I studied as boarder. For five years! And like all boarders, I was proud of it. It felt like an institution of maturation. I got rid of being “mama’s boy” thanks to that place. I’ve become a “man”. I was 11 years old in my first year. I used to leave the home in tears, my mom wave hand from the balcony. I was going to school in sorrow. Then I got used to it. I became a part of that “jungle”. A promotion in a sense of Lord of the Flies!
There were all sorts of male violence there, which was always concentrating on suppressing the weak…The kids who didn’t know to masturbate were being mocked. If the ones who claimed to know it were doubted, they were being forced to masturbate. The people who remain silent were being given a hard time until they consequently stormed at. It wasn’t something like Dead Poet’s Society. The school was special, but nothing close to poet…
The last weeks of the school were being torture for lower grades. Binding those who sleep at night to the bunk bed, breaking the lock and locker of the people who brought food from their hometown were among those things…There were so called slily “harassments”. I sweat as I recall them!
The most oppressed ones were German-Turks. There were plenty of them, they were listening to arabesque music, the girls were extra self-confident and they were becoming “irritated” with “us”, the lowbrows. Their accent, dress, everything about them were found old-fashioned and they were being subjected to many forms of violence, be it physical or not.
Then we the boys discovered sport. Before and after etude, after dinner and lunches…They were all excuses to run after the ball.
Those who couldn’t play were considered loser but I was one of the lucky ones. I had matured early and I started to grow taller before everyone. That’s why, I wasn’t one of the shortest ones. The shortest, weakest, fattest, tallest…They were suffering most. They all were being subjected to mockery and psychological violence.
I should be honest here. I imposed violence too. I remember that I was treating a boy really bad because he was talentless and the team was losing because of him.
I recall walking up to him one day. I thought he was mummy’s boy. I feel embarrassed when I remember it now.
Then, the construction of our summer house ended and we started to go to Mersin every year. The boarding school ended as well and the period of “being from Adana” started. We were playing football, going to the football games, fighting and making sheep’s eyes at girls. The filthiest period of puberty and becoming man. Ugly years under the invasion of pimples and the stench of masturbation. An unnecessary state of youthfulness and swagger which I could not get over until my university years...
The stories that I am telling here are theoretically my memories from the ‘decent’ boarding school years and adolescence. I graduated from a college in İstanbul, after all. But, it was in no way an exception. The general boy culture which prevailed when we were growing up was more or less like that.
Just think about the ‘mob’ which fills the tribunes today, always tends to use violence, gets in a mood for lynch when they come together and cannot speak without using foul language.
They are the very part of this culture of becoming man. A mass which does not get in contact with women, socializes by doing sports, hangs out only with the ones resembling them and hates everything that is different. Those who cannot speak by themselves, but think that bullying with cheers is ‘character’...
Just add to them the adolescents, the grown-ups or the ones unable to do so, who cannot get out of childhood, attach a meaning to the adolescents inside them, think that football is their ‘privacy’ and define the tribunes as their legitimate area of machismo.
Add to it the talk of ‘manhood’ that is repeatedly brought up in the conversation.
The gravity of the situation expands further. Class or identity is of no relevance anymore. All these grown-up people, these educated men ranging from artists to teachers reproduce this machismo over and over again. It is the dark face of the ‘circle of friends’ which is glorified as the tribune culture!
When I look back, yes, I am still proud of getting educated at a boarding school. I think that it is the syndrome of puberty and manhood which I cannot work out.
There is a very thin line between defining my boarding school as a place of getting mature and viewing it as a center of testosterone. I hope that I can now clearly differentiate on which side of the line I stand.
I hope that I did not tyrannize many people back then. Because everyone was like that; it was not a period of saying, ‘But, I was different’. Everyone was the same thing!
In fact, it is exactly what needs to be changed. We have to destroy this shell, this identity. It is difficult to get somewhere without questioning this manhood which we have inherited today from yesterday and without criticizing puberty and football as the center of reproducing sexism constantly and over and over again.
If not that day, has not the day come to do that today? (BE/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.
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