Sleeping with the enemy

Sleeping with the enemy

Women on TV are glorifying men with criminal tendencies against their spouses or girlfriends, on one popular talk show after the other. Is there a hidden message behind all this, or is it just a simple “ratings” game? Do we really love men who beat us? Do we really fall in love with the tough guy who hits us? Get real.

In times of social and economic hardship, women tend to look to the strong guy. It is the basic instinct in us that tells us to survive. When we fear there will be unrest on the street, when we lose sleep over our children’s futures, we search for a partner who will protect us. But after 80 years of women’s struggle for economic and political independence in this country, no woman will yield to a man who is less than her.

The bar is raised for men, and that is the challenge. They have too much to worry about now. Life at work is hard, and living in big city is every day a survival game in a jungle. And sometimes women do not find the right partner that will keep them comfortable and happy. But what are they doing in the meantime? Turkish men want their spouses to be beautiful and caring women, good cooks, great housekeepers and excellent mothers. How are we supposed to fall into these roles constantly with equal finesse, and not complain?

A great friend and a former war correspondent from Bosnia, Şerif Turgut, was shocked about what she saw on Seda Sayan’s popular daytime talk show, in which Sayan hosted a man who killed two of his five previous wives and was almost proud about it. She posted on Twitter as @Ljiljantr: “The guy with a knife, the one with the screwdriver, all walk free. The message from the state: We are normalizing violence, so that you get used to the things that will eventually happen.” Her words should send shivers down the spine of every man and woman.

My dear Şerif knows all too well that when civil war breaks out, women become targets. It is no surprise for her to see Yazidi women forced to change their religions or be raped by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). She has seen, heard and reported so many horror stories in Bosnia that it is almost a déjà vu experience for her. She also wrote on Twitter that when ultra-religious fighters from Chechnya and the Arab Peninsula came to fight in Bosnia, they were ordered to take part in the organized militia or go home. A team of Bosnian soldiers executed the mercenaries who refused to obey these orders. “In the Bosnian war 50,000 women were raped and 10 percent of the population died, yet people did not want these head-chopping psychos,” she wrote.

Another friend of mine, who was a soldier for a long time, said this about the civil war in Iraq a while ago: “First you lose a town, then you lose a city, after that a region … And then goes the entire country.”  He continued, sadly, “Then goes your love and your purity and chastity.”

What Şerif Turgut wrote while watching Seda Sayan opened my eyes to a larger emerging truth. We in Turkey may be blinded by TV dramas, game shows and political debate every day. But the war on our borders is closer than we think, and it may even hit our bedrooms, our love lives and our loved ones.

Before this civil war becomes our war, we all should think again and create a new space for women and men to live together. Before the storm hits our very own neighborhood, we should caress and hold each other with compassion.

To love a man is a difficult task, but to love oneself is even harder. Every woman should start within.

Despite what Pat Benatar says so incredibly, love is not a battlefield. Neither should it be a talk show related to murder cases.