Women

Feminist Forum was in Ankara: Sexuality

Friday, May 18, 2018

7th Feminist Forum was held with the theme of “Consequences of Sexuality” on 11-13 May in Ankara.

Forum started with Gökçe Yiğitel and Derya Bayraktaroğlu’s art performance in Kova Art Gallery. The performance was ‘a practice of S.C.U.M (Society for Cutting Up Men)’ that was produced from a manifest of radical feminist writer Valeria Solanas.

Following the performance, the Forum hosted by many feminist and women’s organizations continued with the Award Ceremony of 13th Women to Women Story Contest. In the contest, Burçin Tetik, Lara Özlen and Sümeyye Kaan received special awards. Günce Gündoğdu received third prize; Alis Çalışkan received the second prize and Çiğdem Gönen received the first prize.

Time to talk about sexuality

Aylime Aslı Demir from Kaos GL Association made the opening speech of the second day of 7th Feminist Forum. Demir told in the beginning of her speech that in this period where events have been banned in Ankara Feminist Forum is so important for feminist solidarity. Emphasizing that for the workshops capacities have been filled so quickly due to the high demand, Demir also underlined the importance of talking about sexualities right now especially in this period where there were many criticisms saying it is not the time for such topics.

“During this session, we will talk about sexualities within a historical context, and we will see how it has been constructed and located differently throughout the history. For example, we know that in Victorian times masturbation or any kind of ‘unproductive’ sexualities were oppressed; on the other hand, we are also familiar with the sexology discussions in 1950s or sexual liberation movement in 1960s.

“But what about our geography? Today we would like to discuss the transformation of sexualities starting with the Ottoman times until republican times with the examples. In this context, Mustafa Avcı will tell us about sexuality on Dancer Boys (Köçek) in 19th century. Then Ezgi Sarıtaş will focus on the narratives challenging with heteronormativity after Tanzimat Reform Era. After all, Sevcan Tiftik will talk about the sexualities breaking the norms in Modern Turkish Literature.”

Sexuality; Then and Now

Mustafa Avcı whose PhD thesis was Kocek: A Genealogy of Cross-dressed Male Belly Dancers (Dancing Boys) from Ottoman Empire to Contemporary Turkey told about the ‘dancing boys’ culture in Ottoman times. Mentioning the socio-cultural profile of the society where women and men spend time separately at that period, Avcı indicated the homosocial and homoerotic effects of the dancing boy culture.

Secondly, Ezgi Sarıtaş, academics who had researches on sexualities in the period of 1945-55 in Turkey, had a speech on eroticism and sexuality after the Tanzimat Reform Era. Explaining heteronormativity at those times, Sarıtaş told:

“Heteronormativity says that heterosexuality is the one natural and initial. We have seen its effects especially before the 19th century in the narratives on sexuality. In order to understand that a narrative do not reproduce heteronormativity, they have to be marginalized, because narratives come out with the heterosexual love assumptions”

Lastly, Sevcan Tiftik whose master’s thesis was Comparative Queer Readings: Queer Potentials in the novels of Kulin, Mungan and Toptaş had a presentation on queer sexualities within contemporary Turkish literature. After indicating the historical change of the concept of queer, Tiftik told that in the beginning queer was considered as a concept related to LGBTIs, but now it widens its scope with the discussions on speciesism and ecology.

After their presentations and discussions, second part of the day continued with Italian radical lesbian feminist Giovanna Camertoni’s speech on Overcoming patriarchal power control in our lesbian relationships.

How do we witness dating violence within women to women relationships?

On Sunday, forum ended with a closed workshop on dating violence within lesbian relationships. The session was moderated by Zehra Tosun.

During the session, dating violence, harassment and culture of disclosure were discussed. While the participants were sharing their experiences on these issues, recommendations and solutions that feminist and LGBTI movements would give as a response were also discussed.

*Kaos GL’s Feminist Forum is supported by SIDA. This doesn’t mean SIDA agrees the content of it.

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