The real dilemma in ‘girls, boys’ debate
The paradigm shifts in Turkey have always been painful, since the growing newcomer stages vengeful takes on weakening the other with criminalizing, crucifying and even destroying social and political campaigns. Adopting an increasingly “victimizing role” due to Turkey’s militarist and die-hard secularist past since coming to power, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last week sparked baffling, but still perilous debates on the co-ed housing of university students.
First, his remarks against the co-ed accommodation of students were labeled as “made-up” by his own deputy, who is not unfamiliar with being denied by the premier through his personal history. But he even signaled retirement after the latest rift. Yet again, Erdoğan appeared defiant and said he was behind his confusing words and as “a conservative-democrat,” he vowed for even official police actions after neighborhood spying on houses with “girls and boys.”
While he left for a visit abroad, the country was left to a debate that triggered a fresh and fair outcry over intervention into private lives, particularly those which are not conservative, thus “moral,” enough for the prime minister. Despite his repeated remarks suggesting otherwise, Erdoğan has a clear history of not only intervening, but also trying to twist or slander the ways of lives, cultures and even ethnicities that are not like his.
It is not only “girls and boys” who are on the target. If you are a woman in Turkey, you are obliged to have three kids, for instance. If you’d like to have couple of drinks, bammm, you are an alcoholic. Or you might like to enjoy a hike in one of the last green spots – Gezi Park – in central Istanbul, but sorry, it was closed by police force after a protest somewhere in the city. If you are living with your partner with taking the oath for each other but not for an official civic marriage, then you must be condemned.
Things are even worse if you have a different ethnic background, since you have gone through vilifying discourse or discriminatory practices, for instance, your place of worship will not be recognized or beliefs and ethnicity will be targets of assimilation, if not entirely ignored. Perhaps, you’d decide to bury the hatchet for a long-lost peace, but no, you have to take it easy since even your steps toward a rapprochement will be decided by the other side.
But wait a minute, at every turn, the Turkish prime minister repeats he is not only the prime minister of his electorates, but the entire country. He is there and serves everyone. Although his acts tell otherwise, he must have not absolutely, but a fair point in the micro-social traces of this country.
With his “girls and boys” salvo, Erdoğan aimed at having more voting return on the eve of local elections and the stakes are high that he might have it as well as a backlash. He pushed a perfectly normal button for his “conservative, democrat” electorate basis, which is already fumed with “immoral, sinful, marauder” lifestyles. Deep inside, he also touched the concerns of “non-conservative, democrat” families, who are as much as worried about the whereabouts of their kids as compared with conservatives.
For sure, this is about politics, not the sentimental ties, but well-aware of the huge effect of family values in a country still struggling to solve its moral and cultural confusions, Erdoğan aimed at luring these concerns, too. Young female and male citizens, who were perhaps praised by their families for hitting the streets during the Gezi Park protests, are having difficulties to explaining to their families that they are sharing a home with their partners or opposite-sex friends. Or someone with a different ethnic heritage might be left tormented after being told to stay mum about his/her ethnicity among others, who are “under normal circumstances” at odds with “conservative, democrat” undertakings in Turkey.
This is the real dilemma; nonetheless, a country is not ruled with the micro-level ups and downs. The young generation of this country was defiant enough to brave harsh crackdowns and violence in the early summer, and there will be times that they will stand brave enough against the social dilemmas and political pressure and build their own future with their own decisions. Otherwise, today’s interventions will be nothing amid the upcoming vaster new ones.