Turkey has recently been flooding the news because of their recent bans regarding social media. But the women of Turkey have recently come together to use social media to their advantage. Many believe that social media creates gender stereotypes and influences sexism. This may be true, but the Turkish women are using this to their advantage.
After having a few friends visit Istanbul and sharing stories about their trips I was interested in the different gender treatments that are practiced in Turkey. Two of my female friends traveled there and spoke about how they had to cover their heads at certain places such as mosques. This got me thinking about how the Turkish people separate men and women in public. After reading the article by Ceylan Yeginsu I realized the extent of this discrimination.
Thousands of Turkish women are feeling harassed on public transportation. They are outraged with men who invade their space by spreading their legs while sitting next to them on buses and trains. In the article they document a quote from a Turkish woman stating that “any woman who steps foot on public transport is at risk of sexual harassment. If you stand up you could get groped and if you sit you are subjected to a male’s leg pushing up against you.” When men spread their legs woman feel that this is just a doorway into harassment and they feel that this act is inappropriate and needs to end.
The woman took measures to stop this harassment by using Twitter. The Istanbul Feminist Collective started a campaign that reads, “Stop spreading your legs. Don’t occupy my space.” Women all throughout Turkey began to post their experiences on Twitter that related to the violation of personal space on public transit using hash tags with the campaign title. This has been a huge problem, but until recently woman were too afraid to speak out publicly about it. Twitter allowed these women to share their feelings to the public without having to physically ‘speak’ out. Twitter was the first step, and now the woman feel empowered by the amount of support they are receiving and can bring this movement out to the public. They are being encouraged to print out the slogans and wear them as stickers while on board public transit.
The women are receiving positive support from men but there are also men who began to tweet back with the idea of segregating public transportation. In any campaign it is inevitable it will receive negative responses, but I think what these woman are doing is amazing. They are using Twitter to their advantage and spreading the word about this harassment. The campaign is giving women the strength to stand up for themselves in a society that has large amount of sexism. I do not believe that this issue would have been publicized unless social media was involved, it would have continued to be swept under the rug.
Featured Image courtesy of Flickr user Mo Riza.