As we slowly separate from our TVs and learn to connect with other humans and talk about the things we did not do, the people we did not see, the affections we did not have, the things we miss, the hugs we did not get, the foods we over-ate, the TV we never switched off, I have one confession…
I survived (almost) the whole pandemic on JUST ONE SHOW.
Granted, it is a show of 448 episodes. But still!
How did I do this, you think? WHY did I do this?!
Oddly, it became the ritual around which I would anchor. At the end of my work day, I would feed the pupper, feed myself, take a shower, walk the dude, turn off the phone, pour a glass of wine, and invite a dozen bearded Turkish men on horseback into my living room.
I resisted this, at first. I’m not a binge-watchy type. I have stuff to do! A life to live!
Well, that was before the pandemic. Admittedly, I held off for two months of coronachaos, watching next to no TV. And then the pandemic did not end. So, I caved.
Enter… Resurrection Ertugrul!
My days felt like structureless nothingness, but my evenings followed a strict schedule: Feed pup. Feed me. Walk pup. Answer urgent emails. Shower. Put on relatively-clean elastic-waisted potato-sackish outfit. Pour glass of wine. Turn off lights. Switch phone to silent.
And then my bearded, horsebacked Turks would trot in. Every night.
What started as a curious foray into pre-Ottoman pre-Turkey (circa 1200s) turned into a study of regional religio-political dynamics and gender roles of the 1200s. Also an examination into poorly-translated subtitles and awkward Turkish expressions of the era.
Granted, the show is loaded with Turkish propaganda (not into anyone’s propaganda, really) and religious whatever (absolutely NOT into that!), but I held on. I was gonna make it to the finish line – no matter what!
And now, 448 episodes later, I honestly miss them. I have practically earned Turkish citizenship with this time investment. And I appreciated the effort, despite a range of gendered cliches, to portray some strong women of that time.
But lately, Turkey’s women’s rights record is floundering. Maybe they are headed back to the gender roles of the Ottoman Empire?!
Well, we are going back in time, it would seem. On this precise date, 10 years ago, the Istanbul Convention was formed. The purpose is to end violence against women. And now, Turkey wants out.
Why?! No reason. Just cuz.
Women’s rights?! We’ve got this, say officials. We don’t need a big fat treaty. We’re cool.
Yes, President Erdogan actually took Turkey OUT of the world’s first binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women. If Turkish authorities don’t reverse this decision, it will take effect on 1 July.
Turkish women don’t agree. And – they are pissed. Rightly so! They’ve been protesting strongly, saying they are not afraid, and will not obey! If today’s Turkish women are as strong as those in my show, Erdogan is in for a BIG FIGHT.
The goal is to prevent, prosecute and ultimately END violence against women. Please tell me why you’re opposed to that?!
The Convention says that states need to protect women, mitigate risks, prevent incidents of violence – and respond when they do happen. This means shelters, rape crisis centers, hotlines, counseling, medical care, other critical lifesaving stuff.
Meanwhile, in Turkey and elsewhere, conservative patriarchal forces are at work. Ending violence against women will undermine family structures, they say! Or, that’s what they imply, anyway. Is violence against women a fundamental part of a healthy family? I’d think not.
Turkey even saw an increase in femicides in recent years. We are actually getting WORSE.
The World Health Organization says that 38% of women in Turkey have experienced violence at the hands of a partner in their lifetime. Is that the kind of family life you want?!
Gender equality will foster homosexuality, they say! Because we need to keep discriminating against who people are and who they choose to love. None of this rubbish makes sense to me.
The reality is that countries, religions, and a bunch of old dudes are basically threatened by equality, afraid to lose their power, and – fundamentally – afraid of women.
And so we keep fighting.
I wonder what the strong women from my show would have said – I bet they would not be happy. A return to Ottoman-era Turkey is best left to the screen, not real life.
Women’s rights are not subject to opinions.
Women’s rights are not just rhetoric.
Women’s rights are not negotiable.
Fine words butter no parsnips!