themselves used online texts in order to better understand the language of humans.
GloVe was designed by using the database which is known as Common Crawl and comprises a list of 840 billion words compiled from different websites. When this database was closely observed, it was seen that while the words 'female' and 'women' are grouped in the same cluster with the words about domestic work, the words 'man' and 'male' are grouped in the same cluster with the words about mathematical intelligence and engineering.
But, why is artificial intelligence doing this?
As reported by the Artı Gerçek news website based on a news report published on the Guardian, computer scientist Joanna Bryson from the University of Bath has answered this question as follows:
"Many people say that this result shows that artificial intelligence is prejudiced. No. It shows that we are prejudiced and the artificial intelligence is just learning from us."
According to the figures announced in 2018, 69.1 percent of the employees of Google, one of the two above-mentioned companies, are men.
A vast number of Google employees, especially women, who have been doing the dream job of many young people but have revealed the inequality that they face in Google, went on a worldwide strike last month and stopped working in protest against the sexual harassment and inequalities faced by women workers of the company.
Protests were staged after a New York Times article documented that senior executives of the company, who were dismissed from their jobs upon accusations of sexual harassment, were paid millions of dollars in compensation though the company did not have any obligation to do so.
As for the Amazon, whose founder and CEO is Jeff Bezos, the richest man of the world, the figures are as follows: 73 percent of its professional workers and 78 percent of its senior executives and directors are men. Of the 10 employees who directly report to Jeff Bezos, all of them, except for Human Resources Director Beth Galetti, are white and men!
According to a report entitled "Amazon's Unfair Deal of the Day", only category where the number of women workers is close to that of men is the category of servants, who do the hardest manual labor and "legwork." In this category, women account for 45 percent.
The situation is not any different in other companies operating in the information sector. The rate of women working in senior positions at Apple is 19 percent and at Facebook 30 percent.
As for the companies operating in Turkey, this inequality is all the more marked. According to the statistics shared by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), as of 2016, the rate of women working in senior or middle level positions in companies is 16.7 percent. As for the CEOs in Turkey, only 12 percent of them are women. The rate of women who study in the top 10 computer engineering departments of Turkey, whose graduates will shape the artificial intelligence, is 19.3 percent.
In summary, regarding the artificial intelligence, which is designed by male programmers working for male directors employed by male bosses, as the architect of a future which is free from sexism...
It might not be a correct evaluation.
Suppose that a socialist revolution breaks out tomorrow or we just switch to a nomadic society, could we return women their rights, which have been seized from them through ownership and consolidated all the more stronger via capitalism? I do not know.
But, contrary to what Saçıntı has argued in his piece, the current situation does not necessarily mean that women, who have been trying to survive in these unequal rates, can prevent physical and emotional violence and sexual harassment when they attain higher positions.
"The Research Report on Impact of Violence in Close Relation on White-Collar Women Workers and Business" has shown that 75 percent of white-collar women workers, most of whom are university graduates, have been subjected to a form of violence at least once in their lives.
40 percent of working women have been subjected to psychological-emotional violence, 35 percent of them to social violence, 17 percent to economic violence and 8 percent to physical violence.
Moreover, around one third of the women have stated that in case the woman employee informs her executive about the violence that she is subjected to, it will have a negative impact. Almost half of the women have indicated that they will be embarrassed to talk about the incident.
And, what about the ones on the very top?
In his article entitled "Artificial Stupidity", Saçıntı has asked the following question to his readers:
"Can we imagine that a male employee, who works in the same workplace with businesspeople Güler Sabancı or Leyla Alaton, subjects them to mobbing, harassment or violence?"
He has answered his own question: "No, we cannot."
At this point, let us conclude by remembering how Rothman has defined mansplaining: "Explaining without regard to the fact that the explainee knows more than the explainer, often done by a man to a woman'.
Now Leyla Alaton has the say:
P.S.: My cousin Emel developed a passion for photography aftering moving to another neighborhood. She is now one of the most famous photographers of Turkey and is still listening to our program in the morning. (CT/HK/SD)
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