Civil Liberties

Chemical Warfare of the Sexes


Turkey is frequently cited as the most (sometimes only) secular Muslim country, and therefore, the most Western. But then there's Turkey's Department of Women's Oppression:

"Women have to be more careful, since they possess stimulants," and they "have to be covered properly so as not to show their ornaments and figures to strangers."

Those are two of the controversial "dos" and "don'ts" given to Turkish women in the "Sexual Life" article that appeared last week on the website of Turkey's Directorate on Religious Affairs, the Diyanet.

It added that if women have to communicate to the opposite sex they "should speak in a manner that will not arouse suspicion in one's heart and in such seriousness and dignity that they will not let the opposite party misunderstand them."

Check out Contributing Editor Michael Young on Turkish secularism.

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  1. “Possess stimulants…ornaments and figures…”

    Cue Beavis & Butthead laugh, if it didn’t sound so insanely weird.

  2. Yeah, but the tryptophan puts me to sleep.

  3. This kind of stuff must appeal to the villagers in the boondocks – this is not what I just saw in Istanbul.

    The touristy areas are kind of like a Roman+Islamic influenced Tijuana, with mosques every other block (the call to prayer is deafening) but the wealthier parts of the city are surprisingly western; the way younger people dress and the open, seemingly unfettered mixing of the sexes on the streets at night.

    Many women in head-to-toe Islam garb, but many, many more in western clothes.

  4. Lmao! What freaks. And people say the U.S. is oppressive

  5. What kind of power is wielded by the author of the article that carried these ‘dos and don’ts’?
    I’m guessing it was a government website, so it’s still insulting and wrong, but it’s not exactly oppressive unless it’s legislation.

  6. …but the wealthier parts of the city are surprisingly western; the way younger people dress and the open, seemingly unfettered mixing of the sexes on the streets at night.

    There’s a yuppy shopping district called the Jadeh (I’m not sure how it’s actually spelled). It’s unofficial slogan is, “Show your bod-ay on the Jad-eh!”

  7. Malaysia and Indonesia are more or less secular, despite fluctuating pressure from various quarters to become less so.

  8. Mrs. Abdul prefers me to call her stimulants, ornaments an figures by their proper name.


  9. Anyone familiar with a pissoir knows the position all women should assume all the time.
    The should be cumoirs 24-7.
    ’nuff said.

  10. “Women have to be more careful, since they possess stimulants,”

    Men possess something that stimulates women too, but we’re more discreet about it.

    We keep our wallets out of sight.

  11. Hugh,

    This is why I have preferences rather than standards when it comes to picking up women.

  12. How does the UK maintain the Church of England and still give equality to both genders? Could they be a role model?

  13. Turkey is an embarrassing tale of secularism – it is really more of a case of government trying to suppress religion (this example is more the exception than the norm). Turkish women are forbidden to wear the hijab, Turkish mosques are only allowed to preach prescribe sermons in Turkish (Turkey is the only place on earth where the call to prayer is not in Arabic), and the list goes on.

    Turkey isn’t secular on the division of church and mosque kind of way, but secular as a sort of new religion that ought to supercede individual choice of religion.

  14. Rhywun: The Malaysian constitution place Islam as the official religion, all 13 states as well as the federal territories have Syariah courts, in which most states restrict rights such as freedom to convert to another religion, and all states ban interreligious marriages and adoptions. These states own and control all the mosques and suraus in their state.

    With things like Muslims banned from buying and drinking alcohol, entering casinos and the like – Malaysia is far from secular. Moderate – perhaps. For now.

  15. Chemical Warfare

    “RAY’S GUITAR BROKE! Now it won’t play right, it won’t play anything.”

  16. it’s worth noting that though these laws are all on the books in malaysia, and are even somewhat enforced in the more conservative areas like kelantan, for the most part they are totally flouted, and malays dressing provocatively and drinking booze can be seen everywhere.

  17. If you are the Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic, how do you best move your society towards the west? What are the best methods to change a people’s view of the relationship between God, country and the individual? Thinkers and power brokers who wish for the society to emulate the more secular and free countries in Europe are walking a tightrope ensouraging and in some cases demanding that the citizens change their behavior.

    IANAT* so it would be presumptuous of me to assert I know the best way to accomplish this very difficult transition/transformation. It’s fascinating to watch and I’d love to be the fly on the wall as the cabinet discusses the dicey westernization issues.


  18. It’s important to understand that Turkey is a fascist country and has been since its inception. The state regulates much of life and freedom as we know it is almost wholly absent.

    One of the e-books on the taxonomy of fascism over at devotes a substantial portion of a chapter discussing Kemalism as they call it; I can’t find it right now, but if you are interested look for it. It’s pretty fascinating stuff.

    The Turkish Republic was founded in the 20’s along the progressive theories that were in vogue then. This meant an state comprised of a single ethnicityalong Wilsonian principles (hence the ruthless suppression of Armenian and Kurdish culture) organized along fascist lines with a Parliamentary system and a secular state religion.

    The founders of the republic were culturally influenced by the French and emulated many French institutions. They changed the alphabet from an Arabic one to a Roman one. They ruthlessly suppressed any religious movement that tried to gain or wield political influence.

    I attended grade school there. Our civics classes only propounded our obligations to the state and the concept of civil liberties was never discussed. As in the U.S. we learned the origin myth of the Republic. We were taught how Attaturk successfully chased out the Allies and ended the post WW I occupation.

    In many ways it was similar to the stuff they were teaching in grade school in the U.S. with one big exception.

    In Turkey, the official rationale was to restore sovereignty of Turks over their land – very nebulous.

    In the U.S. there were actual grievances laid out in the declaration of independence. Nominally it was not a fight for the glory of some nation state but to preserve individual rights.

    Of course, as a kid, I routinely got in trouble since I was instinctively anti-state. I never even bothered to learn the National Anthem which we were supposed to sing in morning formation before school every day. When I was caught out by the teachers, I thought they were going to beat me up. Good thing we left before I reached the age of conscription.

  19. As a good libertarian I’m horrified by the ban on headscarves, but on the other hand, I know that if they are allowed it will be the thin end of the wedge and it won’t be long before women will be beaten for not wearing them. Not a great choice…

  20. Since I’m seeking beautiful muslim singles

    for matrimony

    I fully support the Turkish gov’t taking a stand against cockteases.

  21. Isn’t it amazing that in those societies where men have the most power over women, they are most afraid of the power of women?

  22. How about Libya?

    Did anyone else read that as “What about labia?”

  23. How, not what, HOW. muttermutter….

  24. Turkey doesn’t have a state religion? What about all that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk worship? You can’t go to any city without seeing a big red Turkish flag and a statue of Ataturk. It’s a bit of an overstatement, but living in Turkey would be like living in a country made up exclusively of Ron Paul fanatics, although they would be more statist so they would build statues and force everyone to go to government propoganda schools instead of hanging banners everywhere and spamming the internet. But you would still be in trouble if you insulted The Man.

  25. Is this really that much different from abstinence only sex education promoted by the U.S. government?

    Or how about Representative Paul C. Broun’s (R-GA) proposed H. R. 5821: Military Honor and Decency Act, which is an attempt “To amend title 10, United States Code, to close loopholes in the prohibition on the sale or rental of sexually explicit material on military installations.”.

    Specifically, it seeks to ban even a side view of a woman’s breast from any item sold in military PX’s. That’s a bit of legislated ornamental wrapping from the U.S. Congress. Currently, 21 House Republicans have cosponsored it:

    Todd Akin (R-MO)
    Roscoe Gardner Bartlett (R-MD)
    Robert William ‘Rob’ Bishop (R-UT)
    Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
    Steve Chabot (R-OH)
    Randy J. Forbes (R-VA)
    Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)
    Virgil H. Goode Jr. (R-VA) – See The Video of Virgil pronouncing “Moohammed”, Nazi salute included
    Steve King (R-IA)
    Ray H. LaHood (R-IL)
    Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO)
    Mike Pence (R-IN)
    Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA)
    Michael D. Rogers (R-AL)
    Peter J. Roskam (R-IL)
    William T. “Bill” Sali (R-ID)
    Christopher Shays (R-CT)
    Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ)
    Mark Souder (R-IN)
    Zachary Paul Wamp (R-TN)
    Robert J. Wittman (R-VA)

    Now browse some videos on the site of the Turkish Newspaper Hurriyet, and see how Turkish women hide their ornaments.

  26. Isn’t it amazing that in those societies where men have the most power over women, they are most afraid of the power of women?

    Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

    Or how about Representative Paul C. Broun’s (R-GA) proposed H. R. 5821: Military Honor and Decency Act, which is an attempt “To amend title 10, United States Code, to close loopholes in the prohibition on the sale or rental of sexually explicit material on military installations.”.

    I know, because we can evidently handle the horrors of combat, but seeing some sideboob apparently turns us into rapists or something. But putting aside the debate as to whether Penthouse should be sold in the same store as colored pencils or whether AAFES should have a Secret Underground Porn Emporium, I truly think that people like Rep. Broun love the idea of military servicemembers being vice-free and smiling boy/girl scouts, but obviously the reality is much different.
    Which is to say that while there are people in the military who are shining exemplars of sexual Puritanism, these people are in the minority. Most single soldiers I talk to enjoy porn and alcohol. Selling it off-post might make Rep. Broun feel better, but really, there’s hardly a point (unless you want people to go off post and maybe get the hardcore stuff).

  27. “I never even bothered to learn the National Anthem which we were supposed to sing in morning formation before school every day.”

    It’s never too late to learn! Here’s an English translation:

    Fear not and be not dismayed, this crimson flag will never fade.
    It is the last hearth that is burning for my nation,
    And we know for sure that it will never fail.
    It is my nation’s star, shining forever,
    It is my nation’s star and it is mine.

    Frown not, fair crescent, for I am ready to die for you.
    Smile now upon my heroic nation, leave this anger,
    Lest the blood shed for thee be unblessed.
    Freedom is my nation’s right,
    Freedom for us who worship God and seek what is right.

  28. Advice to women:

    1) If, in the throes of sexual passion, your husband cries out “Abdul!” or “Hank!” don’t rebuke him. It was probably an honest confusion.

    2) If your husband asks you to “turn over, honey,” obey him. Don’t you want to get pregnant?

    3) Don’t “accidentally” trip one of the younger, prettier girls in the harem.

  29. Junter, there is a state religion – secularism. And Attaturk was not Attatuk’s real name. It loosely translates as Father of the Turks. Guess when he started demanding that people call him that. 😉

    Oh and Mad Max – polygamy was outlawed in the 30’s. Part of the westernization campaign. When I was a kid, though, anal sex was one of the ways that women could keep their boyfriends happy while preserving their virginity for the wedding bed. And it was a custom for fathers to hire a prostitute to teach their sons about sex after their sons reached puberty. Or, so I’m told anyway.

  30. I hate it when women show off their ornaments and make me rape them!

  31. Turkey’s actions give me mixed feelings. On a theoretical level I am opposed to their suppression of religion but in a dirty real world sense the rise of Islam in middle eastern politics is usually a step backwards even though in a pure sense Islam can be interpreted to be in sync with humanist thought.

  32. I lived in Turkey for 5 years myself, I just left there last June. Unfortunately, there’s a good amount of things people have misunderstood it seems.

    First, Rajan R is wrong, Turkish women can wear Hijabs and the call to prayer is in Arabic there.

    The Turks do in fact worship Ataturk as a demigod, the religious nuts hate it, and he did suppress religion. It’s also a crime to insult The Man as I called him. I didn’t mind it when I was there, it’s just that he looks pretty ominous in all those paintings and statues everywhere, google him and check out his scowl sometime.

    When you ask Turks about the headscarf ban, they say that the religious women were shaming the others into wearing it. The headscarf was banned at the same time that a religious government was tossed out by the military in 1997 by the way. It’s banned in state institutes (schools and gov’ buildings) btw, not everywhere.

    Turks are very nationalistic and suspicious of government and religion. They back the military to protect the state from the government. They fear anyone that’s publicly religious because they fear a religious state, there’s an interesting power struggle going on right now between the military and the government.

    Turkey’s Directorate on Religious Affairs, the Diyanet, is considered a joke in Turkey, where it’s proclamations are regularly laughed at and made fun of. Don’t take this bad translation that seriously.

  33. But I LOVE ornaments!!!

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