The badass reason Turkish women are posting pictures of their backs on social media
Hell hath no fury like politically-motivated women scorned. And we are all about it.
This week, reports are flooding in about a new social media-based protest involving thousands of Turkish women all in response to sexist comments made by the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan is a conservative running for re-election who is, as the New York Times says, “largely unpopular with women.” Across Instagram and Twitter, women are literally turning their backs on the political leader after comments he made about a group of women who turned their backs on his campaign bus. What were those comments? “Of course, my decency does not permit me to tell you what [this move] means.”
According to those familiar with Turkish slang, the disgusting joke implied that the women were turning their backs on the president as an invitation for sex. In truth, they were turning their backs on the president in support of the People’s Democratic Party (also known as HDP), a burgeoning opponent to the president’s Justice and Development Party (or AKP).
The story and its sexist implications quickly swept across Turkey, sparking a string of back-facing photos and a new hashtag, #SırtımızıDönüyoruz, which translates to “we’re turning our backs.” The social media campaign quickly became the number one trending topic in Turkey and peaked at number 3 on the global Twitter feed.
The protest has been a long time coming, with Turkish women frequently facing sexism both on the street and from their own leaders. This past February, women donned black in remembrance of Özgecan Aslan, a 20-year-old college student who was murdered after she resisted a rape attempt. Meanwhile, President Erdoğan has consistently proved himself an enemy to the rights of Turkish women, stating that women’s “delicate nature” makes them unfit for manual labor and that Islam “has defined a position for women: motherhood.”
Add that to his more recent statement that women will only have their voices heard if they join parliament and it’s no surprise that the aforementioned liberal-leaning HDP has garnered the support of not only the country’s women, but many other Turkish minorities, including LGBTQ+ individuals and the 13 million people who make up Turkey’s long-oppressed Kurdish minority.
The fast growing HDP party boasts a man and woman at its helm, the first openly gay politician to run for Turkish office, and has several women in the running for this Sunday’s parliamentary elections. And if the party should get the 10% of votes it needs to gain access to parliament, it will deprive President Erdoğan’s AKP party of its much-needed majority in the governing body and effectively put an end to the president’s campaign to give himself more executive powers while whittling away at the rights of the nation’s women.
As one woman, Nurcan Baysal, told the BBC, “If the HDP wins, women will win.”