A Novelist, columnist & playwright

Keep Your Hands, Ideas and Politics Off Our Bodies!

While the women are protesting against the government’s decree concerning themselves with the words “This body is mine;” Meltem Arıkan, who is on the agenda with her recent book “The Body Knows” and her play “I’m Breaking the Game” invites all women to break the game.

16 Mart 2008 | Akşam Newspaper Sunday Exstra, Seda Kaya Güler

While the women are protesting against the government’s decree concerning themselves with the words “This body is mine;” Meltem Arıkan, who is on the agenda with her recent book “The Body Knows” and her play “I’m Breaking the Game” invites all women to break the game.

The prime minister suggests all women that “They should bear at least three children.” The Minister of Health stands by this opinion, saying that “Birth control is the invention of those who want to eradicate us.” The Minister of Women’s Issues approves this, saying “Tony Blair said the very same thing when he was the Prime Minister of the UK. What is the problem with this statement?” The Minister of Labour and Social Security annuls the decree in the new legislation where “All the employees are supposed to have a children’s day-care centre.” The Directorate of Religious Affairs declares feminist women to be immoral, saying that “Feminism does not fit in the boundaries of morality.” Is there any need to even ask “What does all of these mean?” But if there are those who do ask, and do not comprehend our government’s perspective of women, this interview is for them…

My guest is Meltem Arıkan, who works on subjects like body language, incest, rape and harassment; deals with these subjects on her books. One of her books, “Stop Hurting My Flesh” was banned because of these subjects, and later she was awarded the Turkish Publishers Association’s “Freedom of Statement and Idea Award.”

What does “You should bear three children” mean?

The women are wanted to be locked up in the house. They are to bear at least three children, thus will be imprisoned within four walls. There will be women in business life no more, they will be silenced as a result of being economically dependent on their husbands, and while they will be awaiting for the promised heaven, being the “Holy Mothers”, they will be condemned to live hell in this world.

A subject that has started to be questioned by the feminists after the women’s movement in the 80’s. Are we obliged to these?

Unfortunately, the policy pursued by the government started to seem like an horror scenario to us. It is not only limited to the Prime Minister’s statement, if you will take a look at the social security reform, you will see that women is intended to be rendered dependent, being canalised into marrying at an early age, and her social rights within the context of business life are both being ignored and tried to be diminished perpetually. On the top of it all, does the statement of the Directorate of Religious Affairs not basically tell it all?

Yes, the Directorate of Religious Affairs and the government keep on reprehending everybody on minding their own businesses and not talking about matters that do not concern themselves; so on what ground they are making the declaration that “Feminism is immorality?”

In my opinion, that is the actual subject that has to be opened to discussion. This is the fruit of the gynophobia of the mindset that perseveres to enslave us.

You deal with this subject in your latest book.

Because women and men have to deal with fears in their existential process – fears that arise from circumstances that threaten their existences and are based on true reasons. Yet, women and men can perceive the threat in a different manner. Some fears though, are common for both genders.

You mean…

Men start out from the necessity that societies have to be frightened in order to sustain the patriarchy. The main tools for frightening are used by the patriarchal system, namely the mechanism of the state, the army and the police force; are for the sustainability of traditional manner and behaviours, and for the sake of protecting the morality. The patriarchal society utilises religion as a mean of control as well, making it impossible for individuals to practice their beliefs by themselves.

Women can disturb the order!

Why are women afraid of themselves?

They are concerned that they may disturb the society’s family order if they give prominence to their femininity. This is because they have all been frightened in terms of their femininity since their childhood, by the patriarchy with the help of religion.

This is the reason for the wanting the veil!

Men forcing women to veil themselves is an initial step in killing any demands of freedom they may have. So when women accept and internalise that they may turn men on and cause them to go astray, the continuity of that initial step is thus ensured. Can the underlying reason be to hide the fact that the one who has the possibility of breaking down the patriarchal system of our world is indeed women?

So, why can women not be aware of that?

Wouldn’t fears of this sort effectively prevent women’s awareness on this particular area? How come men living together with unveiled women for centuries have not been assaulting the women and raping them, yet in societies where women and men are forced to live in separate social circles, women are a perpetual element of risk for men? It is not only the women who is being frightened here. Men are also being frightened, with the claim that women have the potential to seduce them.

So you’re saying that women are not afraid of men, but men are afraid of women!

There is no fear induced in women of men, who have the potential to rape them. Yet, even thought they do have the potential to be the rapist, fear of women is induced in men! When you have a look at the ideologies, you will see that they are all devised by men, in order to sustain the patriarchal social order. As a result, women are left with no choice but to play the partial role that is assigned by men to them in this game. But, since this century, women have been starting to object being a mannequin in every aspect of life.

Let’s Break the Game

Women want to exist…

We may say that women grew tired of talking the male language, or trying to achieve success by imitating men. It is not possible for men to be actual men, unless women are actually women. And I do not accept to live in a world like this, which the patriarchal mindset has forged into a chaotic mess with their concepts, feeding the anger and the hatred.

So you’re breaking the game?

Yes, I want the heaven in this real world where I exist with my body, instead of the heaven promised to me by the patriarchal mindset. I know that it is possible to build up a delightful world where women and men live aware of their differences, with their natural sexual identities. And thus, I am adamant on to fight for a change in the world towards this goal. For this reason, I ask all the women to rebel and deny the concepts imposed upon us by the patriarchal mindset. And the first step for rebellion is to say “I’m Breaking the Game” out loud and choose not to be a part of this game.

Is that the reason you wrote “I’m Breaking the Game?”

Yes. I invite everyone who is curious on how to break the game to come to garajistanbul and watch the play “I’m Breaking the Game.”