Cornerstones of July 15: Women Who Are More Powerful than Tanks


Insight Turkey Volume 18 No. 4, 2016

CNN International published a report entitled, “Turkey Coup Attempt: Reaction on the Streets of Istanbul” on July 18, 2016, shortly after the coup attempt in Turkey. It conveyed comments from an American who caught images from the Turkish street and stated, “Despite the older woman up front, there were no women marching with the men.” Based on this comment, the report further claimed that “the older woman was the only female in the group that was headed down ─░stiklal Caddesi (Independence Street) toward Taksim Square,” in Istanbul. Similarly, a number of accounts in the social media shared comments propagating the lack of women in protests against the coup makers while the coup was unfolding. Despite much evidence to the contrary, the reported “lack of women” has been used as the evidence for the alleged patriarchal character of the anti-coup mobilization against the secular state establishments of Turkey, such as the military. In parallel, Western media and social media accounts disseminated photos of violent male-dominated protests. To cite one example, Public Radio International claimed, “Images of protesters on the streets are mostly men… the fact that mostly conservatives are holding vigils at the squares might be a factor in women’s absence.”

Despite this early representation of the anti-coup protesters, reports proving the active participation of women in anti-coup protests started to find their place, especially in the Turkish media. For example, the Daily Sabah described women as heroic when it comes to defending their nations. In an article entitled, “The Women of Turkey’s Anti-Coup Protest,” one woman is quoted as saying, “I don’t care what others wear, and they don’t care about what I wear. This is not about lifestyle or politics. We were there for our country. It was a matter of life and death for Turkey.”

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