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HOW TO COMPARE DIFFERENT FEMINIST MOVEMENTS? SOME COMMENTS FROM TURKEY’S FEMINIST EXPERIENCES

Serpil Sancar
Ankara University
Serpil Sancar
Ankara University
Open Panel

Abstract

My proposal will be developing some indicators by which the characteristics of two waves of feminist movements of Turkey become comparatively known for feminist scholars of women’s movements in global. In this context I will be dealing with two different historical periods, one of it is the beginning of 20th century comes to our attention as first wave feminist movement’s cradle with its political context determined by anti-colonialist independence war made against European invaders and determined as the rein of nationalist-modernist politics. This historical period may be defined as the period of nation-building process with its new gender regime that had open the way for women into public positions. This may not be categorized as women’s emancipation but a kind of empowerment in which women were provided the roles as modern wife of new generations and the teachers of new nation in exchange for acting with dignity. This new modern gender regime was not holding equal positions for men and women in all areas of new society, i.e. state administration and top political decision-making positions were exclusively for men but were much respecting girls education, professional women’s labour like doctor, lawyer, teacher, academic, etc. This case may be defined as a model of differentiated and gendered roles for women but not confined to domestic and feminine. This was case of first wave of feminist movement in the period of late Ottoman Empire and Early Republican Turkey was the women’s entrance to nation-building together with men partners but not enough to become emancipated. Second wave of feminist movement has came to scene after the military coup in 1980 and faced with the problems of post-Soviet politics that was mainly identity politics with its stuck on cultural differences. Concurrently the Islamist women’s movement was in the case of rising-up with its characteristics of post-colonialist mentality. In addition to these conditions it was the times of up-trending of ethnic conflict and rebellious Kurdist politics that was the origin of the foundation of separate but feminist Kurdish women’s movement. Relation between Turkey’s feminist movement and Kurdish women’s movement was time to time friendly but Kurdish feminist were mostly unconcerned with nation-wide feminist agenda but mostly concentrated to their own political priorities that is to struggle for cultural recognition of ethnic minorities. Even when Kurdish and Turkish feminist had come together it was the case of the uncompromising talks, that was about Kurdish feminist’s approval of Kurdish armed-resistance justified against Turkey’s state military troops’ violation of Kurdish human rights but the feminist groups positions was always against all kind of armed conflict deemed as the main supporter s of masculine domination over both Turkish and Kurdish women. As conclusion of my proposal I will be revealing two period of feminist movement of Turkey both were forced to be faced with armed conflicts. First one was for national independence and second was for cultural rights of Kurds and recognition as equal citizens before Constitution. In addition, both periods have configured under the condition of women’s organizations’ different political affiliation to different ideological actors, some were holding national political argumentations with a degree of hostility to each other and so to built a common feminist agenda was not always easy for women.