Kareteci Kız

This got posted by a friend on Facebook and I nearly died laughing.


I enjoy the title because it sounds quite like the “Karate Kid” and I love me some Mr. Miyagi. I prefer the one with Hilary Swank, which works here since she’s a Kareteci Kız. Also, the thought of a Turkish version of the Karate Kid would probably be spectacular. It would also likely be very sad, and would end with the brutal murder of every main character.There would be  a lot of shots of Ataturk, who would be revealed at some pivotal point to have been an excellent Karate master, freshly inspiring the main character to follow through and prevail. But, like I said, he will die a cold death anyway.

After watching the clip above I was curious, so I googled the film and was brought to the IMDB page which reveals the following:

Zeynep lives with his old father. She has lost her ability to speak because of an accident. She needs an operation in order to be able to talk again. One day, five prison fugitives come to their house and kill Zeynep’s father. The fugitives take their money and attack Due to the shock, Zeynep regains her ability to speak. The fugitives are arrested but Zeynep wants to take revenge, therefore she says that the fugitives are not the ones who have attacked them. The police appoints Murat to make her give a statement. Murat teaches her how to use a gun and some karate, but she still doesn’t know he is a cop. They fall in love and decide to get married. On their wedding, the prisoners kill Murat. Nothing can stop Zeynep now from taking revenge. She becomes a policewoman and traces the fugitives one by one.

Gender confusion and comically short/incomplete sentences aside, this description is interesting. I have the following comments:

  1. Why does she need to lose the ability to speak?
  2. Under what circumstances would a presumably psychosomatic speech problem be curable through surgery?
  3. Yay extra-judicial justice!
  4. Why is a police officer teaching a crime victim how to use a gun?
  5. Why does he know karate?
  6. Of course they want to get married. Of course.
  7. What is on that guy’s face? Is this like that horrible shaved eyebrow craze? It kind of reminds me of Seneca Crane in the Hunger Games:


Right? Right?


Turks and Tampons

I recently sent a piece over to Perking the Pansies blogger Jack Scott. He’s on holiday and was looking for other Turkey-based bloggers to fill the gaping hole left by his absence.


My third Guest blogger is Alexandra from Death by Dolmuş. Alexandra is a Yankee lass who teaches in Istanbul. She writes about the quirky side of life in the ancient city and has a mild obsession with public transport. Alexandra also publishes an amazing photoblog. If you don’t like discussions about women’s itty bitty parts, don’t read the following (oh, go on).


There are strange things that occur in Turkey. I am pretty on top of most of it, but from time to time things do catch me off guard. I’m unfazed when a man brings a 12 foot (4 meter) ladder into an over-packed dolmuş(roughly 5 meters long itself.) I’m unfazed when my bank calls to ask permission of my employer when I wish to close my account (obviously a mere mortal like me can’t be trusted with such a serious decision.)

I was caught off guard when my colleague, a punk, riot-grrrl feminist with red hair (not Irish red, but like, the color red) and combat boots, moans to me, doubled over in pain, ‘Gahh, I wish I hadn’t left the window open last night.’ It had been a sweltering 80 degrees (25 C) and I couldn’t understand what that had to do with her abdominal pain. ‘The wind, the night air, you know, it gives me cramps.’ Efendim?

Now, I’m fairly certain that cramps are caused by your uterine walls contracting to expel the lining. But, you know, who can say for certain…

I was constantly appalled by the lack of knowledge these university educated women displayed about their own bodies and the science contained in them. I know Freud thought that hysteria (that vague, female-ish complaint) was caused by a ‘disturbance’ to the uterus, but I’m pretty sure somewhere in my 6th grade sex-ed class, I remember learning something different…

As I was moving out, I had an enormous amount of tampons that my roommate and I had hoarded like we were preparing for the apocalypse. God knows when we would be able to find tampons again, so every time we ventured out of the Islamic Republic of Turkey, we bought up the store like they were going out of style.

Not having space in my luggage for 47 boxes of Tampax Pearls, and with the confidence that I could pick some up any time nature called at my nearest pharmacy (that’s a chemist’s for you Brits), when back in the US, I decided to give them away. Because honestly, who doesn’t like free tampons? Apparently, Turkish women.

So that’s how I found myself, on my last day of work, sitting in a locked office with my colleague, demonstrating how to use a tampon. I unwrapped it, showed how the applicator worked, as she dissected the tampon I had handed her, checking that the string was in fact well secured at the center. I extolled the tampon’s virtues: you can go swimming! (Her face lit up, what do you mean? She asked in disbelief.) You can wear white pants with no fear! Thinking back to all those tampon commercials of my youth, you can go shopping with your fresh-faced friends and laugh to your heart’s desire while spinning around in circles to demonstrate your new-found freedom!

International Women’s Day

Today is Mardi Gras, and while revelers in New Orleans shake their boobies for crowds, let’s pause for a moment to remember that it is also International Women’s Day.

On the bus from Ankara about two weeks ago, there were three of us, leading to an unfortunate seating arrangement that put my colleague in the seat behind myself and our mutual friend. Luckily, she’s a chatty Kathy and she quickly made friends with the woman seated next to her. The woman was very conservatively dressed, and was accompanying two foreign women who were also quite conservatively dressed.

There are different levels of covering that go on here. Some women are as comfortable bearing their skin as your average American teenager. Others opt for high collared shirts and nothing shorter than knee length. For the more religiously observant, there are varying levels of covering. One woman I met vacillates between covering her hair and having it done at the coiffeur’s, while others donne floor-length trench coats over long skirts, and top it off with a brightly colored silk scarf that is neatly wrapped around their hair and neck. There are also those who have chosen the “Saudi” look, for even here, they’re referred to as Saudis: its the all black, head-to-toe look required in some of the world’s more autocratic nations.

The women on the bus were nursing students at a university in Ankara, something that only recently would have forced them to choose between their headscarves and their education. The two asian women were from Indonesia, they spoke lovely Turkish and were also nursing students. The jury is still out on how and why women from Indonesia would speak Turkish, but the internationality of it all struck me.

Turkey is an interesting place that people try to characterize as wedged between east and west. I think this designation misses the mark spectacularly for the simple reason that Turks are Turks. Turkey is a muslim country to be sure, but they are about as similar to the Arab nations as Greece is to Norway: yes, they’re historically of the same religion, though the brand they practice is different, but ultimately the similarities stop there. That said, Turkey has some major issues it needs to work out, and this being International Women’s Day, I’ll focus first on women’s rights.

A report was recently released that shows how under-educated, under-utilized women in Turkey remain, even today. Violence against women has increase a frightening amount in the past few years, and there seems to be little the government is doing to protect women from their partners. The media glorifies the rage and passion of the male assaulter/murderer, and plays up the moral shortcomings of the women in question. The photos depict only the woman, often the perpetrator’s name is withheld from the press, while the woman’s is published for all to see, and judge. There are currently 5 women murdered each day in Turkey. And while this is not all caused by domestic violence, the numbers aren’t looking good: violence against women has increased 1,400% in the last seven years.

“One in every three women in Turkey is exposed to domestic violence and 40 percent of them accept this situation as normal,” said Aydeniz Alisbah Tuskan, the head of the Istanbul Bar Association’s Women’s Rights Center. “The problem lies in the fact that abused women are afraid their financial support would be cut if their husbands go to jail.”–Ipek Ekmeksiz

This is an issue in every country of the world. It’s something that crosses borders and transcends race and religion. I was surprised earlier today when I laid eyes on a student of mine who had what looked to be a nasty black eye. Upon closer inspection, it became clear that she was wearing makeup. She and two friends had put on fake bruises and cuts and were handing out pamphlets around school about International Women’s Day. In a country where I have seen tough social issues buried time and time again, I was thrilled to see these female students tackling something head on.

There needs to be a paradigm shift, and women are essential, but the macho ethos of the men here needs to change. And quick,

Traditional perceptions of women as long-suffering wives and self-sacrificing mothers need to be challenged, but so does a construction of masculinity based on violence and tough talk. What makes a man choose to kill his wife rather than grant her a divorce? His act will destroy the entire family unit, cause lasting trauma to his children and land him in jail. And why do so many men resort to physical abuse to resolve minor domestic dispute?– Nicole Pope

Women in Turkey are the matriarchs, they care for their families the way a lioness does for her own. They’re a powerful, opinionated bunch. They’ll tell you what’s what, and they’ll not hold back. This is what Turkey needs, a powerful, articulate group of individuals to grab violence by the balls, to demand the respect of their peers and to instill that respect in their children. But, a lot still needs to change. I am optimistic that things in Turkey are on the up and up. The question is will the women demand what is rightfully theirs? Will the men realize what useless children they would become without the women in their lives? Will an open dialogue begin?

Today is International Women’s Day, and I am a woman. Today, my lovely cousin personified the glory of the female condition and gave birth to her first son.Today is a good day, but let’s make tomorrow better.

For more:

Turkish women blames police after beating from husband

Equal opportunity top issue on Int’l Women’s Day