#MeTooTurkey: Bearing Witness to the Sexual Harassment and Oppression Dynamics of Turkey’s Literary Community

The strategies, developed personally or collectively, against sexism, sexual exploitation, and oppression help us find one another while forming the backbone of the feminist movement. The stories narrated within the created queer zone are everybody’s stories. Yet it is quite difficult to take these stories outside the zone: Firstly, you need to decide whether or not the stories which have been accumulated in collective zone should become public, for what is to be told would necessarily entail exposing the perpetrators. Secondly, if you choose to make these stories public, you must carefully anticipate beforehand the ways of resistance you would follow when confronting the consequences of expressing such stories outside the zone. When you begin to speak as a feminist, or as a queer, stepping out of the zone of common stories, you are likely to face vituperative, atrocious, and defamatory reactions. It is of high importance that you determine in advance what sort of stance you would maintain and how you would protect your mental and physical health under such circumstances. Because once you take the story outside the zone as a feminist, or as a queer, you are labeled as “too reactive, too wrathful, too obstinate, too female, too this, and too that.” People immediately assume that you are only chasing popularity, or simply want to cause unease. It is part of the strategy to keep telling the story while enduring all these, and it is necessary to remain undaunted, continuing to take steps -big or small- in the struggle against sexism, racism, sexual exploitation, and oppression.

Here, having stepped out of the zone, I decided to tell you first my own story, and then our collective story in Turkey. This is not a decision I made instantly; this is the outcome of an approximately two-year-long circle of thought-anger-regret-shame, which came strong out of the core of my ideology. Beginning to talk about my own stories in which I experienced sexism, sexual exploitation, and oppression made it possible for the aforementioned processes to occur. I received two types of responses during those two years when I said both to the public on social media and to my close friends “We should begin the #MeToo movement in the literary community already!”: “No, we can’t afford that.” and “It would be great but would anyone speak up?” Let us leave the first type of responses aside for now. As for the second type, somebody had to dice with death, so to speak.

In this essay, I intend to do the following: I will try to portray the sexism, sexual exploitation, and oppression in the literary community/intelligentia in Turkey while telling my own story of becoming an author, a story which consists of the harassments I have been exposed to as well as the things I have witnessed. The essay will be as processual as possible, and I will try to refrain from using an academic language so that the essay fulfills the mission of “making us find one another,” in line with its nature.

I am proud to begin this process which might cause me to get lynched, despised, affronted, and labeled.

I am not concerned about who would stand by and support me after the essay is published because I am an author who has always risked being isolated. Because I know that this movement which is just beginning will eventually become part and parcel of something bigger. Because someone has to tell all these and I, as a feminist, cannot remain “silent” any longer. (It has been around seven months since the essay was first published, and I was not wrong about my predictions. I did go through the processes of getting lynched, despised, affronted, and labeled. I still do.)

 

Analyzing harassment

In her book Living a Feminist Life (p.160) Sara Ahmed says “The word harass, remember, derives from the French harasser, ‘tire out, vex.’ When you speak of harassment you can end up being harassed all over again. Harassment is a network that stops information from getting out by making it harder to get through. It is how someone is stopped by being worn down. What happens to a policy can happen to a person.” The literary community in Turkey is a sector where such a net is most tightly weaved. Therefore, any harassment case someone experiences is talked about, at best, as an outpouring of emotions within the queer zone I mentioned above. –there are many authors, editors, laborers of literature, and academics etc. who either could not enter into or remained unaware of this created zone. It is likely that the sharing within the zone will be reduced to a platform of gossip as the commonly-experienced cases accumulate (for this reason, about the things I have not experienced but witnessed, I am not going to include any information, which does not have credible resources) and wandering around on this platform will perhaps turn into a tool to feel temporary relief for most people. It is quite difficult for those who experienced or witnessed harassment to recover their mental health unless that net is perforated. So, I am/we are now making a hole in that net.

For this, at the beginning, it would be quite helpful to visualize as a diagram the processes of being harassed in the literary community (I call it “literary” here but you can adapt it to different sectors and extend its scope.) as well as the possible outcomes of these processes (Again, you can contribute to the psychological processes; here, I simply take my own experiences as the source.)

Now I will elaborate on this table that I sketched roughly.

 

Experiencing harassment and the harasser

Before categorizing the processes, I thought of the common traits of those in the literary community who exhibit harassment behavior and ended up with the following list:

– Owner of a publishing house

– Owner / chief editor of a magazine

– Editor

– Writer / poet

– Academic

In the universe of publishing, there seems to be a long-standing necessity: Building good relationships.

Young or old, any person of any age who begins to write might yearn to build good relationships while they are still a novice. It seems as though each good relationship would bring another network of relationships and thus they would face less obstacles on the path which they just began to take. It becomes a virtue to be able to say “I know that person, too.” Because the powerholders already intimated that forming relationships with them would pave the way for a world of privileges. When the novice writers/editors/laborers begin a long and challenging climb up to reach these people who think they are on the top, they establish another relationship at each stop, aiming to meet the powerholders much faster and more easily. Depending on the social status of the powerholder, opportunities like having a book published by the relative the publishing house, getting a freelance job, or frequently taking place in the corresponding literary magazines would present themselves to the novice writers. Or at least, this is what the novice authors think would happen since this is what they observed or what others told them to expect. In the equation of “relationships=work,” the poets/authors believe that they coped with most of their problems after becoming friends with an editor who is the decision-maker in a great publishing house (as long as they can maintain this relationship, of course). The perks of successfully getting off the ground or being frequently present in literary communities follow one another. Whoever those powerholders are and whichever social status they hold, the sexist behaviors they exhibit, sexual oppression they enforce, and misconduct they commit when they take advantage of their positions keep accumulating in a lightless room.

Process 1- Evaluation and grasp of whether the behavior is harassment or not, abstaining from classification: This is indeed the secret of this lightless room. The variants like the social status of the harassers, their respectability in literary communities, and the constant approval their works receive prevent us from immediately categorizing the behaviors as harassment when these people exhibit behaviors that discomfort us. First, we cannot bring ourselves to think that they can be harassers: “He is the head of a grand publishing house, who has so many books. Besides my friends like him. So do their friends, and the friends of their friends, too.  I must be exaggerating. I must have misunderstood. He did not mean that. He is nice and respectable.” A touch, a gaze, an implication… I am talking about any move which startles you despite being minor and breaks your body. The thing that leaves you with an awful feeling once it is over. “Oh he’s a bit of a womanizer; oh yeah I was warned about him; oh yeah that was the booze talking, but I’ll let it go.”

“A culture is built around this affection,” says Sara Ahmed in the same text, “which is to say: harassers are enabled by being forgiven, as if their vice is our virtue (p.141).” After beginning to write, the urge to have my writings published enveloped me. The local, small-scale magazines would be good place to start, I thought. I sent a short story to a magazine of this sort, and kept waiting for months. After a while, I sent another email to the magazine, asking about my short story for I wanted to withdraw it were they not to publish it. In the response I received, the editor of the magazine said he would publish my short story if I went to their office to have some tea with him. At that moment, I found myself clueless about what to do after such a response, after all there was no harm in having a cup of tea. But there was something that bothered me? What was it? Was it the overly intimate tone of the content of the response although we did not know each other? Or was it that he responded back by saying “Then, we should have some snacks, together?[1]” when I turned down the first offer. It took me a long while to comprehend the inappropriate behavior I faced:

He was clearly taking advantage of his position, and for me, it was harassment.

Process 2- Abstaining from accusing the harasser: I think this is more about trying to overcome your inner barriers. Yes, he’s a bit of a womanizer, besides I have no proof. Yes, I was warned about him; but it was just something that he recklessly said. Yes, that was the booze talking, and he did caress my leg, but I let it happen, and I have no proof. You do not need to have proof. It is harassment if the behavior creates a startle in the body, or any unpleasant, negative “feeling,” if you did not give consent to any of these, or even when you do not know what was happening and this malicious feeling comes back to you. Even naming the harassment and becoming able to blame the harasser in your mind help to alleviate the impact of the malicious feeling a little.

Process 3- Accusing the harasser and classifying the behavior of harassment: So far, there has not occurred any rays of light in the lightless room. At this point, the experience and personality of the author come into play. If one with the spirit of struggle, who has reached maturity in one’s career after being a novice for a while might carry the guilt and categorize the behavior as harassment, one might leave out some part of the puzzle of relationships and move on. Yet, in a reversed situation, one represses everything and tries not to think about what happened.

In either case, “Process 4- Shock, Shame, Anger,” and other similar negative feelings would begin to consume one from within. As time goes by, one’s daily conversations would turn into as though one were in a boxing ring to take revenge, but when one comes together with the harasser(s), their relationship would continue as usual. Nonetheless, one eventually becomes subaltern, which triggers an inner rebellion. It depends on the person to turn the flame of this rebellion into the fire of revolution. Here, I will narrate some parts of my own experience. The reason why I am not explicitly calling out names is not that I am scared but that I do not think we are ready for #MeToo -since there is not any organized structured against harassment at hand. Earlier in the writing I briefly talked about why we are not ready for such a movement, yet I believe the culture of silence as well as the difficulties the ones who expose the harassers might encounter are crucial enough to be discussed in another essay

When I was working with a boutique publishing house (I find the usage of the word “boutique” problematic. It makes the publishing house too adorable. I, however, witnessed a serious amount of exploitation of labor in many publishing houses known as boutique) –perhaps being there needs to be analyzed with the aid of Marxist theory one day- I had a job at a corporal company while helping the publishing house with editing, proofreading, advertising etc. with no payments in return. It was because I was friends with an editor because of our joint interest in short story, who was “supporting” the boutique publishing house by many ways such as directing book drafts from the old and rooted publishing house where he used to work as an editor -until he was recently fired, to this boutique publishing house where his brother was a co-owner. The boutique publishing house had three more partners, one of whose was an author who was recently expelled from his profession via a decree having the force of law. As a result, he was present at every meeting. I thought that the vocabulary and style of this author/partner –things he uttered with or without other people present- made a disturbing impression, and at the beginning I genuinely disregarded it. But then, I began to see and notice that he was quite imprudent in his behaviors towards me. Over time, it became irritating that he was way too interested in whether or not I had a boyfriend, judgmental about my financial situation (as in “You must have a fair amount of money.”) and attentive to my appearance and outfit. As a result of the things he said about beauty and physical attraction to my face, I went through each stage that I have listed above -with one difference: this author/partner was not part of any network of relationships, there was not any characteristics which “I could not bring myself to think” he might have, I neither had any excuse for nor gained any benefit from maintaining a relationship with him. Now that I look back, I realize that I did not properly react because I did not want to break the peace within the publishing house (I am talking about what peace, though?). What I did in response to his harassments was to silence him, expect some sort of help from other people if anybody is around, and sometimes say to his face that the things he did were disturbing and inappropriate. This was not enough. -The reaction must be major, immediate, and noisy!- The malicious things I felt in my body became so closely associated with him that I had less tolerance to the exploitation of labor I was exposed to at the publishing house. One day, when I demanded a copyrights payment for my three published works, I encountered a highly negative attitude and maltreatment. Yet, for I have already blew the flames of rebellion, I started the fire of revolution and took my payment “forcefully,” so to speak (I guess I was the only author who had been paid for copyrights by that boutique publishing house.) From that moment forward, I became the reason of a harassment gradually extending from the individual to the collective. I was confronted with becoming an object of ridicule in the sexual jokes of the author/partner, and being referred as “the terrorist ringleader” in the emails written in response to the authors who, encouraged by what I did, demanded their own copyrights payments (and all these words were circulating.) I could not react the way I was supposed to react. I knew that I would face these things one day, again, by writing. And now, I told my story even if I did in roughly, deprived of some words. I set myself free from this story.

Talking to someone about the harassment

The processes of assessing together whether or not the behavior one faced was harassment, comprehending the behavior, hesitating to categorize the behavior, becoming able to blame the harasser, talking about the possibility of exposing the harasser, (generally) deciding to not to talk about the harassment any more, and the meeting of the subalterns to create a zone to outpour emotions resemble the everyday TV shows of the early 80s. The show that begins by the gathering of persons, friends, or those who just became acquaintances, moves on to confessions, the discussions on harassment, and collective evaluation the harassment after reciprocal assessments. Only after the accusation is made, the ways of exposing the harasser are taken into consideration. In my experience, the ways of exposing are limited and the process ends failing to become something more than an interpersonal outpouring of emotions. Standing together is amazing, so is knowing that you are not alone. Yet, over time, this collective zone to outpour emotions gets so crowded that the ground begins to tremble. Each harassment remains unsolved, and each malicious behavior lightless. Nobody finds the courage to set fire.

It would help us refresh our memories to list why we do not expose the harassments we were subjected to, why sometimes we do not share them with even one single person, and why we do not make a complaint (once again I did thank Sara Ahmed while I was composing this list in my mind):

  • In case of exposing or making a complaint, you damage your career (you lose the connections that help you advance)
  • You harm (damage the reputation of) the author/poet/editor (whoever is the harasser)
  • You ruin a center, a collective, a publishing house
  • If harassment took place at an institution, the harassment might be kept from the public in order to protect the institution
  • People act like what happened to you never took place, you become invisible, no one talks about it
  • You are thought to be a misfit, people relate your past failures or disagreements to this.

When I told the people who are close to me the experience I narrated above about the author/partner, I learnt that someone else went through a similar incident. It was a serious harassment and the harmful impacts of this bullying remained on not only my friend but also those who know her. What my friend went through further increased the anger within me as well as the bad feelings attached to my body. But it also made me find the courage to write this essay. Well, what now? We will see how many of the things I listed I am going to experience. We must speak up. Even though we might be abandoned for a while, we must speak up and add our own story to the existing ones. I am sure someday somebody will tell “their own” story, as well.

Having left behind the first two processes, I think it would be better to discuss the following processes under a separate title, for it would help us analyze the types of harassment and follow what happened more accurately.

 

Carrying the harassment and Mobbing as a type of harassment in Turkey

Carrying the harassment is followed by “getting used to it” as a process. I shall turn to Sara Ahmed here and directly quote her: “Sexual harassment works—as does bullying more generally—by increasing the costs of fighting against something, making it easier to accept something than to struggle against something, even if that acceptance is itself the site of your own diminishment; how you end up taking up less and less space. It is because we perceive this wall that we end up having to modify our perception (perhaps this is what it means to get “used to it”)” (p.141) by which I refer to the first phase of getting harassed: Understanding, categorizing, admitting. Being able to say yes, I was harassed, and yes, this was harassment can be hard due to “getting used to it”. Because as we carry the harassment with us, the odds of us being harassed again may increase, which makes us become hardened to harassment, and we learn to filter. Hence, it is difficult to carry the harassment, for we do nothing when harassed with a single word and go along, we accumulate the verbal harassments that follow, and become hardened. This results in filtering out the types of harassments that keep aggravating from our daily lives. We do not respond at all to verbal harassment after a while, and draw the line at physical harassment.

Then what? Well I tell you what; a female author friend of mine being raped, by another male author.

Her, not doing anything about this. Yet another female author friend of mine seeking answers in me about the harassment she experienced, saying: “I am a mess, Nazli, and I cannot tell if this was harassment or not, you tell me” while her broken heart and body rest on the couch. Receiving calls in the middle of the night, – outside of a romantic or flirtatious relationship, without arguing the freedom of the individuals to express their sexual desire directly – hearing that a drunk, male author wanting to do you”. I do not know how many other similar incidents I can think of, but tens, hundreds maybe? Then there are “Hey doll/sweetheart/darling” messages on various social media accounts (Most of my female friends mention that they are sick and tired of these messages, and the senders are usually male authors, and the parties usually are not acquainted). I recall the publisher who texted me, offering to publish my book and asking me out, so that he could make a “star” out of me, before my first book appeared and after a local award ceremony (Yaşar Nabi Nayır Gençlik Ödülleri). How ridiculous that was! As if it was possible to be famous and live in glory through writing stories in Turkey, as if books sold hundreds of thousands here… How pathetic of a behavior, and such a misuse of a position. I am angry at myself now, for not reacting louder, for being so naive, so unaware; how little I knew about my own self back then. By writing these lines now, I am also disentangling from another harasser poet, who, around the same period at a lunch, made me sick with his verbally penetrating behavior that he had derived from the word “breast” from one of my stories (Whereas the poet continues to present plaques at award ceremonies).

At this point I would like to step away a little from sexual harassment and exemplify, explain, and disentangle from the phases 1 and 2 (points “Being harassed in an institution, leaving that institution on go a new publisher/job hunt” and “Trying to live with the perception of being non-compliant from others around you due to finding a new publisher/job”) at the table I organized with mobbing, which is another type of harassment.

Mobbing doesn’t require much explaining, in fact, everyone in our day and age is a part of this splendid act and the awareness against mobbing is on the rise. Therefore the definition of it will suffice: “Coming from the root “mob” which means rudeness of crowds often with excessive violence and illegal activity. The word is derived from the Latin word “mobile vulgulus” (…) Mobbing (workplace bullying) means oppressing someone with psychological violence, by siding against, giving discomfort or harassing them (…) It is also mobbing when someone abuses their power or position to systematically oppress, harass, humiliate or threaten another, and when a person is being targeted to disrespectful and harmful behavior and is forced to quit by the creation of a hostile environment where they are subjected to social degradation by the implications and mockery of their employer. Mobbing is an intentional act to force someone out of the workplace notwithstanding their age, gender or race.

 

A Mobbing Story: Bullying and Me

Throughout the years when I worked in corporations, I was subjected to mobbing twice. The first time, I only grasped what had happened to me after I quit, and at the second I was experienced. I did everything that needed to be done, sought my rights and – good news – I won. Three years ago, I decided to leave corporate jobs for good and made the radical decision of getting by only through writing and art. However, I came to the realization that within the literary community that I worked later on, I was more vulnerable, open to mobbing -which I will further refer to as bullying – and that I could not take solid steps, establish strict rules, or go for exposure like I did in corporate. Why?

Sara Ahmed says: “ If anything, in having more experiences of killjoying, more of a sense of how wearing it can be, you learn from this experience of not getting through” (p.173) I was the killjoy, the non-compliant, the one that had been declared the leader of the gang for seeking her rights. When I started to work with another publishing house, I experienced “Trying to live with the perception of being non-compliant from others around you due to finding a new publisher/job”. Because people could write about it openly at forums like Ekşisözlük: “I don’t understand why she keeps changing publishers, I heard she was non-compliant and cranky” The entry was deleted about two years ago, and I do not know the person who had written it. Was it because I was being seen as “problematic” that I could not fight back? But again, why?

I will not count the editorial stages that follows the approval of your book by a publisher -In Turkey as it is, there are few publishing houses that offer good editing services, and few individuals with good editing skills. I had just begun to work on the book with the editor I was assigned to when I was addressed in a shocking manner. Since the work was comprised of short stories, we were looking at each story separately. Until that shocking moment, there had been an editor-author dialogue based on respect and business between us, or so I thought. I had worked on some stories and sent him notes, and asked, “When could you return about these?” The answer was quite offensive, written in an aggressive tone and saying I was not his only work. I carried this incident up to the boss and the chief editor of the publishing house. The editor was warned and we continued to work (After this I encountered many issues regarding organization and ethical publishing with the publishing house, but this is not the place to tell the rest).

The book got published. About eight months passed. I was ready for an editor and a chief editor to work with on the next book. I was approved again -to present a first draft to the editorial board after working with an editor on it. Right at this point, I ruined the fun again. I realized that the copyright percentage I got from the first book that had gotten published from that house was less than many other (non-bestseller) authors and the average percentage in the market. The truth is if you do not write mainstream, you would mostly get 10% for copyrights. This percentage for a book sold at the 13-17 lira range brings around 1200-1300 liras after tax. I am telling all these to highlight the silliness of the amounts we have to fight for (Since for most writers the important thing is that the copyright, meaning the labor is being compensated, being “payed”, not the amount). So I referred to this and asked: “Could we revise my copyright ratio for the second book and bring it around to the market standard?” I am talking about a 200 liras (35 dollars) worth of difference here. Whether I need that money or not, I repeat the argument that the amount does not matter. I only wanted “fairness” when I asked this, and I still do. Acting before the chief editor, returning to me the quickest was of course my editor. All that happened after that was bullying. I was accused of seeking profit, being a businessperson (for wanting justice), threatened with redundancy if I continue objecting the copyright ratio I was offered (for wanting justice). The chief editor who saw the response called me and anxiously apologized on behalf of the editor. Intense conversations followed, but I could not find resolution. I shut down.

The reason why I tell this incident, why I think this is important is because it brings us to the points of phases 3 and 4 ““Fear of being harassed again” and “being harassed again” and being stuck in a vicious cycle as a subaltern as a result. What follows is two contrasting paths; the person will self-update as either continuing shut down and hurt, or gaining awareness and stubbornness, therefore keep being a killjoy. Although I went through phases 3 and 4 again and again, I hadn’t snapped yet. I now borrow the “snap” from Ahmed: “When you don’t take it, when you can’t take any more of it, what happens? The moment of not taking it is so often understood as losing it. When a snap is registered as the origin of violence, the one who snaps is deemed violent. She snaps. You can hear the snap in the sound of her voice. Sharp, brittle, loud; perhaps it is like the volume has suddenly been turned up, for no reason; the quietness that surrounds her ceases when she speaks, her voice cutting the atmosphere, registering as the loss of something; a nicer atmosphere, a gentler mood. And then: violence is assumed to originate with her. A feminist politics might insist on renaming actions as reactions; we need to show how her snap is not the starting point.” (p. 189)

Right when I lost control, I found a new rudder. The route was direct.

As long as I carried on with the presence of the values I set for myself, I was bound to be described as a cranky, killjoy figure in the sector. If so, my goal was to be a better killjoy.

Without the need of any individual or any institution, as myself alone, I had to develop a feminist queer skill set. Endeavoring to exist as a wild, strong and annoying individual among white straight male forces was my snap. It was my historical moment. Nobody could hurt me. Nobody could harass me. Because I had found my voice. I had snapped to make the noise I had not before, in the face of all the other times when I was harassed than I wrote above. I was alone when it snapped; I, alone, had enlightened that lightless room, and moved what I saw into the queer collective spaces. I had seen my snap, there was a wire in me, I saw it thin out and sparkled as it snapped. I had seen from above, the circle in which everyone maintained their relations as pals, handing out prizes and praises to one another. I had realized, I did not want to stand either in or out of that circle. Right there, I had discovered the language I could not unearth for years. The history of stubborn languages (Ahmed, 260) had appeared to me. I laid out a family tree, found each and every one of my grandmothers and sat on my feminist legacy. I created an alternate family, on my own, the snap had brought strength along with it, and I, as a cranky writer updated myself.

 Tyranny/oppression of the female bullies

We can foresee, rather accurately, what the patriarchal and masculine structure of Turkey’s literary community, where all kinds of harassment are supported may bring out. I find it significant to give our attention to another pillar that feeds this system. The one composed of the women of this system. Just to keep a clear mind, here’s what comes out when I list the behavior of women who are the feed to the established patriarchal system: They set their network well, establish their interests, build the strategic map of their careers directly on patriarchy, do not want to see the harassment taking place, have not had the “snap” yet, or do not want the snap, do not need the snap, ignore and keep quiet about the harassments they witnessed; they are inclined to ease what happened by making gossip material out what they see or are told, they talk behind powerful men but act as if their loyal dogs in public spaces later on and aren’t trustable due to such behavior, they embrace the “manly” act to exist in the men’s world –I’m a manly woman, I can use sexist slur, look, I am like you, I drink at the same table with you and speak ill of other women – they are usually heterosexual and most importantly they are inclined to harass. As in individuals who identify as woman harassing their colleagues.

Since I encountered what is told above, after my snap, making noise to aside, the harassment I was subjected to was so hilarious that all I could do was to laugh out loud. Insults that a female author who tried to write and stay alive after forty had thrown on her social media about me, while didn’t even know each other properly or even communicated whatsoever, made me smile, instead of hurt. Poor woman who tried hard to create space where she could insult me by relating my outfit, makeup and accessories to my writing, had obviously found the right level for herself with the wide range of adjectives she used referring to me. I do not know what I had found strange more though, but it was either that I didn’t have a clue about the source of her hatred, or that she literally raged from afar but never said anything to my face. While it was known by many that she had won she prize that she won through the efforts of the person with power she leaned on, her harassing my body, my character and my writing one night all of a sudden entered my personal list of harassment types as a different sort of violence. I met and chat with many women like her, and chose not to maintain a relationship to keep out of the circle that I do not want to get in. I saved all the bullying by women before and after the snap, but this issue is the subject another article.

 

Does exposure relieve?

Exposing the harassment is the last main phase of the table, end of the line. If you talk, you’ll be exiled. You will be ostracized from our holy sanctuary, you’ll be thrown in among cisgender men and women of social media, and lynched alive. At this point being harassed again and again becomes a reality. People assume that you exposed your harasser because you want attention, you will be labelled, and nobody wants to play with you. No journal or publisher wants to feature your writing. Did you suffer all that for a purpose that never even began? Who are you now? I can hear the voices in your head, see your eyes scared of exposure part, you, who can’t sleep at night.

Exposure means #metoo since 2017. “Several female actors claimed that Hollywood’s most powerful movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein had sexually abused and coerced them, resulting in him being let go by both his own company and the Oscar Committee. Everyone in the sector seemed to know about what was going on, but it was deliberately overlooked. Weinstein’s exposure made noise and those who abused the power they possessed sat on the agenda. Actor Anthony Rapp claimed through the online magazine BuzzFeed that House of Cards lead actor Kevin Spacey had made unwanted sexual advances toward him when he was 14. Author Anna Graham Hunter wrote in Hollywood Reporter column “Dustin Hoffman Sexually Harassed Me When I Was 17,” recounting her experience as an intern on the set of the 1985 film Death of a Salesman. During her rousing speech at the Golden Globes Awards ceremony in 2018 “For too long women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up,” the talk show host Oprah Winfrey said.”  As I cannot wait for these to happen in Turkey’s literary community, I also know that the snap has a long way to arrive here. For exposing alone does not suffice. The exposer has to guarantee being surrounded by united people. I mean mobilization.

Harassed or not, union of individuals who, with theory, with text, with will and with respect, are able to stand against the patriarchal system that keeps recreating itself. That is my dream.

The realization of my dream may take a while. Nevertheless, starting it includes both me writing this article, and you reading it. The launch is only possible when we can say “Me too!”, when people who share their experiences increase and unite, through the resistance of snaps. I dream of an environment where a man can tell another man oppresses him – because I know it is not only women who are harassed. Giving out names is only possible when we reach that mobilized organization. I feel we yearn for listening to one another, for creating that queer space. All of you that could or could not still open up to someone, I hope after reading this you will rewrite your harassment diary, and end the pattern. I shared my experiences and what I witnessed to make that possible, it happened to me, it can happen to you too; maybe it already did, so I say tell me about it. I believe that an individual who harassed and bullied one single person is highly likely to do all that to another. While the world of art is hard enough of a place to survive in, we should not be left alone to disappear in the lightless room of the ancient system, and therefore I make noise.

            We are here, and we do not accept harassment and tyranny. Get used to it.

Thanks to Eylül Doğanay and Yaprak Damla Yıldırım for the translation process of this exhausting text.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

Sara Ahmed. Living a Feminist Life. Duke University Press. 2017.

 

[1] The direct translation of the original expression in Turkish is “Then, we should eat some sunflower seeds?” Eating sunflower seeds has a condescending undertone of mockery here.

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