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Turkish Women Defy Government And Laugh

Across Social Media, Turkish Women Smile With Pride

Women across Turkey have posted pictures on social media of themselves laughing and smiling, in response to a comment made by Turkey’s deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc. In a speech on Monday the deputy Prime Minister said that ‘Chastity is so important’ and that the chaste woman ‘will not laugh in public,’ that for a woman to laugh in public was a sign of moral corruption.

The backlash from Turkey’s online female community was immediate and widespread, with thousands posting pictures of themselves laughing and smiling on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags #kahkana (Turkish for laughter) and #direnkahkana (resist laughter).

Users also highlighted the absurdity of Mr. Arinc’s comments by posting pictures of Emine Erdogan, wife of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, smiling and laughing in public – as well as pictures of Mr. Arinc himself laughing. Fatah Portakal, a prominent Turkish television presenter, went further in pointing out the hypocrisy of Mr. Arinc’s statements by saying that ‘if women can’t laugh in public, then men should not cry in public’ – a reference to Mr. Arinc’s tendency to tear up when listening to speeches by Prime Minister Erdogan.

The Deputy Prime Minister’s response to the protests did little to curb the outrage, saying that the women involved were the type who ‘despite being married with kids go on holiday with their boyfriends’ and  ‘never miss a chance to wrap themselves around a dancing pole,’ who ‘tried to attract attention with alcohol and such fake laughter.’

The protest has even spread offline, with some Twitter users encouraging Turkish women to gather in the streets of the capital at 9 pm for public laughter; a suggestion which was endorsed by Aylin Nazliaka, a local politician for the opposition Republican People’s Party.

Turkey’s current government doesn't have an outstanding track record when it comes to women’s rights. Last year Prime Minister Erdogan referred to abortion as ‘murder,’ a statement which prompted a similar social media backlash with many women uploading photographs of their stomachs with the caption ‘My body, my decision.’ Commentators have suggested that officials should focus on the fact that 40% of women in Turkey have suffered from domestic violence and that 120 women have been killed so far this year, mainly by partners or family members, rather than on how much women laugh in public.

The use of social media in expressing public dissatisfaction in the country has sharply increased recently, due primarily to the protests centred around Taksim Gezi Park last year. During the mass demonstrations, which involved over seven million people across Turkey and resulted in 22 deaths, the government refused to allow the event to be acknowledged on television or radio and so citizens were forced to turn to social media to communicate with one another and to keep up to date on developments across the country.


Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Turkish Women Defy Government And Laugh Reviewed by Anonymous on Friday, August 01, 2014 Rating: 5
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