Academic journal article Kadin/Woman 2000

The Development of a Feminist Discourse and Feminist Writing in Turkey: 1970-1990

Academic journal article Kadin/Woman 2000

The Development of a Feminist Discourse and Feminist Writing in Turkey: 1970-1990

Article excerpt


In this article, I shall present the following issues: First, the development during the 1970s against a highly politicized background, when the anti-feminist, socialist ideology hindered a free development of an independent feminist discourse. Second, the development during the 1980s against the background of the Coup of September 1980, when the development of a feminist discourse was stripped of its political environment. Third, the general biographical background of the Turkish women writers, and the major conflicts and contradictions these women experienced due to their background, including an enumeration of the main issues. Based on this analysis, the development of 'feminist literature' during the 1970s is described against the background of political polarization and the context of the 'politicized female intellectual'. The development of 'feminist literature' during the 1980s is presented against the background of the Coup of 1980 and four highly dynamic forces in the context of the 'individual women ' and the 'turn towards the self'.


Turkiye'de 1970'li yillardaki yogun politik atmosferde feminist soylemin ozgur gelisimi anti-feminist ideolojiler--ozellikle de sosyalistler- tarafindan engellenmistir. Bu donemdeki kadin yazarlarin eserlerinde bu politik havanin etkisi dogal olarak hissedilir. Bu nedenle de onlarin ele aldigi kadin tiplerini 'politize olmus kadin aydinlar' olarak vasiflandirmak yanlis olmaz sanirim. Ancak 12 Eylul 1980'deki askeri darbeden sonra olusan politikadan uzak atmosfer, feminist soylemin isine yaramis ve 80'li yillar feminizmin Turkiye'de hiz kazandigi, donem olmustur. Bu donemde uretilen eserlerde kadinlarin artik 'birey' olarak ele alindigini goruruz. Ilginc olan sudur ki, buyuk cogunlugu ayni yetisme tarzi ve aile yapisina sahip olan ve Turk kadininin sorunlarini eserlerinde isleyen bu yazarlar - birkaci disinada-kendilerinin 'feminist' sifatiyla anilmasini istemez.


When the Turkish Republic was founded in 1923 the president, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, initiated a radical reformist programme ("The Six Arrows") in order to demonstrate that the new Turkish Republic was quite the opposite of the former Ottoman Empire: a modern, civilised and secular nation which belonged to the Western World.

As part of "Secularism," which is one of "The Six Arrows", Ataturk's government "prepared the most radical 'women's revolution' ever attempted in Muslim-Mediterranean societies." (1) In 1924 women were granted equal status with men under the new Constitution of the Republic, and the Civil Code, which came into force in 1926 and gave women 'almost' complete legal equality with men. According to the Civil Code, however, the husband remained the head of the family and the wife still needed his consent to work outside the family-home. In 1930 Turkish women were given the right to vote in local elections, and in 1934 they received the right to vote and to be elected in national elections.

It is important to keep in mind that although Turkish women had more rights than most women in other Western countries at the time, they had neither asked for them, demanded them, nor had they fought for them. It was a role and an identity, which Kemalism had superimposed on them. Therefore, "it has frequently been suggested that the granting of extensive rights to women in Turkey, without their having had to struggle for them, has been an important factor in the women's slowness in taking up these rights." (2)

It is also important to remember that it was only a very small, privileged group of elite-women from the urban upper class who were able to take full advantage of the new laws. They became the exemplary "New Daughters" of the Turkish Republic, who were respected and honoured because they were "educated, hod professions, and practised them without ignoring their traditional duties both as supporting and obedient wives and good mothers" (3). …

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