Is it a democratic right to interfere with women’s clothes?
A group of Islamic-dressed men in Ankara trying to distribute a written declaration titled, “Ladies, pay attention to veiling” was protested by women. Women reacted to the group by saying, “You cannot tell us what to wear and how to live. Get out of here.”
Some people argued it was a democratic right for these men to distribute the declaration compiling their thoughts and that the reaction of the women was anti-democratic. As a requirement of democracy, anybody can distribute any thought they wish and nobody can intervene; however, when you place this in the reality we are going through today, it cannot be possible to approach this with such a black and white view.
Interfering with women’s clothes is not unique to the male religious segment. In modern segments, it shows itself as violence in dating. Men interfere with and control the clothes of the women they are dating. Clothes are the tools of male bossiness. Thus, when their clothes are interfered with, women are far from seeing it as freedom of expression; they protest against this bossiness.
Also, in order to mention the existence of democracy, everybody should be equipped with democratic rights. When women protesting a sexist statement made by the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) are arrested, where demonstrators protesting violence against women are dragged on the ground, it is not too difficult to understand why pro-democracy women reject this one-way “democracy.”
In other words, the issue is more than whether or not distributing leaflets was a democratic right; it is the problem that democracy only functions for men.
It is the issue of how, in the absence of gender equality, women immediately find security forces facing them when they protest; it is the issue of how, in those cases where this gender inequality is fueled, men fully enjoy all the advantages of democracy.
Instead of sitting down to discuss masculine domination, expecting women to maturely accept interference in women’s freedoms as a requirement of democracy is treating women like robots, pushing aside the psychological and sociological effects of inequality.
For those who think women are too angry… How do you think women obtained their rights in the West? If they did not pursue their rights struggle radically and fanatically, do you think men would have presented women’s rights to women on a golden tray?
U.K. activist Emmeline Pankhurst said, “I know that women, once convinced that they are doing what is right, that their rebellion is just, will go on, no matter what the difficulties, no matter what the dangers, so long as there is a woman alive to hold up the flag of rebellion. I would rather be a rebel than a slave. I would rather die than submit; and that is the spirit that animates this movement... I mean to be a voter in the land that gave me birth or they shall kill me, and my challenge to the government is: Kill me or give me my freedom. I shall force you to make that choice.”
I’m not saying women should march to parliament and break its glass. But, in a place where rights, law and justice do not exist, democracy does not exist either.
Besides, clothes should also be considered among freedom of expression because it is one of the tools of self-expression. So, it would not be wrong to evaluate that this leaflet was interference in the freedom of expression of women.
Thus, it is a democratic right to react to interference to freedom of expression.