Responding to Those Men Who Strongly Feel That Women Should Be Quiet and Not Draw Attention to Themselves in Public

“The only way to a man’s happiness is if his wife is a housewife.”

“Women aren’t as strong as men so they shouldn’t walk around or travel by themselves.”

“What’s the point of your knowing so many people? You’re female.”

“It’s very bad for women to work because this will mislead women to think they are strong enough to be out in the world.”

“If more women went out to work, this will decrease productivity because men won’t be able to focus on their work.”

“Women were requested by God to have babies. That is why they are here.”

This came from a young man who used to be a student of mine. His viewpoint reflects the viewpoint of almost every man in Turkey as I’ve also been often told that Turkish men will never want me as a partner (except as someone they can sleep with to increase their feeling of masculinity).

This viewpoint is one that I’m currently analyzing as I strongly feel that men who deeply feel that this viewpoint is true are probably delicate (as opposed to being strong as they want people to believe).

It’s also often been said that Westerners encouraging women to dream big and do something great is not okay for the Turkish people to adopt as ‘it goes against Turkey’s cultural values’.

I still remember even young women (not all, of course — not at all) who block out anything that I bring up (e.g. traveling or any discussion of another country) that they are taught goes against their cultural values.

I’ve frequently been told what was the point of knowing about other countries, even that many countries exist in the world when there’s no desire in many people to travel or that it was irrelevant to know about other cultures as other cultures ‘had nothing to do with theirs’.

Actually, knowing about how people somewhere else in the world live and how what they do works and how much their economies and behaviors with each other have improved to create safer societies and more life satisfaction are legitimate reasons to know about other cultures. Being inspired by other cultures, to discover the potential that other people have that certainly people in one country certainly have too are not cultural threats.

As every year passes, I like to think that progress is made. I like to think that as time passes, people become more aware, people are always talking about and discussing something new.

To hold on to traditional roles for men and women while a country is building more entertainment venues, expanding transport systems, digging up the soil in order to make way for more housing, more modern facilities for shopping and recreation doesn’t make sense. To insist that men are all-powerful in the household and to waver from this position is a sign of insecurity. For most of the men that insist that everyone in their home obey them, including their partners, drips weakness to me, in fact. To dismiss their partners’ suggestions and preferences because they don’t earn an income (as I’ve been told that whomever earns the money should dominate the household; and, as women are often not encouraged to work, men often assume this role) is morally wrong as it places more value on certain activities more than others, such as working to earn money ends up having more value than keeping a clean home for no money at all — why?).

Why should women be limited to a role that is perceived as one that isn’t valued by most of a society? Regardless of whether or not it’s perceived as tradition (again, if a country were so loyal to its traditions, why is American pop music heard everywhere and Hollywood films played in cinemas and American companies like Starbucks and McDonald’s are prevalent?), women aren’t seen as having a voice, a say. Period. There’s no denying this. When most people practice this traditional gender roles in a society, when they perceive the man’s word as being the last word, the only word, then it’s clear that women aren’t treated well and that these men need women not to have their own opinions, or to keep quiet about them in order to make themselves feel good, more secure.

How is this a strong society? Men can certainly be much stronger if they were challenged. If women were encouraged to seek any work and educational opportunity as they please, have more world knowledge, then they can certainly benefit the men by intellectually challenging them. Right? Women can offer a whole lot of ideas that perhaps men don’t see. If men took women’s perspectives on issues seriously, men would certainly be more enlightened — and vice versa.

At least, women’s voices should be heard. At least, what women know should be taken seriously. At least, women’s opinions should be given fair listening and consideration. At least, the mind of a woman should be valued and not only her body. Women are also in the world, like men, to be active participants in this world and their sole purpose isn’t only to give birth and to revolve their minds on raising children but, also, to work alongside men to create protect the environment, improve education, produce anything that can benefit the world, etc.

Women are born with the ability to think and to learn like men so they are also meant to speak, to contribute to important decisions.

Who has ever decided that a man’s mind is of higher value than a woman’s? What does physical strength have to do with the power and potential of the mind? Women’s and men’s minds are equally powerful; when both genders will their minds for something to happen, or when they will t heir minds to do something, to achieve something, the results are both equally remarkable.

If men and women were really perceived as being of equal value, then both men and women should be allowed to speak to and teach the masses.

Author of ‘A Girl All Alone Somewhere in the World’, ‘Confessions and Thoughts of a Girl in Turkey’, ‘From Just a Girl Grown Up in America’. (Amazon.com)