Emancipated but Unliberated? Reflections on the Turkish Case Author(s): Deniz A.

Kandiyoti and Deniz Kandiyoti Source: Feminist Studies, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Summer, 1987), pp. 317-338 Published by: Feminist Studies, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3177804 Accessed: 05/12/2010 04:18
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Western feminist theory has often been castigatedfor its ethnocentrismbut has rarelybeen subjectedto an explicitexamination to from the point of view of its relevance and applicability nonWesterncontexts.Conceptsgeneratedby Westernfeministshave rarely been applied to informed analyses of women in Islamic societies;conversely,the experiencesof women underIslamhave not been systematicallyused to criticallyevaluate feminist concepts. This has been at least partlydue to the persistenceof orientalist approachesand their tendency to treat Islam as a unitary ideologyfrom which practicesrelatedto women can be automatically assessed in any given Islamicsociety. Despite the privileged place assignedto Islamin analyzingthe positionof women in the Middle East,there is little actualagreementon either its implications for women or on where exactly the specificityof Islam lies. Thus, CynthiaNelson and VirginiaOlesen, for instance,see Islam and suggestthat "whatmakes as an ideology of complementarity an understanding identificationwith contemporary and women's liberation movementsin the West so difficultfor Muslimfeminists in the East is the latter'soverridingcommitmentto the notion of Further,"Islamby postulatingdifference and complementarity." between sexes) does not imply an complementarity(particularly of oppression."' ideology The "separate-but-equal" with argumentappearsin the literature and varyingdegreesof sophistication generallyimpliesa relatively uncritical stand on the possible role of religion in legitimating women'soppression.However, even when such a criticalstandis adoptedtherecan be important divergencesamonginterpretations of exactlyhow Islam construeswomen. FatimaMernissisuggests
Feminist Studies13, no. 2 (Summer1987).? 1987 by FeministStudies,Inc. 317

It illustrates his view of the patriarchal oppression of women in Turkey. drew this in 1983 while a primary school teacher in a rural Anatolian province. .318 Deniz A. Kandiyoti Y C C • ! Asas Kocak. Turkey. a cartoonist who lives today in Ankara.

the virginity-fidelity-son-producing ethos." Nonetheless: What is special about Islam in regard to women is the degree to which matters relating to women's status have either been legilated by the Quran. or by subsequent legislation derived from interpretations of the Quran and the traditional sayings of the Prophet.Deniz A. veiling. as in the case of Turkey. and so potentiallydisruptiveto the male social order. existedin the MiddleEastand in otherpartsof the world long before Islam was born.leadto the loss of such specificity?Or would there still be evidence of some continuity? In this article I will argue that Islam as an ideologicalsystem does provide some unifying concepts that influence women's exThese are vested in the culturallydeperiences of subordination. This perspective provides a refreshingdeparturefrom Western depictionsof female passivityin the orthodoxFreudianvein. she finds Islamicreligionrife with clear indicationsof women'sinferiority. and seclusion) to protectthe unity of the umma(the collectivityof male believers).On this lattercount.4 Would the replacementof the Sharia(the Islamic code) by new secularlaws and codes. so little is Islamic faith in women's ability for rational reasoning that the Koran accepts the testimony of two women as equivalent to the testimony of one man. Lois Beck and those. In fact. but where does it leave women? However. why shouldthese beliefs strikeus as so very differentfrom Indeed. BinnazToprakfails to be convinced by this argument as sexual potency does not imply mentalcapacity. a sexual double standardand so on. As she put it: "TheMuslim order faces two threats: the infidel without and the woman within. This is not to suggest that such culturalcontrolsare im- . Kandiyoti 319 in a provocativeand interestingargumentthat women's subordinationis relatedto the Islamicview of female sexualitywhich sees it as potent. for example. fined modes of control of female sexuality."2 Hence. active.3 Yet. especially insofar as they influence subjective experiences of womanhood and femininity.of a Chinesepatriarch? Nikki Keddiesuggestthat "thebasic patternsof male domination. the Koran explicitly states that men are superior to women and this has been interpreted by some Muslim commentators as proof of divine judgment that women lack mental ability and physical capacity to carry out public duties. which believing Muslims regard as the literal word of God as revealed to the Prophet. In addition. the institutional arrangements(legal submission.

The formalemanof Turkishwomen was achievedthrougha series of legal cipation and reformsfollowingthe war of nationalindependence(1918-23) the establishment MustafaKemalAtaturkof a secularrepublic by out of the remains of the Ottoman state. that there is a greatdeal of diversity and specificityin women'sexperiencesin Islamicsocietieswhich vary with the nationalisthistoriesand social policies of the countrieswithin which women are located.5 of to the extentthat they are intimatelyrelatedto the construction oneself as a genderedsubject. These rightswere not obtainedthroughthe activitiesof women'smovefor ments.8More recently.and extensively.may engagea deeper level of selfif definition.but were grantedby an enlightenedgoverningelite committedto the This and goals of modernization "Westernization. as in the case of Westernwomen'sstruggle suffrage."7 fact had led to as to what the strategicgoals of these considerablespeculation reforms could have been.a level thathas to be acknowledged we are to address the questionof feministconsciousnessin any meaningfulway.Women'senfranchisement took place in two steps:women were firstgrantedthe vote at local elections in 1930 and at the national level in 1934. pacton genderrelations. I will also argue. The adoption of the TurkishCivil Code in 1926. Turkeymay be singled out as a republic that has addressed the question of women's emancipation early.gave equal rightsof divorceto both partners.civic society.however. is it meantto deny the complexityof socioeconomicchanges and their independentimcontemporary Whatis proposedis thatcultural controls.The discussionof the Turkish case will thereforebe explicitlygearedto a discovery of the general and specific conditions of women's experiences in the for MiddleEast. outlawed polygamy.and permittedchild custodyrightsto both parents. Sirin Tekeli has suggestedthat women's rightshave played a strategic . First-generation republican women writers have stressed the inevitabilityof these reforms in the developmentof a democratic.inspiredby the Swiss Code.6 This discussionwill providethe background an evaluationof the relevanceand limitationsof Westernfeministapproaches.320 Deniz A. THE ROLE OF THE STATE Among the countriesof the Middle East.explicitly. Kandiyoti nor mutableand unchanging.

Gregory women'srightsin other kinds of revolutionary of Massell'sanalysisof the mobilization Muslimwomen of Soviet CentralAsia and their use as a "surrogate illustratesa proletariat" different but equally pragmatic political project. in these latter countries.Therefore. She argues that singling out women as the group most visibly oppressedby religion.The last OttomanSultan was also the last Caliph.it is a countrythat has never been colonized.9In contrastto the "Kinder-Kiiche-Kirche" ideology of these fascist states. In historical the terms. on the other hand. Turkey and presenteditself as a countryelectingwomen to its parliament thereby symbolically claimed its rightful place among other Westerndemocraticnations. Kandiyoti 321 role both againstthe politicaland ideologicalbasis of the Ottoman vis-astate and in termsof establishing proofsof "democratization" vis the West. Nelson and Olesen note that. she points out that the most strikingdifferences may be found between capitalistand socialist states in Muslim In societies of the ThirdWorld.10 This approach concurs with analyses of the strategicrole of activities.12 the former.)Tekeli interpretsthe timing of the legislationon women's suffragein the 1930s.Deniz A."thefact that western coloniserstook over .and the seclusion of women from public life seem to prevailto a much greaterextent.throughpracticessuch as veiling. child marriage. to attempton the partof Ataturk dissociate partlyas an important his single party regime from the Europeandictatorshipsof the time (Hitler's Germanyand Mussolini'sItaly). dilemma of the emancipationof women in Islam has not presented itself quite in the same way as it has in those countriesthat were former Western colonies. In this respect.was absolutelycentralto Ataturk's onslaughton the theologicalstate which culminatedin the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924. (The Caliph was the worldly of representative the ProphetMohammed. and polygamy.traditional practices such as polygamy. In this respect Turkey emerges as a unique case. seclusion." Maxine Molyneux'sreview of policies geared to women in socialist societies suggeststhatimprovingthe positionof women may be seen by reforminggovernmentsas a key to dismantlingthe old order. veiling. This brings us to the ratherobvious conclusionthat the Islamic nature of a society can only be evaluatedwith reference to its broaderpoliticalprojectratherthan the dominantreligiousaffiliation of its population.

with the related possibility of of the and polygamy. reconcile herself to even find virtue in the central formulationsof her culturethat normallyshe would rebel against:the pressurethat comes into being as a result of the relationshipin which Islamic society now stands in relation with the West.The althoughfar from being unproblematic. Ayse Oncii's incisive analysis of Turkish women in the professions gives us important clues about the reasons and the implicationsof the recruitmentof women into prestigiousoccupations.repudiation. with a form of internalcolonialism. the emancipatory measures geared to women in Turkey have been described in terms as being either spectacularor merely rathercontradictory and cosmetic. that the Kemalistreformshave directlybenefitedwomen of the urban bourgeoisie. has undoubtedlyleft its mark. The avoidance of civil marriagein favor of the religious ceremony. process of secularization. there is a whole further dimension to the pressures that bear down on her urging her to silence her criticism.In actualfact. illegitimacy. LeilaAhmedarguesthat the facts of fluence.The occupationsanalyzed are law and medicine.'5Nonetheless. however.the level of investment behavior of elementsof nationalidentityinto women's"traditional" is notablylower than that in most Middle Easterncountries."13 dependencyultimatelycompromisethe consciousnessof women themselves. marriage underage in the demand for baslik(brideprice) the marriagecontract.There is no doubt.322 Deniz A. in extreme cases. remain loyal. For the Islamic woman. however. neitherstatementis strictsuperficial ly true. in which statisticsindicate that Turkishwomen's participationlevels comparevery favorablywith those in countries such as Franceand the UnitedStates.Women's changes was readilyidentifiedas succumbingto western inemancipation Moreimportantly. the denial of girls' rights to education.14 bureaucratsin Turkey have similarly Although"Westernizing" to been chargedwith capitulation foreignvalues and. especiallyin those ruralareasmost weakly integrated into the national economy. Kandiyoti the paternalistic defense of Muslimwoman'slot characterised any in her conditionas concessionsto the coloniser. and the emphasis on women's fertilitywere continuingsigns of the uneven socioeconomic developmentof the country.Oncii suggeststhatthe entry of Turkishwomen into the professionswas a functionof the initial . girls. It is a fact that Kemalistreformsremaineda dead issue for a long time.

currentstudies. continue to show that the socioeconomicstatus of female universitystudents is clearlyhigherthan that of the overallmale studentpopulation.A Turkishwoman in the universityis as or more likely to become an engineer as any of her Western All counterparts. includingwomen'sown capacityto organizeand struggle for their rights. on the contrary.She suggeststhat despitethe historical specificity of their recruitment into the professions.'6The rapid expansion of elite cadres with specializedand technical education is a mark of many reformingor revolutionary governmentsand may necessitatethe recruitment of individuals from manual and peasant origins. a discussionof . women'sentryhas createda momentumof its own and has avoided the sex typingof manyjobs and possiblyprovidedrole models for youngergenerations. left out a crucialissue. women's education has acted not so much as a means of mobility as a means of class consolidation. on the other hand. The statemay be a powerfulinstigator change of that may in some cases representan onslaughton throughpolicies existingculturalpractices.The favorableclimateof opinionvis-a-viswomen'seducain of tion in Turkeyhas been instrumental the recruitment upperand middle-classwomen into prestigiousand highly remunerated professions. indicative of a continuing elite recruitment pattern among women.we may turnto Oncii'sprognosticon the role of women in the professionsin Turkey. However class-biasedthe republicanreforms may have been.17 The aim of the foregoingdiscussionwas to illustrate. Kandiyoti 323 mode of recruitmentof cadres under conditionsof rapid expansion in the new republic. however. because these women might have posed less of a threatthan upwardly mobile men from humblerorigins. they have had some obvious and some subtlerlong-termeffects. namely. As a case in point.The case of Turkeyillustratesboth the potentials and the limitationsof reformsinstigatedby a politicalvanguardin the absence of a significantwomen'smovement. if women do not begin to enterprofessional upper-and middle-class schools.by means of the Turkishcase. This demonstration has. be facilitated by new in politicalalliancesand majortransformations the socioeconomic sphere. how the politicalprojectof the statecan act as a major source of discontinuityin the experiencesof women in Muslimcountries. In this sense.Deniz A.These may be met with variousforms of resistance or may.

because signs of significant political activity by women to remedy this state of affairs have been largelyabsent.21Theirrelationships each other have also variouslybeen described as typical instances of the divisive rivalry of the oppressed or. putting down the failureof the developmentof autonomouswomen's movements and feminist consciousnessin the Westernsense to women's"Islamically" mystified consciousnesses or their reticence to identify with values would be a gross oversimplification.the sisterhoodand solidarityof those with strongsame-sexbonds. In what follows. what is the relationship.20 CULTURALCONTROLSAND THE SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE FEMININITY OF No singleissue has been fraught with as much contradiction that as of Muslimwomen'ssexed subjectivity. between "emancipation" "liberation"? changes in Turkey have left the most crucial The of areasof genderrelations. Insofaras subjective experiencesof femininityand/oroppressionhave a directbearing on the shapingof what we mightimpreciselylabela "feminist conhave to be taken seriously and analyzedin far sciousness. it is tempting to describe Turkish women as emancipatedbut unliberated.'8Put in another if and way. Kandiyoti whether and how the discontinuities instigatedby the state relate to the developmentof a feminist consciousness." they greaterdetail than they have been.such as the double standard sexuality and a primarilydomestic definitionof the female role. on the contrary. virtually untouched. I will arguea ratherobviouspoint:thatdifferent cultural modes of control of female sexuality create different subjectiveexperiencesof femininity. Women's "foreign" liberationmovements do not simply refer to women'ssubordination as an abstractcategorybut give it a contentwhich is reflective of concrete and subjectiveexperiences instances of subordination of oppressiondirectlyderivedfrom them.324 Deniz A. Apartfrom the fact that both visions .19In that sense. These are generallythe or experiencesof women in the industrialized postindustrialized West."with greaterpotential for than theirWesternsisterswho have comliberation psychological promisedthemselves throughprolongedsocial promiscuitywith to men.Theirsegregated lives have been describedeither as instancesof unrelievedoppressionor as rich social lives in "parallel worlds. any. However.

firmly imprintingthe notion that her sexat ualityis not hers to give or withhold. which includes the practice of segregation. and currentlyamongthe less permissive strata of society.notions of romanticlove. siblings.and in 3 and 9 percentof the cases in urbanand ruralareas.Thereis nothingin segregationper se that necessarilybreeds rivalryor fosters solidarity.and even neighborsclosely monitorthe movements of the postpubescentgirl.22 any case. be by no means exhaustive but will selectively focus on the control of female sexuality. and images of marriage as woman's ultimate fulfillmentfind less fertile ground on .Althougha woman'spersonal attributesdo play a role in whether she is consideredmarto riageable. albeitwith full consentof both partners.it is ultimatelyher family'sresponsibility see to it that In a suitablematch is arranged."A nationalsurvey carriedout as recently as 1968 showed that as many as 67 percent of Turkishmarriages were arranged.This is clearlyapparent the criticaljuncture of the choice of a marriagepartner. and the characteristics psychological will the female life cycle. Parents. respectively. the choice of In by a mate is by no means a personalmatter.that has a The discussionwill direct bearingon how gender is internalized.In 11 percentof the cases the marriagecontract seems to have taken place without the women'sconsent. near and distant relatives.Againstthis background. Class-specific modalitiesof these cultural controlswill not be discussed. this has kept multitudes of women from competingagainsteach other on the free marketfor sexualityand marriage.the following issues: the "corporate" of effects of sex segregation.the young couple escaped familialcontrol altogether means of elopement. In societies where marriageis still defined as the formationof family alliances.It will be suggestedthat it is the mode of controlof female sexuality. their contemporary The corporatecontrolover female sexualitybecomes strikingly evidentin the largenumberof differentindividualswho see themselves as immediately responsible for ensuring women's appropriate sexual conduct. Severalsimplifications have to be made for the sake of clarity.the equationof love with marriage.nor will distinctionsbe made between aspectsof the historyof the relationsbetween the sexes and variations.they tell us very little aboutthe underlyingdynamicsof women'sexperiences. the past.Deniz A. Kandiyoti 325 tend to be relativelyethnocentric.it is not up to the individualwoman to "gether man.

legitimateexpressions and closeness become possible in relationto one's children. Kandiyoti which to flourish. Both and Hanna Papanekin her study of purdahin Pakistan23 Fatima Mernissiin her analysis of Moroccolay great stress on the symbolic value of restrictivepracticesdirected at women to protect and socially disruptivesexagainstthe dangersof uncontrollable ual desire.it mightbe quite safe to assume that the very strictnessof the controlsplaced on female sexuality gives women's femininity the status of an inalienable. Emotional attachment is often expected to The degreeof emotionalcloseness. A centralcorollaryof corporate controlover female sexualityin this contextis the close connectionbetween female sexual purity and family or lineage honor. Women are vested with immense negativepower because any misbehavioron their part can bring shame and dishonorto the male membersof a whole community. It is an ascribed status rather than something to strive for. which may rangefromtotalseclusionand veilingto severe restrictions of their movements and their access to public places. a point to which we shall return later. Papanekfurthersuggests that it may be that internalised "guilt"feelings are more applicable to impulse control in societies which are highly dispersed. or expressed. the purdah system clearly relies more on the use of shame rather than guilt mechanisms of social control.in the Freudiansense.In the traditional context. "Shame"mechanisms are more dependent on sanctions imposed by members of a group with whom there is frequent interaction. are lineage. little overtdisplaysof interestin one'sspouse was encouragedand few occasions for intimacy were allowed outside the marital of bedroom. permanent property.326 Deniz A.and also within same-sex groups. actual develop aftermarriage. An . unnecessary. The same cannot be said of man's masculinity. She concludes that "itwould be a potent irony to find that the seclusionof women throughthe purdahsystem operateseffectively enough to make sexual repression.Mernissihas noted the explosiveand dangerous quality ascribedto femalenessin Muslim societies.Strictexternalconstraints placedon women. In terms of this differentiation.In contrastto the apparentinstrumentality the wifeof emotionalwarmth husbandrelationship."24 Withouthavingto ventureso far afield.especiallyif it involvedextendedfamilyliving.in the wife-husbandrelationshipis variable.or family.

which controlsfemale sexuality rigidlyand at the same time requiresthat men flaunttheir masculineprowess.This state of affairs could partiallyaccount for the persistentelement of danger associated with the female sex.Whetherit urgenttask of "neutralizing" reduces women to the rank of the "animal.Deniz A. an element that introducesthe possibilityof subjugation throughviolence especiallywhen and if female behavior is construed as a slight against masculinity or male "honor. the result is a distortion and crippling of women's essential humanity.A study carriedout in the United States by MartinaHornerproposedthat a basic inconsistencyexists be- .It may not be surprisingto find that in cultures such as Turkey." FatnaSabbahis quite rightin pointingout the defenin Muslimpatriarchal sive element discoursewhich sets itself the women and theirsexuality. Very little has been said aboutthe possible psychologicalconsequences of this specific combinationfor women of corporatecontrol over sexuality and a culturallyand emotionallychargedconceptionof one'sfemininity." in eroticdiscourse as female sexualpotency at the expense of their humanity. althoughwoman'svery humanitymay be in question.becausethe dangerof being unmanned is ever present.26 However. her femalenessnever is. Masculinityis not an ascribedbut an achieved status. provingone'smasculinityis a constant preoccupationas is the concern over the loss of masculinity.Thus. Kandiyoti 327 argumentthathad been presentedat a moregenerallevel by femiframework thatto is nists workingwithin a revisedpsychoanalytic the extent that men's earliestidentificationis with their primary caretaker.the moredifficultit is for men to live up to it.men areintensely preoccupiedwith possible loss of sexual identity. stressing or weakens her physicallyand morally.25 would I predicatedupon a radicalseparation of furtherlike to suggestthat culturalconstructions the masculine and feminine play a significantrole in exacerbating need for a the of constantreaffirmation this psychologicalseparation.Concernover loss of femininity. The more the myth of male superiority becomes (asin the case of compelling the Latinmachismo). seems conspicuously absent in this context. one that is never permanentlyachieved.as in the sacreddiscourse. their ego boundariesare from the feminine.who is usually their mother.a preoccupation referredto in the psychological literature one of the possible internalobstaclesto women'ssucas cessful professionalachievementin the West.

does not seem to permeatetheirbeing in the same diffuse. Kandiyoti tween femininity and successful achievement:stories depicting professionallysuccessfuloutcomesfor women met with negative This study has been critized affect and fear-of-success imagery. is extremelypuzzling. The relationshipbetween Turkish women's gender roles and theirprofessional roles. with explicitovertonesof asexuality). including professional ones.Adbehaviordo not requirepersistent the are mittedly." at or least "asexual.HowHomer's I thoughtthere might be some value in replicating ever. gender. classic also studiessuch as MirraKomarovsky's pointedout the pressures on collegewomen to appearless competentthan they are lest they should appear unacceptableto their dates. women the ability to act as professionalswhose habits of seem to have to orientation men as males.persistentway thatit does Westernwomen'sin most cross-sex interaction situations.328 Deniz A.29The women who wrote stories involving the anticipasuccess were tion of negativeconsequencesfollowingprofessional externalcontingenciessuch as inpreoccupiedby very tangible.I did not identify the criticalqualitativeresponsesthat were supposed to signal concern over loss of femininity among women. reasonsof- . Paradoxically. tensified conflict with male colleaguesand within their families. older.27 and substantivegrounds. such concerns are intimatelylinked to broaderexpectationsof the female and role which are subjectto transformation redefinition.on such occasionsthatwomen do step into their sense of public roles. any event.these observations highly speculative. measureon a groupof female and male university fear-of-success studentsin Turkeyto find out whether similarconcernscould be elicitedin a differentculturalcontext. but. Nonetheless.and there have on both methodological been many failures at replication.Not only did I fail to find a statisticaldifferencebetween the women and men." thata varietyof culturalmechanismsare specialencountersas sexually ly mobilizedto constructsome cross-sexual as falling back into the kinship idiom that labels "neutral" (such unrelatedwomen as sister.28Clearly. and mother accordingto their In ages. It may be that the very rigidityof culturaldefinitionsof femininity or helps redefinewomen in positionsof power as "nonfemale. There was nothing to indicate that their perceptionsof professionalsuccess had any bearingon theirviews of themselvesas intrinsicallyfeminine and desirable. more importantly. aunt.while strong.

a specific pattern seems to be emergingwhich Emelie Olson has characterized the "duofocal" as family.32 same is. on The fact that certainsocietiesdo not imposevisible restrictions movements does not in and of itself mean that women women's share the same social worlds with men.Forwomen. Turkishwomen in the They suggestthat "these public spherebringwith them from the traditional separateworld from men which makes them of women a sense of independence on moreableto concentrate the tasksat handin the publicworld."30 This assertionis in need of criticalexamination. Most of humanity continues to live in more socially sexsegregatedcircumstancesthat we are willing normallyto admit.31 sex-segregated do in frequentcontactand mutualcooperation not exist expressed in formallysex-segregated societies. Kandiyoti 329 fered to account for them are even more so. comparedwith men'sclearlyarticulated patternsof "menleisure activities.dancing. this network involves relatives. impact of sex segregation.and neighborsas well as their colleagues. there is a sense in only which. However. Lloyd Fallersand Margaret Fallers.if they are workingwomen. Yet. of course. In sex-segregated societies. true about male groupsand friendships. working-class Strongrelationshipsbetween women socializing. women's parallelnetworks of sociabilityare highly articulatedand involve structuredvisiting as patterns.Under conditionsof increasedmobility.specificformsof religiousand ritualparticipation.in theirstudyof the women of a small invokethe possiblepsychological town in westernAnatolia. and this access is bolsteredby relativelylow geographic mobility.Deniz A. lot of self-expressive activitytakesplacewithin single-sexgroups(suchas singing.and women do not dependexclusivelyor primariThe ly on men for their self-definition. this mode of socializingimplies continuedaccess to their primarygroupnetworks. Yet.33 Apartfromthe time spent togetheras a couple.women'sculturein the West emergesas a only" sort of residual category rather than as a truly self-contained world. Studies of Western women presentexamplesof intense primarygroup.more character- . andjoking).women and men tend to continueto cultivate their separatenetworksof same-sexfriends. well A as specifiedforms of groupentertainment.old classmates. of This background sex-segregation may seem to have very little on the contemporary urbanmiddle class in Turkeywhere bearing couple or mixed-sex socializing is becoming the norm. For instance.

in the last analysis. Kandiyoti istic of the Westernmiddle class. and may in some extremecases come to reprefor sent the only sourceof primarygroupinteraction both sexes. One of the conof embeddedness" women is their ability sequences of this "social to benefit from wider supportsystems for their domestic duties. it may be harderfor women to cultivatelong-term primarynetworks.330 Deniz A. It should not seem surprisingthat the "rediscovery sisterhood" been so high on the Western of has feminist agenda.and there may be a tendenon the part of housewives-to gravitatetoward cy-especially husbands' networksof socialrelationsand the secondaryorganizasuch as clubs and associations.of the communityin which tions. these are the very mechanisms that serve to shelter the male role from any funas damentalredefinition.An examinationof women's life cycles will help us put in place a final but importantbuildingblock of their identity as well as shed some light on the psychological in women'ssubordination. to the extent that the "couple" operatesas a unit.It may seem ironic that. Women'sgreaterability to foster and maintaintheir own networks of sociabilityin the Middle East appearsas an extremely importantelementin their controlover theirlives. mechanismsinstrumental reproducing The nature of the female life cycle in the "ideal-typical" patri- . it strain and places a greaterpsychological creates new sources of or The burdenon the institutionof marriage cohabitation. Nonetheless. to It is thereforeimportant rememberthat women'scooperation and sociability in the Middle East takes place against a highly where a varietyof both materialand sympatriarchal background bolic means will be mobilizedto minimizechallengesto men'sexisting prerogatives. especiallychildcare.These supportsystemsmay be of a reciprocal nature (especiallyamongkin) but arejust as frequentlyexploitive of other women (as with domestic servantsor poor relatives). The extentto which the Westernnuclearfamily defines unit is clearitself as an inward-looking. domestictasks continueto be effectively absorbedby other women even when wives lead demandingprofessionallives. emotionallyself-sufficient variable.and there are importantdifferencesalong class ly quite and ethnic lines. they live. dangerous levels of socialand emotionalisolationthatmay resultfor nonworking women have been documented extensively in both feminist researchand fiction.

Kandiyoti 331 clues with locally extendedhouseholdprovidesus with important to both the reproduction women'ssubordination the in of respect Middle East and the psychologicalinternalization this suborof dination. Nonetheless. and in cases of conflict his . The mother-sonrelationshipis an intimateand affectionateone. the critical relationshipsin the household are between in-marrying women to the male-headedhousehold. especially of a male child. which is neither specificallyMiddle Eastern nor Islamic.The cyclicalnatureof women's relativepower position in the household. and. involvingearlymarriage of women into male-headedhouseholds.In her own socialization a littlegirl. a women's relationshipto her son is absolutely crucial. Within the household there is a clear hierarchywhereby the newest bride is subordinated her mother-in-law well as to as all the sisters-in-law with more seniority. However. the apex of her influence and power comes when she in turn has grown sons who bringher brides. finally. this In context.Childbearing. where the woman indulgesher son greatly. as her title gelin (literally.and which exhibitssome significantvariationsacross Middle Easternsocieties. gives her fulleracceptancein her husband's famidies she establishesher ly. a man's relationship to his mother may be stronger than that to his wife. clear son preference and devaluationof the female child.the indicates. Conversely. as "onewho comes") it is made quite clearto her that she will have to leave her house of This may not be as extremea break originand go to el (strangers). she starts out her married life under extremely unfavorablepower terms. as well as the fact that their socializationis at every stage overseen by other women whose authoritythey may covet.many cultural practices that have a profound impact on women's psychologicaldevelopmentin the Middle Eastemanatefrom this type of household.and lookingto him for futuresecurity and protection. and a sharp age hierarchy within both female and male domains.This type of domesticarrangement. In Turkey. is by no means specific to Islamic societies but is also quite typical of Southand East Asian societies such as India and China.Deniz A. when her father-in-law separatenuclear household and comes into her own. leads to a thoroughinternalization and reproduction this particular of form of patriarchy. A girl comes to her husband'shousehold.sometimesprotecting him againsta punitivefather. However. with her past if she marrieswithin her kin group.

Adolescentsand youngsterscontinueto depend on their families for shelter and materialsupport. the sense of psychological deprivato tion attachedto being "confined" domesticitymay be less acute.many Western women's dissatis- .The birth of grandbitation. The same is not true for many Western women. the breakfromthe extendedfamilypatterndoes not seem to have a definitive effect on women's familial expectations.extendednessaccounts for a very short period of a household'sdomestic cycle. Childrentypically become more independentor leave home at a time when the husbandis still active in his careerand or the wife is at a near-menopausal menopausalstage.young couples in nuclearfamiliesare also more independent.34The expectationof aging in an extended household surrounded by subservientbrides is simply no longer there. Currently.Moreimporin societies which continueto be more familialin orientatantly. tion.332 Deniz A. Even after actualmaterialconstraintsmay make a periodof cohamarriage. if there at all. adolescents. On the whole.which brings a promise of lifelong nurturance. or at least close contact. women experience continuityratherthan discontinuitybetween the promand ises of theirsocialization theireventuallife-style. Kandiyoti solidaritymay easily go to the former. Significantly. Theirinvolvementin childcareextendsover a periodof ten to fifteen years. Women's socialization. is more often than not actually fulfilled in the Turkish context. for bothwomen and men. inevitable. The tug-of-warbetween and mother-in-law wife for the man'sloyalityis a productof this socializationwhich has far outlived the context in which it was born. regardlessof whether they are requiredto contributeto the family budget. women loss"and may more easily turn are more likely to sufferfrom "role to a fundamentalredefinitionof their role and a search for alternative life-styles. In societies where the materialand culturalbase for such emancipationexists. and young adults. Any atto understandthe psychologicalimplicationsof women's tempt life cycles must simply take into account the emancipationof children. and it may not take place at all. a shortperiod for an individualwith a normallife expectancy. children brings new responsibilitiesand chores to the older woman at a time when her Westerncounterpart may well be contemplating going back to college. However. As younger men become increasinglyemancipatedfrom their own fathers.

and asjob alternatives createdoutside the domestic sector.and mystified.the relationships among women often tend to be of a highly exploitivenature. It may well be argued that women's liberationmovements in the West have helped to bring and women'ssocialization consciousnessmore in line with the actual demandsof their situationratherthan let them shoulderthe whole psychological burdenof change. who join the laborforce out of economic necessity.the only householdmemberswho can be reliedupon to or share tasks are daughters. and more generallyin the MiddleEast.corporate networks of sociabilitywith exfemale sexuality. alienated.alone. may have the purvolved in remunerated to hire domestic workers such as maids and nanchasing power nies. regardlessof whether they are inwork outsidethe home.Middle-and upper-middleclass women.35 To summarize. girlswill not resentbeingtakenout of schoolto keep house and take care of younger siblings.an attempthas been made to show how in Turcontrolover key. sex-segregated tensive informalsupportsystems. Kandiyoti 333 factions with their familialroles coincided with a restrictionand impoverishment of these roles.Moreover.Deniz A. the availabilityof domestic labor will not . the basic living comforts of the householdare createdby women at the expense of other women. Similarly. and a life cycle involvinga continuedvaluationof women'snurturant roles combineto producea experience of one's gender. secure sense of genderedself is achieved as a by-productof the most restrictiveand oppressive controlsover female sexuality.There is no reason to assume that.The sense of strengthderivedfrom mutual cooperationand supportamong women is ultimatelyinstrumentalin shelteringmen from new demandsand prolonging their traditionalprerogatives.We may expect intensified conflictbetween differentgenerationsof women especiallyif their position vis-a-vis each other representsan importantlabor relationin the household. For poor women.there is no reasonto assume thatas the minimumwage comes to representa significant portion of middle-class are incomes. in the same way that young men resentedforgoingindependentincomeearning opportunitiesfor unremuneratedlabor in their father's farmor shop. other living-in female relatives. This experience is clearly specific A fraughtwith deep contradictions. Processesof rapidsocial change increasinglyreveal and intensify these contradictions. daughters-in-law. In every case.

This may expose women to surboth sexes across all classes. Thus.In all probabilityboth tendencieswill be presentto some extent. the life options for women. Many other aspects of women'slives are also in a state of flux. Kandiyoti women with no satisfactory alternatives decline. consequently.any observations on the development of a feminist consciousness within this contextmust startwith a full recognitionof the set of specific of contradictions women's experiences. There is a growinguncertaintyregarding sexual mores. leavingbetter-off to cater for their needs. the segregation the sexes. although the secularreformsof the TurkishRepublicmay have had a set of nationalisticgoals as their ultimateobjective. Whetherthese changes will promotegreaterempathy movementsin the with the centralconcernsof women'sliberation West or will producea nostalgiafor and commitmentto traditional values and practicesis difficultto predict. there will be important changes in the parametersthat currently shape women's experiences. of and the nature of the female life cycle. also that despiteimportant variationsthere are undeniableuniargued themes in the experiencesof women emanatingfrom the fying nature of culturalcontrols over female sexuality in the Muslim Middle East. however. Although controlover sexualitymay continue to prevail.334 Deniz A. have been singled out as featuresthat exerta decisiveinfluencein shapingand reproducing . In any case.they have nonetheless had a progressive impacton women'srights. I have chosen a specific historicallocation to demonstrate thatthe politicalprojectof the statecan exerta powerfulinfluence which inflects and modifies the place and practiceof Islam and. CONCLUSION In this articleI have attemptedto identifysome of the factorsaccountingfor similaritiesand divergencesin women'sexperiences in the Middle East througha detailed discussion of the Turkish case. At any rate. linking female sexual purity to male honor. The corporatecontrol of female sexuality.36 prises and humiliationsthat their motherswere sparedyet at the same time protectthem from some of the worst excesses of the more traditionalsystem.I have.the accorporate tual natureof acceptablesexual conductis constantlybeing chalareasof confusionfor creatingimportant lengedand renegotiated.

if an irreducible"core" of culturalpractice had to be identified I would suggest that it in residesprimarily concretemodes of controlof female sexuality.Althoughthere are deep and important variations both amongMiddleEasternsocietiesand within them (alongclass and ethnic lines).On those occasionsthat make statements about the universal experiences of they womanhood. insofaras they choose to stress the universal aspects of women'soppression. culturally specific contexts or ahistoricalsearchesfor the essentialwoman.ratherthan in the unmediateddictatesof Islam.Deniz A. because I have been arguingthat ultimately we cannot totally divorce specific forms of consciousness (feministor other)from the social relationsthat condition them. are generallybetter able to accountfor historicallyspecificforms of women'ssubordination (especiallywithin postindustrialcapitalism)and generate conceptsthat are abstractand broadenough to escape chargesof ethnocentrism. Kandiyoti 335 a culturallyspecificexperienceof gender.have few tools to account for the and that specifichistorical culturalarrangements mediatebetween biologicallyrooted universal phenomena (such as childbearing) and theirdifferentinstitutionalized forms. not all of which are specificto Islamicsocieties. the very broad and abstractnature of these concepts makes a considerationof culturallydefined sexed subjectivity-the very stuff that consciousness is made of-difficult if not impossibleto deal with.on the other hand.the attemptsof Westernradicalfeministsturn out to be either un-self-consciouslyreflective of concrete.Advancesin this directionwould not only enrich feminist theory but would also make it a more sensitive tool for politicalaction. It is in accountingfor culturallyspecific forms of sexed subjectivity and their possiblelink with distinctmodes of consciousness that I have found Westernfeminist theories either inadequateor incomplete.This searchfor specificityis of more than purely academicinterest. Marxist/socialist feminists.37 I would like to concludeby suggesting thatthis is the terrainthat still remainsto be captured. .However. Radicalfeminist theories of both the culturalistand materialistvariety.

Maxine Molyneux. 1974). in the form of the religious National Salvation Party (see Toprak. 12. especially in terms of the symbolic value attached to the control of women. 14. See Nora Seni. Lois Beck and Nikki Keddie. 167-202. 9." Les Temps Modernes (July-August 1984): 66-95. (London: CSE Books: 1981). 162. p. 285. 10. People's Democratic Republic of Yemen. 5-31. 15. Turkey: Basbakanlik Basimevi. 1982). Nermin Abadan-Unat. On these questions. Gregory Massell. Fatima Mernissi. Nermin Abadan-Unat (Leiden. "Sex Roles and Social Change: A Comparative Appraisal of Turkey's Women. Nora Seni sees a greater degree of continuity between the Ottoman and republican state traditions. Interestingly. 12. see Deniz Kandiyoti. 5. Afet Inan. nos. 28. 1973). 1964). most analysts seem to think that these developments do not pose a serious threat to women's rights. The Surrogate Proletariat: Muslim Women and Revolutionary Strategies in Soviet CentralAsia. 8. the "granting"of political rights to women by the republican state has the same analytical status as the painstaking Ottoman legislation specifying the mode of dress and conduct of women in urban space. Nelson and Olesen. 176 pages." Le Monde Diplomatique [November 19821: 11). eds. 25. 1978)." in Women in Turkish Society." in Women in Turkish Society. and to a more diffuse search for identity stemming from the rapid transformation of society which had to be acknowledged even by the country's "secular" military rules (Nur Vergin. 2. Binnaz (Sayari) Toprak. 7.336 Deniz A." Catalyst. 1981). "Women in Turkish Politics. "Religion and Turkish Women. ed. 3. The meaning and actual degree of success of this process is a hotly debated issue in Turkey. this argument ultimately falls short of elucidating the political necessity of the reforms. "Social Change and Turkish Women.1975). Tezer Taskiran. "Feminism and Feminist Movements in the Middle East. 1919-1929 (Princeton: Princeton University Press. Islamic societies in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia). 4. 10-11 (Summer 1977): 8-36. For her. and "Economie Monetaire et Roles des Sexes: Le cas de la Turquie." in Of Marriage and the Market: Women'sSubordination in International Perspective. On this question. Algeria. 27. Kate Young et al. 32. Analyses attempting to explain the resurgence of Islamic values in Turkey draw our attention to structural changes which produced the emergence of a new elite at the center.. "Women in Socialist Societies: Theory and Practice." in Women in TurkishSociety. Preliminary Exploration: Turkey. The Netherlands: E. Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in a Modern Muslim Society (New York: John Wiley. 11. Sirin Tekeli. "Quand L'Islam reinvestit la ville. ed." CurrentSociology 31 (Spring 1983): 213-28." in Women and Islam. Although highlighting the importance of the symbolic. 13. Egypt. for instance. Aziza Al-Hibri (Oxford: Pergamon Press. . ed. See Cynthia Nelson and Virginia Olesen's "Veil of Illusion: A Critique of the Concept of Equality in Western Feminist Thought. 293-310.J. Although most of the empirical material for this article is drawn from Turkey. Women in the Muslim World (Cambridge: Harvard University Press." Signs 3 (Autumn 1977): 57-73. 291). my aim is to open up a more general line of theoretical inquiry for women in the Middle East and North Africa. Any references to Islamic societies and Muslim women within the text must be understood to refer to this circumscribed area (excluding. Cumhuriyetin 50: Yilinda Turk Kadin Haklari (Ankara. Leila Ahmed. Kandiyoti NOTES 1. Ataturk ve Turk Kadin Haklarinin Kazanilmasi (Istanbul: Milli Egitim Basimevi. "Ville Ottomane et Representation du Corps Feminin. Brill. 6.

than boys' who are drawn from a wider variety of social backgrounds. "Femininity and Successful Achievement: Basic Inconsistency. that is. and patterns of residence (metropolitan. rural). Serim Timur. "Turkish Women in the Professions: Why So Many?" in Women in Turkish Society. J. 81-193. TiirkiyedeAile Yapisi (Ankara. 26. Mernissi." in Women in Turkish Society. 28. See Leila Ahmed. Peristiany (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. this should lead us into a discussion of alternative constructions of the human subject. This issue. Woman in the Muslim Unconscious (New York: Pergamon Press. ed. 20. "Separate Worlds and Symbolic Shelter. Deniz Kandiyoti. Turkey: Sevinc Matbaasi. Surveys carried out among university students consistently show that on the whole. 325. Mirra Komarovsky. Michael Young and Peter Willmott. although their acquiescence is mingled with protest and resistance. 1978). argues convincingly that the segregated women of the Arabian Peninsula are not in the least mystified as to the true nature of the relations between the sexes in their society and have few doubts about their own self-worth despite the prevalent ideology of women's inferiority.: Wadsworth Publishing. urban. 316. family income. judging by indicators such as father's profession. 21. for instance. 1976). for example. R. Deniz Kandiyoti. (Belmont. on the other hand. The Reproductionof Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender (Berkeley: University of California Press." in Mediterranean Family Structure. "Urban Change and Women's Roles: An Overview and Evaluation. 1972): 69-98." Feminist Studies 8 (Fall 1982): 521-34. although critical to an understanding of feminism.Deniz A. 24." American journal of Sociology 52 (1946): 508-16. 1982). Martina Horner. parents' education. and Community in Turkey. Ahmed. There is therefore a closer relationship between girls' class background in terms of giving them access to higher education. "Cultural Contradictions and Sex Roles. 1984). See her Images and Self Images: Male and Female in Morocco (New York: Columbia University Press. 22. This suggests that parents of modest means will make a special effort to put their sons through college-but not their daughters. ed. For the purpose of this paper. Lloyd Fallers and Margaret Fallers. Bardwick et al. See. and Lee Rainwater. female students come from more affluent backgrounds than male students. 255. 30." in Sex Roles. 1957). This is not to suggest that the complex historical forces that have led to contemporary feminism can be reduced to a mere epiphenomenon of specific women's or men's consciousnesses but rather to indicate a willingness to explore the impact of different cultural contexts on the shaping of sexed subjectivity.P. 263. . Coleman. 1978). Family. Family and Kinship in East London (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Hanna Papanek. 101-20. "Dimension of Psycho-Social Change in Women: An Intergenerational Comparison. seems to suggest a greater degree of collusion on the part of women with the stereotype of female inferiority. 31. Fatna Sabbah. 233-58. ed. "Western Ethnocentrism and Perceptions of the Harem. 18. Kandiyoti 337 16. Dwyer's study of Morocco. 1970): 45-74. Cigdem Kagitcibasi (Bloomington: Indiana University Turkish Studies. when they recognize a set of demands as explicitly their own. "Sex Roles in Edremit. 23. Calif. Judith M. I will adopt a minimalist definition by proposing that a feminist consciousness may be deemed to exist whenever women act as the selfconscious subjects of their own struggle. Nancy Chodorow. Ultimately." Comparative Studies in Society and History 15 (June 1975): 289-325. must remain outside the scope of this article. Papanek. 27. 19. Ayse Oncii. 29." Feminine Personality and Conflict.G. 25. 17. Daisy H.

"Journal of Peasant Studies 2 (January 1975): 206-19. . 33. and "Social Change and Social Stratification in a Turkish Village. "Duofocal Family Structure and an Alternative Model of HusbandWife Relationships. 32. for instance. I do not wish to suggest that gender relations in the family. the continuing value attached to women's virginity in a context where opportunities for cross-sex contact are more available and to some extent more permissible creates new practices such as the surgical replacement of the hymen designed to cover up any premarital lapses. "Virginity and Patriarchy. the very real differences the experience of womanhood may represent. see Deniz Kandiyoti. 37. 35. are not intrinsically oppressive to women but rather want to reflect on when and how they come to be perceived as such. 1984). rather than engage with and problematize. "Rural Transformation in Turkey and Its Implications for Women's Status. 33-72. Working Man's Wife (New York: McFadden Bartell. 1979). 36. I am intrigued by the possibility that such perceptions may arise at the point of transformation of such relations or when an important disjunction takes place between the ideology and the facts of domesticity. Carla Makhlouf-Obermeyer." Women'sStudies International Forum 5 (1982): 183-91. For instance. see Fatima Mernissi."in Womenon the Move: ContemporaryChanges in Family and Society (Paris: Unesco. as we know it. Changing Veils: A Study of Women in South Arabia (Austin: University of Texas Press. and Community in Turkey. Emelie Olson." in Sex Roles. She suggests that women's meetings are also a vehicle for satire and ridicule of the male world. Family. 1962). For an insightful discussion.338 Deniz A. 34. Kandiyoti and George Handel. It is noteworthy that on those occasions when Marxist/socialist feminists do discuss subjectivity they often fall back on psychoanalytic theory and its contemporary offshoots in ways that tend to obfuscate and trivialize. For greater detail. See.

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