lux film prizeGiornate degli Autori - Venice Days

10 September, 2010

Cogunluc – The dimension of gender in modern Turkish society

Yuce’s Cogunluc provided us with a clear snapshot picture of contemporary Turkish society in many aspects. Through its vigorous narrative mechanisms as well as actors’ roles, it helped us come to several conclusions in terms of the gender position, relations and roles within the Turkish society, a society which currently fights to instill the democratic and egalitarian sort of consciousness in its people. First of all, it is not astonishing that masculinity is normally associated with the power, be it political, economical, social and so forth. This is a universally commonplace notion. What is surprising though to observe, is that even young male teenagers have a sort of dependence on their austere patriarchal rule, to whom they must show obedience. Therefore, males have a substantial autonomy which is essentially governed by their fathers’ masculine perceptions and expectations. The ‘man’ in the Turkish society is socialized to be hegemonic and dominant in many respects, from his sexual intercourse with women to his place in the house and wider society. The man is mirrored in the film to essentially be the one who legitimately takes the initiative to chase after and flirt with women and who has the appetite to have sex with them (remember the scenes in the club and also the scenes of Mertkan’s friends pushing him to chase after girls instead of going a drive with the car). Other manifestations of this attitude could be the scene that Mertkan’s mother complaints to him while ascending the stairs and holding shopping bags, that he should have hold more bags and not only two, besides, there is also an element of gender segregation in the everyday interaction of a family, since it was admitted that men watch soccer programmes in a separate room and women watch their preferable programmes in the another room. Masculinity is extremely associated with nationalism (man must have an excellent military command and patriotic devotion, hence it is imperative that he joins the army as soon as possible), business and profit (man must have economical independence in order to prove his social power that will force him to thrive on both a micro and macro level). We’ve also noticed that endogamy, namely the intermarriage of people from the same socioeconomic status is the ideal form of marriage for upper social classes. Mertkan is frequently urged from his father to behave like a normal Turkish man. He kept on saying: “Boys are dying for their country”, “Get a haircut like real men do” etc. From this attitude, we understand that social norms as well as the preservation of a family’s reputation and dignity is of fundamental importance. Moreover, the army is a dynamic social institution whereas education is especially undermined by men. Women who deviate from the autocracy of their masculine-oriented culture and by themselves choose to follow the “humanized” path for the sake of their salvation are unavoidably regarded as “European whores” as it is a blasphemy for their Muslim regime to do so. Umay, the Turkish young woman of the film Die Fremde but also Mertkan of “Cogunluc” will constantly symbolize the intense struggle of people from Anatolia to humanize their sociopolitical status quo and establish an egalitarian system, whereby every kind of freedom, rights, opportunities and free will be enjoyed by all humans, women and men.

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