All the prostitutes of Turkey, unite
BELGİN AKALTAN - firstname.lastname@example.orgIf you write the words “or*sp* Tuğrul” in Google, you will find an interview published last week. The word “or*sp*” means prostitute in Turkish. (If you don’t know what the word is, the first asterisk is an “o” and the second is a “u.”)
Speaking to Kübra Par from HaberTürk, an Islamic scholar said that getting pregnant out of wedlock was the same as prostitution. I don’t want to repeat this guy’s name, but we first heard about him when he said pregnant women should not go out of the house and walk on the streets in broad daylight; instead they should be driven around by their husbands in the evening hours if they need to get some fresh air.
This time, he said, “There are some who declare ‘I will not get married and I will get pregnant.’ They call it freedom. I spit on this world where prostitution is called freedom. The name of this is prostitution. In America, they also allow homosexuals to get married. I spit on this kind of development. If this is advancement, then I better stay underdeveloped. There is no respect for family, no respect for privacy. And they call it freedom, is that so?”
I apologize for the level of the language, but this is how he speaks.
After this, political scientist and sociologist Ayşe Sargın wrote a piece titled “Or*sp*” – you know what it means by now – on bianet.com. She said maybe it is time for all of us to cry out loud “We are all prostitutes.”
I, not Sargın, but me, Belgin Akaltan, want to cry out loud “I am a prostitute.” Firstly, I agree with Sargın. Secondly, I was pregnant without being married at one point in my life, so I am a perfect prostitute in the eyes of this pervert.
This reminds me of my late cousin Ömer, who was at Galatasaray Lycee, one of Turkey’s best schools, which teaches in French and which has its own rules - just as any established good school. Ömer said nobody called each other “son of a b*tch” at school because “We know none of our mothers are b*tches.” He said the worst insult to a schoolmate at Galatasaray would be “karaktersiz” (no character, without character). That was in the late 1970s. How mature that was, I am now thinking. I wish politicians or politically motivated so-called religious scholars did not use the female body as an insult. Like high school students in the 1970s. I wish they were that mature.
Sargın drew attention to the increasing amount of judgmental stances against the independent choices of women about their own bodies and their lives. Women’s freedom of choice is always referred to as a negative thing to be blocked, and this approach is almost considered normal now, she wrote.
“We know how scary it is for men and the state – which controls women through men and family – for women to make decisions about their bodies and lives independently of men. We also know about the fear created by the loss of control of men on women and how that fear emerges as individual and social hate toward women’s bodies and women’s sexuality,” Sargın wrote, warning that this hate is becoming routine, ordinary, normal these days.
What we have been taught since being young is that “Sex is bad for women, but ‘very good’ for men. Young girls should avoid sex whatever the cost, but young boys are free to try by all means to have sex,” Sargın wrote.
Men also call women “prostitutes” when the woman angers them. So, in order not to become an “or*sp*,” in addition to not having sex without society’s approval, women should also not make men angry, in matters not related to sex, Sargın said.
As Turkish girls, and maybe as young girls in most parts of the world, we are taught not to be like prostitutes: We should not dress like prostitutes, not wander the streets like a slut, not laugh like one, not talk like one…
Sargın found her moment of liberation when she realized that no matter how hard she tried, she would not be able to escape being called a prostitute. “If everything is prostitution then nothing is prostitution. If all of us are prostitutes then maybe none of us are prostitutes.”
“Maybe the best thing we should do is what the homosexual men in Turkey did when they adopted the word ‘f*gg*t;’ maybe we should adopt the word ‘or*sp*’ and abolish, wear out this word, which has been used by the patriarchal society to marshal women, to control and discipline women’s decisions on their bodies and about everything else. Maybe it is time for all of us to cry out loud ‘We are all prostitutes.’”
Maybe men will join us, Sargın wished, “The men that we have been committing all this out of wedlock sex together with, the ones we made babies together with, all of whom we engaged in all of those prostitutions together with. Maybe we will be able to salute all of those brave women who, at every corner of Turkey, every day, are being insulted, raped, oppressed, beaten, crippled and killed by their brothers, fathers, boyfriends, fiancés, husbands and ex-husbands because they were and are saying ‘my life, my body, my identity, my future’ and cry out loud that they exist.”
Maybe next year on March 8 or May 1, we will carry banners written “Suppose I'm a prostitute…” “With this banner, we will demand equality and freedom for all people, and by all means for women. If passers-by make fun of us and ask what we cost by the hour, we will laugh at their faces with our prostitute laughter, tell them it is none of their business, and walk away. We are prostitutes anyway, you know, we can do anything…”
I am thinking, (Not Ayşe, this me is me, Belgin) maybe men will carry banners “Suppose I'm a son of a b*tch.” And young girls will carry, “Suppose I'm a daughter of a b*tch and a young b*tch myself.” Too bad my son now is a “son of a b*tch.” But I am sure he will find his moment of liberation himself, or maybe together with a self-declared “young b*tch” herself.