Do you think women can rule?

What is it, feminism?

This text was written while our group was on vacation after a busy year. Actually, one cannot speak of a vacation, but rather of a work camp. We wanted to relax, but also talk to each other in detail. At KAMER, we sometimes have such a pace of work that we don't find time to sit down and talk in depth. This camp should be a good opportunity for us to do that.

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We had identified a few topics that we wanted to discuss. One of these issues was "feminism". Before we started exchanging ideas, we pinned the framework: "What is the meaning of feminism for us in everyday life? What is the relevance of feminism for us in view of the problems in Turkey, the women's movement and the problems in our own lives of what we have perceived and observed? ". We wanted to talk about these aspects. We thought that if we discuss feminism on the basis of concrete experiences, it would be more understandable and more engaging.

On Monday morning, July 13th, after breakfast, we turned on the tape and talked about feminism. We didn't want to mention our names - what meaning do they have! The words are important. To hear the cackling of the chickens and chicks, the chirping of the crickets and the splashing of the water that sounds from the Kumluberg - that's up to you.


Burning sun: I attended a conference on real estate investing. The speaker, a very famous architect, noted at one point in his lecture: "We should work in such a way that we always have those in society in mind who need our protection, women and children". I thought I did not hear right. A huge hall, numerous architects, investors, owners of real estate companies, managing directors, bank directors - everyone was present. I was beside myself with excitement, but I couldn't interfere directly, after all, I had come to the conference through someone else and had not been personally invited. Later we sat over the meal that was given for all conference participants. The speaker himself who uttered this sentence sat at a different table from me. But one of his students was sitting with us. I tried to focus the conversation on this lecture and sentence and repeated this sentence word for word.

I noticed that they did not notice the discrimination in that sentence. Because they couldn't say "So what's the deal?" they responded with sentences like "No, he didn't say that". I replied that his speech was definitely in writing as a working paper, we could read it there. "We can't hand that over, it's internal," I got in reply. But I assume the speaker was informed of my reaction because he came up to me later. I repeated the sentence again and said: "You said that". "Write to me, I'll send you the text. I didn't say anything like that," he replied. But I never heard from him again.

A friend who knew the speaker better asked me after a few days whether I had received an answer from him. "No," I said, "but the text is not important either. The important thing is that he understands it, and I think he has".

Well-tried earth: I think that we who call ourselves feminists are not open to new insights and criticisms. We assume that we have understood the matter, have come to the right place and can no longer do anything wrong. But in my opinion, our lifetime will not be enough to become aware of everything. It's going to take another generation. Perhaps the next generation but one will have it better. If we forego new insights and do not accept criticism, then we will take rapid steps backwards. In addition, nobody has to serve as a role model. Taking one person as an example means creating a hierarchy anyway. We all learn by trial and error.

Mountain in the fog: My last experience was this: An academic somewhere in the world who calls herself a "feminist" is doing an investigation into an area marked by violence and poverty. However, the study has received various criticisms and she feels unhappy. There can, of course, be many reasons for her unhappiness: She has not found the right language and approach, the scope of the investigation has not been well defined, relationships with those to be examined have run wild, or one did not pay attention to her sensitivities ... But instead of each other To question yourself and to find out something about yourself, the feminist academic says to herself, from places where violence and poverty prevail you cannot return happily anyway and in this way ignore the situation. An important opportunity arose for her to know herself, but she could not use it. She probably assumed she already knew everything and wasn't making any mistakes.

Tried and tested earth: New parties are currently being founded in Turkey or new parties should be founded. Because there is a great need here. I am following this with great interest. For us feminists, all areas of life are territories of political activity; we have redefined the forms of political action.

A person in charge of such a new group said on a television channel: "The systems have collapsed, we can now criticize the old. In this case we should found a new world, new parties. We have set such a development in motion. We work with participatory ones Methods. We, the founding members, put issues such as the disabled, environmental problems, economic problems and the women's issue on the agenda ". This sentence was enough for me to see that it is again just a repetition of the old one.

I am waiting for the following day to be found: "We, women and men, who are aware of the gender problem and question sexism, are starting a new movement". Women are not an area of ​​activity for new groups. Only those organizations in which women and men question their respective roles will really be "new".

Moving water: Because of women who are not open to change, who say I will stay the way I am, who look down hierarchically from above, who have a firm opinion of feminism, who do not question, who teach but are not open to new things - because of There will always be women like that who say, "If that's feminism, then I'm not a feminist".

Tried and tested earth: I used to believe that animals and plants are there to make people happy. Against the backdrop of feminism, I found that the first hierarchy began with man's domination of nature. While we used to seek refuge under a tree, there are now houses in its place that rise up into the heavens. And we managed to live in these.

Burning sun: And that without asking the trees for permission.

Well-tried earth: Yes, there is a globe and living beings on it. These are people, animals and plants. The only difference is that people have minds. But we have only used it to establish power and domination and have brought the world into this state. For me, that is the most important insight of the past five years. Now we are getting older and so is the world. And we have so polluted and torn the world that we don't know what's going to happen.

Sand hill: I want to form an opinion about everything, but I don't know how to go about it. For example, I read a page and think about what I have read. While reading, I sense some things, but I cannot name them. That gives me a stomach ache. I can't make up my own mind.

Tried and tested earth: Why shouldn't you be able to form an opinion? For example, on which topic do you fail?

Sand hill: It is like this: Sometimes I cannot name what I have noticed and I cannot tell it.

Tried and tested earth: I think you can form your own opinion quite well. I think that in order to be able to think about it, you have to learn a lot first. And you can both think very well about topics that you have dealt with and weigh things up that do not make sense to you. For example, you are very familiar with work techniques related to violence against women. Perhaps you remember, on a trip through the villages, you interrupted your conversation with a woman who came to us to save herself from violence because it did not take place in the conference room. Because you knew very well that the story of every woman is personal and must therefore be kept secret. The women who come to our centers may not know this, but we are aware of why we also set up the meeting rooms. You want to learn everything at once and form an opinion on every topic. We have said that feminism means being curious and learning, but we cannot learn everything at the same time. Besides, I don't think we need to learn and know everything.

Sand hill: Yes, I am interested in all the problems in the world, including the insects between the blades of grass. I think feminism is learning. But sometimes I cannot understand something or only half understand it.

Mountain in the fog: You have been with KAMER for ten years. When you came to us, you made ravioli. Now you're doing neighborhood work. In my opinion, you've made huge strides. Is everyone forced to learn everything? Or can we learn everything at once? I think it all starts with curiosity, followed by a learning process and then sharing the knowledge and experience you have acquired. It doesn't all work at the same time! Make an example, on which topic you were unable to form an opinion?

Sand hill: For example, the Kurdish question and possible solutions have recently been discussed. I follow some discussions and see that there are things that I don't think are right, but I can't formulate them.

Silent flood: I think the problem you describe has nothing to do with not being able to form an opinion. It's about something else. The fear of "what will happen if I say it" triggers behavior in us that has been imposed on us by the sexist system and the hierarchical system.

Sand hill: No it is not. I can not explain.

Shelled peanut: I ask you: do you think that feminists have to know or learn everything? Are we forced to say something per se at every meeting?

Well-tried earth: But we all know that. For example, after realizing the relationship between humans and nature, I started reading and observing, and then explored the subject. There is no end to learning anyway! It is enough if we realize through what we have learned that we cannot know everything and that we should not use absolute language, otherwise we will block our own way.

Shining star: What I know for sure is that I want to be a feminist and live the rest of my life as an individual. That is - frankly - my real ambition. No matter how often I think of myself, of what I have experienced, even when I say to myself that you have questioned society, you have changed - the process of becoming aware never ends. What has what has been done to me, what has been drummed into me for years, my role as friend, wife and mother? I'm trying to question and change all of that. But in times when my thoughts and my behavior are not in harmony, I find myself in a conflict. I see that there are things that I couldn't change and I struggle with myself. Maybe I'm also afraid of falling out of the ordinary and being alone.

Well-tried earth: I think feminism also means falling out of the ordinary. How else can we break out of the system? We strive to think contrary and develop behaviors that are consistent with our principles.

Shining star: Either I'm too impatient or the milieu in which I live is too spacious and difficult to change.

Well-tried earth: That is of course very difficult. But we are not trying to apply our insights or the language and behaviors that we have developed all at once. We assume that the other people have not yet become conscious. And we have an important principle: think universally and act locally. With these facts in mind, we try to find a way to make others aware of what we have recognized. We develop methods for this. Otherwise we would start to resent the world. It is not our intention to betray these people, but rather to talk to each other to solve problems. Of course it is difficult to live in a rigid milieu that does not change, despite all our knowledge. But we have made a choice, and despite all the difficulties, we will continue to strive to raise awareness. It's a question of patience and a question of method ...

Shining star: A year ago I was still thinking: "Why does nobody understand me?". But now I am aware that it takes time to speak a common language. The important thing is not to deviate from the values ​​that we have worked for.

Burning sun: I've been thinking about giving up / surrendering. Conflicts, discussions - whatever our oppositional stance is expressed - giving up that means surrender.

Shining star: I know what I want is difficult. But even if it is very exhausting, I did not speak of surrender. On the contrary, it strengthens me and my resistance. More and more people agree with me.

Sand hill: The difficulties arise from our contradictions. We have to find the contradictions in our heads and resolve them.

Burning sun: One solution could perhaps be that, instead of social norms, we put our values, which we defend, in the foreground. I mean: In situations in which, for example, my behavior is directed against the generally accepted hierarchy - towards an older or higher-ranking person - or when I say something that is not expected of me and that meets with counterreactions, then I try to to act in accordance with values ​​such as sincerity and philanthropy in order to resolve the conflict. I take on this fight, but my goal is not to write anything in the water. When we see that we are making progress, we no longer experience exhaustion as badly.

Moving water: Perhaps the day will come when we can say: "It's done now".

Burning sun: But that's not enough. The exhaustion and loneliness that ensues is difficult to bear on your own.

Moving water: If you start to become aware of yourself, you are alone anyway. Doesn't each of us feel homeless from time to time?

Tried and tested earth: Yes, but there is also a new world that we have created. And we're getting more and more. The place where we overcome the feeling of homelessness is where we support each other, is our solidarity. Because the other friendships, sibling relationships and relationships are no longer enough. We have to shape all of these relationships and, above all, friendships anew.

Shining star: I believe that we can all overcome difficulties together and with more and more women together.

Tried and tested earth: You're a little unlucky. Relationships with and among your relatives are very close and you continue these relationships, you don't want to marginalize them. It's tiring. Every day you witness situations that happen next to you and that you do not advocate. So you are always in an ongoing struggle. That exhausts you. This also distinguishes KAMER from other employment relationships. It's not like being employed by the tax authorities. You can't say: the work day is over, I'm home, now work is over. Our work doesn't stop because we are doing something that affects life directly.

Silent flood: It is even more difficult for women academics to be a feminist to become aware of and hold on to.Every person has an ego that he has to overcome, and every person wants to give a certain image to the outside world, which is difficult to maintain. The more one climbs up in society, the more problematic it becomes. The peels that protect our ego and which one has to peel off like an onion are more numerous and more difficult to remove. As an expert, you are visible to society, you give interviews on television and reports to the newspapers. Feminism means not only recognizing the discrimination and violence that others practice and with which we are confronted, but also continually recognizing the discrimination and violence that we ourselves practice. Feminism is a process. It's wrong to say I'm a feminist and I'm done with it.

Tried and tested earth: I think there are two different dispositions. The first is you act this way because you are actually unaware of something. The second is that you are aware of it, but what you think and what you do are two different things. I don't think the first is bad, but the second is bad.

Green leaf: Like a hoax.

Burning sun: In addition, such a person can act like an expert at the same time.

Mountain in the fog: Let's not say hoax. Let's look at our lives before feminism. We too were frauds. You meet up with your boyfriend and tell your mother that I am going to a friend to study. Circumstances compel you to lie. Nobody is open and sincere towards the other.

Green leaf: I talked to my mother about it. I told her the truth, to which she replied that I shouldn't do it again. So the next time I was forced to lie.

Tried and tested earth: Yes, you see, they destroy our wholeness. Your plan, your program, your thought, your feeling is one thing, what you do is something else. On the other hand, there are also feminists who know how to maintain their integrity and who live according to their own decisions, but who criticize without mercy. I know that the areas in which we fight for women's independence cannot be the areas in which we are free. That's how I experienced it. It's a matter of priorities. Time and again there are women who take advantage of these areas that the women's movement has created for their own freedoms and we have all experienced the resulting difficulties. If only we could talk about it! But because that is not possible, we ignore this and say: "Everyone has their own feminism".

Moving water: For these reasons, the idea that "She is a feminist, she does this" has become entrenched.

Silent flood: As far as KAMER's feminism is concerned, there are two important points for me. First, the invitation and encouragement to a never-ending process of becoming aware and questioning. Second, the limitation of one's own area of ​​freedom in order to create areas of independence for other women, to which they also have a right. It is extremely important to recognize the regional characteristics and sensitivities and to respect them.

Sand hill: Or: the window I look out of is different from the one my mother looks out of. To be able to understand her, I have to look where she is looking.

Mountain in the fog: Exercise empathy.

Sand hill: Because changing my mother won't be that easy.

Shining star: Showing feminist behavior and using a judgmental style in support of it, blaming only the men or ignoring everyone - such a simplistic approach belittles and belittles the problem too much. Feminism stands for changing and developing ourselves first and then society as a whole. This must not be forgotten.

Tried and tested earth: Otherwise it only leads to marginalization and hinders socialization.

Machined iron: I don't feel like I belong to anyone or anything at the moment. I don't know how it feels. There are three men by my side: my father, my brother and my husband. They love me and try to treat me well which is why I sometimes think they are genderless. But then I see how much they are like each other! My husband was very different before marriage.

Shelled peanut: I got married thirty years ago. Before that we had lived together for a year and a half. When we got married, I thought, "He will set the world free and me too". He was my hero. He always said to me: "Don't go outside. Stay indoors, you're sick, you've had an operation. It's dangerous outside." He went into business for himself and I dropped out of university for him and stayed at home. When I started going to KAMER, I noticed that he was angry and jealous. Then I told him about KAMER and said that this is the foundation for a new world. Really very nice ... he replied. Where has this extraordinary person gone? Now he's dull and gray.

Green leaf: Shortly after I started working at KAMER, I saw my ex-husband walking across the street. Before the divorce it always seemed huge to me, but now it seemed smaller than me. I said to my mother, "Mother, my ex-husband has completely shrunk, now he's about my size".

Then I understood that it didn't shrink, nor did I grow. Feminism taught me to see everything in its real size.


This article has already been published in Turkish on the Kamer website.