Showing posts with label Twitter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Twitter. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Rape and Murder of Turkish University Student Ozgecan Aslan

Ozgecan Aslan
Last week, a bright, beautiful 20-year-old Turkish university student named Ozgecan Aslan was the last person on her shared taxi known as a dolmuş. It's a common form of transportation in Turkey. A dolmuş, much like an airport shuttle van, carries up to 10 people at a time. Everyone in Turkey uses them. It would never have occurred to me to think of one as unsafe. Last week riding in a dolmuş cost Ozgecan Aslan her life. She was raped, stabbed, dismembered, and burned by a dolmuş driver, his friend, and the dolmuş driver's own father.
Turkish Women refused
to let men near her casket
At the funeral, the imam signalled for men to pick up the casket and Turkish women were having none of it. They refused to step away and carried her casket out themselves, a shockingly unusual act in patriarchal Turkish culture. It was an incredibly healthy response of contempt that signalled to the entire nation, this problem of violence against women MUST be addressed. Ozgecan Aslan, and her fate, was on the lips of every Turkish woman with fury and sorrow all week long. 

Turkey, a country famous for its denial of so many of its historic problems, is not in denial on this one. Turkey knows it has a problem with domestic violence and violence against women. The President himself called it "Turkey's bleeding wound." Last year, 281 women were killed in Turkey (that are known of - with honor killings and such you can't be sure of accurate reporting).

A Turkish actress started a hashtag called #Sendeanlat (tell your story), asking women to take to Twitter to tell their stories of how they had been harassed in daily life. Last I looked it had close to 1,000,000 tweets in two or three days. Even though the men of Turkey, know there is a problem,  I'm not sure they care enough to fix it
Murder of females is political
Graffiti about Ozgecan Aslan's murder filled the streets. It wouldn't have occurred to me to think of Ozgecan Aslan's murder as political until I saw the graffiti above that declared it so. Then I couldn't get it out of my mind once seeing it. There were so many ways it could be. Like the victims of so much state violence this year, Ozgecan was both Kurdish (an ethnic minority) and Alevi (a religious minority). Was her death going to be used by authorities to further restrict the freedom of women in the country, the way terrorism is used to justify the end of civil liberties for citizens in the West? Immediately, there were calls for women to be segregated into 'pink buses.' Others pointed to the misogynist statements by politicians that devalued women. The pattern of peeling women away from public life is underway in Turkey.

Our rebellion is for murdered women!

What fascinates me is the similarity of toxic cultures for women -- no matter where they are located. For example, I have always thought of the American state South Carolina as a state badly in need of the fresh breezes of change -- a state still nursing grievances from the Civil War. 

Just the other day, one of South Carolina's lawmakers referred to women as a "lesser cut of meat." It's easy to condemn the lawmaker, but it must be assumed that this attitude represents the population and it sells. These kind of statements diminishing women are common in both Turkey and South Carolina. Diminishing statements about women sell to the masses in Turkey too.

Recently, the Post and Courier newspaper in South Carolina examined how the good 'ole boy culture of patriarchal policy makers contribute to South Carolina leading the nation in dead women murdered by men. Despite another woman dying every 12 days at double the national rate, (and at three times the rate of South Carolina men who served in Iraq and Afghanistan combined), policy makers actively ignored a dozen initiatives to do something about the problem.

Who matters more?
The woman or the dog?
You'd be surprised --
or maybe not.
According to the Post and Courier, the only policy initiative related to domestic violence that got acted on in South Carolina was a proposal to make sure pets were taken care of when domestic violence happens. Indeed, South Carolina must value animals higher than women as 46 shelters for animals exist (one in every county) in the state, while only 18 shelters exist for women state-wide. According to the reporters who wrote the award-winning Post and Courier series "Til Death Do Us Part," a man in South Carolina can get five years for abusing his dog, but will only have to serve 30 days in jail for the first time he abuses his wife or girlfriend. 

One of the sad aspects to the Ozgecan Aslan murder in Turkey, is that the mother/wife (same woman) of the alleged murders said she had been a battered woman for years. If she had received help, and this battery had been taken seriously in Turkey, would 20-year-old Ozgecan Aslan be alive today? According to the investigative journalism of the four reporters in South Carolina, incarceration saves lives as men are separated from women. That may be, but in South Carolina and in Turkey, there appears to be no interest in helping women in that situation as men choose to view them with morality judgements as "those women."

According to experts quoted in the "Till Death do us Part" series on domestic violence, South Carolina has the most traditionalist culture in the entire nation of the United States, preserving a status quo that benefits the needs and values of the elite. Wow, does that sound like Turkey. And here's what sounds EXACTLY like Turkey, "honor culture:"
"Surprisingly little research has examined the role South Carolina’s culture plays in domestic abuse and homicides, considering the state’s rate of men killing women is more than twice the national average.One often-cited study about violent tendencies in Southern men came from Richard E. Nisbett, distinguished professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.
His research revealed a Southern “culture of honor,” one in which for generations a man’s reputation has been central to his economic survival — and in which insults to that justify a violent response.
“We have very good evidence that southerners and northerners react differently to insults,”Nisbett says. “In the South, if someone insults you, you should respond. If the grievance is enough, you react with violence or the threat of violence.”
In a clinical study, Nisbett subjected northern and southern men to a test. Someone bumped into them and called them a profane term. The reaction: stress hormones and testosterone levels elevated far more in southern men.
“He gets ready to fight,” says Nisbett, coauthor of “Culture of Honor: The Psychology of Violence in The South.”
How does it apply to domestic violence? Men who perceive their women have insulted them — by not keeping up the house, by talking back or flirting with someone else — launch into attack mode to preserve their power."      
 ~South Carolina Post and Courier, 2014 
Here are examples of that same hypersensitivity to insult in Turkey here, and here, and here.

The response of disgust that Turkish women felt and voiced about the murder of Ozgecan Aslan was the healthiest human response to this whole sad story. The challenge for Turkish women and those who love them, will be to turn their social media energy and disgust into real lasting change. Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci describes this inability to make lasting change from social media power in her TED Talk here.

Turkish women took to the streets
throughout Turkey to protest
Turkey's pattern of
violence against women
If the first step, is to drag the whole country out of denial that there is a problem, the women of Turkey, have passed that test with flying colors and not let their nation descend any further (hello, Egypt). Respect, Turkish ladies! You have my total respect!   

May the women of South Carolina find the same strength. According to the journalists in South Carolina who wrote the award-winning series, "Till Death Do Us Part," 30 women's lives and families will depend upon it in the coming year.

What I would want the women of Turkey and South Carolina to know is, you are not in this alone. One billion women across the planet are rising up each year to ask the world to change this paradigm where violence against women is acceptable. Eve Ensler began this movement three years ago and each year it gets bigger and bigger. Luckily, the President of Turkey criticized women for participating so now everyone in Turkey has probably learned what the "One Billion Rising" is all about.  Next year, may the criticisms of women dancing for change sing out across the land! Strike! Rise! Dance! One billion rising! Break the chain!
You may be interested in these other posts about domestic violence and violence against women in Turkey:

#1billionrising in Istanbul

My First Turkish Movie -‘Kurtuluş Son Durak’

You can follow 'Empty Nest Expat' on Facebook, or just sign up for RSS Feed at the right. Care about domestic violence and violence against women? Why not share this blog post to broaden the conversation.

Thanks for reading. Don't forget to Strike! Rise! Dance!

Heaps and heaps of gratitude to the amazing journalists in South Carolina whose journalism will save lives, move their state forward, and result in a more equitable environment for the citizens of South Carolina. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

#TwitterbannedinTurkey creates an opportunity for Turks to create and broadcast more than a single story about their nation

The last time my free speech was censored in Turkey was right before a local election. The entire Google Blogspot domain was shut down. The reason cited for the shutdown of Google Blogspot was someone live-streaming football games over their blog. I was new to Turkey. The fact that this censorship of an entire domain (not just one person's site) happened right before a hotly-contested election struck me as interesting.

Freedom of tweet!
Last week, I was scheduled to give a workshop to Istanbul educators on how to use Twitter. As it happened, my workshop was scheduled for the heart of Taksim Square. That Twitter workshop had to be cancelled due to protests that were so huge they made the New York Times.

The protests were a reaction to the death of a young man named Berkan Elvan who had run to the store for bread in a neighborhood with ongoing protests. On his trip to the store, Berkan was shot in the head with a tear gas canister. Berkan had been 14 at the time he was shot, had lingered in a coma for 269 days, and finally passed away at the age of 15. His death has not been investigated, nor has anyone been held accountable.

Berkan is a member of a religious minority, the Alevis, as are many of the other victims of state violence this year.

How strongly did people in Turkey feel about his death? Take a look at his funeral.

No chirping allowed.
Amazingly, less than a week later, Berkan Elvan's death is no longer in the headlines. The conversation has been completely changed away from police brutality. This week's outrage is that Twitter has been censored. Why? So that stories that would be "insulting" to those in power can not be accessed. An election is less than one week away.

Excessive drama and outrageousness happens every week in Turkey. On the one hand, that's what makes it so fascinating to live here. Yet I don't want to be like one of those Jews in Nazi Germany who were in denial about how bad it could get. They didn't leave when all signs were screaming that they should.

Twitter had a bad night in Turkey!
Faster, little bird, faster!
Hoşgeldiniz! [Welcome]

I hope for his sake he doesn't miss!

The Sultan of Twitter

The Byrds! The Byrds!

The Twitter ban may not be as cinematic as it was in Nazi Germany, but there is no doubt about it, banning Twitter was the equivalent of a book burning. All of the tweets people send are just shorter books. Even the United States State Department agrees it was a book burning.

The first episode of Twitter censorship ended with Turkish citizens breaking all records of Twitter use. As you can see, the memes about it were delightfully creative. The second episode of Twitter was harder to surmount as the government had banned more spots.
The Turkish people were ready.
Power to the people!
The government of the
Turkish Nation
seemed to willingly
trash its "place brand"
as an up-and-coming
secular democracy.
It occurred to me watching Turkish creativity erupt due to Twitter being banned in Turkey, that it was the Turkish people's golden opportunity to create more than a single story about Turkey. "The Single Story" is an idea of Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that we often get just one story in our heads about a place and it creates the entire identity of a people.
Oh, he won't fit!
Zipped shut!

Yes, the actions of  their government may have received all of the negative headlines, but the response has been fun [so far] and it continues to be beautiful. Why shouldn't the world hear and have many, many stories about Turkey!
 Sing, Turkish tweeters, sing!

You may be interested in these other posts about censorship in Turkey and elsewhere:

You can follow both my blog in Facebook at EmptyNestExpat, and on Twitter at @EmptyNestExpat.

Update: Berkin Elvan's Funeral March was memorialized in miniature by miniaturist Alina Gallo. You can read about it here.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

#EnSonNeOkudun What are you reading lately?

If one stays in a country long enough as an expat, it's easy to see places where one could contribute.

Turkey recently had its 90th anniversary and it got me to thinking about Turkish reading culture as Turkey approaches its centennial as a Republic. Reading culture here is still a flame in need of kindling, simply because of the incredibly interesting history of the Turkish language.

Turkey used to have an alphabet that looked like Arabic script. It was hard to read because it wasn't consistent, and it contained many loan words from Arabic, Persian, and French. Often court language and the language in the hinterlands wasn't the same.

Atatürk reformed the Turkish language by adopting the Latin alphabet. Think about what a gigantic change that was for Turkish people to absorb! And that was just one of the reforms he was undertaking at the time. When the Republic was formed, only 10% of the population was literate (it was an empire, after all).

I often tell my friends Atatürk and his generation changed the language so people could learn to read, the next generation did exactly that, and now the third generation's job is to learn to love to read.

I meet Turkish "reading role models" everywhere. As a librarian, I nurture, support, and help create reading communities. I thought that Turkey and the Turkish language needed a Twitter hash tag like the English-language one that celebrates reading culture called #Fridayreads. To use a Turkish hash tag that suggested #Fridayreads had religious connotations, so after another false start I finally settled on #EnSonNeOkudun.

I know people will be enthusiastic about something they just read and share it with this hashtag 24/7. But, because Friday is one of the heaviest volume days on Twitter, our beginning community of readers will concentrate their reading celebration all on one day, Friday, every week. Someone looking for a good read for the weekend is sure to find one. Weekly rituals become just that, rituals!

I hope to create conversations about books, blogs, magazine and newspaper articles and help readers discover reading culture and just plain help people find great things to read. People tweeting using this hashtag won't be only using Turkish because there's a sizeable population of Turks reading in multiple languages. Plus, there's a whole expat community in Turkey who also wants to get in on the fun. They'll be tweeting in their native languages.

One of my very favorite things about the idea is that it brings people together, rather than polarizes them. Turkish folks could use some of that right now.

I have messaged friends and my tweeps I've never even met "Can you help me launch dun? Let's celebrate Turkish reading culture - tweet your read each Friday in Turkish or English. Thank you."

The response has been so touching. People say things like, "What can I do to help? Thanks for asking me to participate. I will ask my friends to do it too." Truly, it makes me tear up. I think the phrase "what can I do to help?" maybe even more of a set of magic words than please and thank you.  It's fun to build something together with people.

So I ask you, Turks and the Turkophile community: #EnSonNeOkudun? What are you reading lately?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Gezi Park Turkish Protests: Where is a "Range of Opinion?"

Protesters doing yoga in Gezi Park
What a fascinating week in Turkey as my friends have risen up and demanded their Turkish democracy be inclusive of their lifestyles and opinions too. I say "my friends" because, like most expats, I have a few friends who support the AKP and hundreds who don't. Most of my Istanbullian friends are broadly secular, supportive of the ideas of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and are internationally-oriented global citizens. So they are completely unrepresentative of the average Turk, and especially, the average Turk who voted in the AKP-majority government.
A Turkish friend who protests
In story after story about the protests, the range of opinions reported has been very narrow. It is very easy for Westerners in Istanbul to identify with the protesters, because they are asking for things that Westerners consider foundational for a democracy: respect for minority opinion, respect for diversity of lifestyle, respect for the variety of religious expression, and respect for freedom of the press. The protests started with concern about the pace of urban transformation and sense of loss for vital green spaces within one of the world's largest cities. All of these ideas that the protesters are demanding have been ably, bravely, and amply reported. The protesters' voices are heard in story upon story in the English-language press. But you'll notice, there isn't a big range of opinion there. The protesters seem unified around these thoughts.

The views of government supporters and of the government has been very hard to find. I've been trying to find those opinions, because as a library professional, my job and my joy and my mission in life is to share information on all sides of issues. While the protesters are organized in both Turkish and English on social media and are also available in the park for easy interviewing, AKP folks must be talking to themselves on Twitter and Facebook almost exclusively in Turkish. Journalists are flying in from all over the World to cover this story, but with today's news budgets, having a translator is an extra expense some news organizations may not have. I have read hardly anything reflecting the AKP view.
Six Turkish Newspapers
All With the Same Headline
Where is a "range" of opinion
(on either side)?
The Turkish media had six front pages all with the same headline in Turkish to reflect to Turkish people the 'official' government opinion when Prime Minister Erdogan came back from North Africa; this shows there is not much deviation in the AKP opinion either. Even worse for the AKP and its supporters, their opinions aren't being expressed in English.

Even at the friendship level we expats rarely hear these AKP opinions, simply because many AKP people have not taken the time to learn a global language so they can express themselves to the world.
Protest banner decrying police brutality

These narrow bands of opinion seem to be a Venn diagram of two circles, one labeled "protesters" and one labeled "AKP." The circles seem not to have overlapping parts. Because each side seems mostly to talk to like-minded friends there is also the danger of online filter bubbles.

I remember this kind of polarization in the Bush years in America. It's the kind of opportunity Obama walked into, rallying everyone around the center. I don't know if there is a center in Turkey, but it is unoccupied at the moment - unlike Gezi Park.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Empty Nest Expat cited for excellent expat advice and resources by the London Telegraph

A cup of Turkish coffee
is the perfect accompaniment
to blog reading
It's a beautiful snowy day here in Istanbul. It was a joy to come home in the snow, and learn that sharing my expat experience is making a difference.

Today I learned that "Empty Nest Expat" was recognized by the Telegraph for "providing excellent expat advice and resources."  How fun! That's exactly what I try and do: provide advice and resources for expats and empty nesters as I share about my expat journey. I'm especially pleased this esteemed newspaper recognized my work, since I am in a period of low blogging due to taking Turkish lessons three times a week.

 I know how thoroughly the editors there work on behalf of their British expat community. Thank you, Telegraph editors. I'm glad you enjoy hearing about expat life; it's so kind of you to include a Yank!

And if you are a new reader, here's some samples of my advice. British readers, be sure and notice the last link. It isn't advice, just a wonderful celebration of my lifelong hero who was, after all, British. That's especially for you.

On Learning a Language Overseas:

Time Out for Turkish

A Review of Live Mocha : The Internet's Largest Language Learning Website

On Living Without a Car: (starting my 5th year now!):

Starting My Third Year Without a Car

How the Czech Government Delighted Me as a Consumer

On Living Spontaneously and Being Open to New People:

An Evening with the Hari Krishnas

Eating my Way through Sofia, Bulgaria

On Terrific Expat Reads:

A Trip to Provence, Accompanied by Julia Child

Hearing Tales from a Female Nomad In Person: Rita Golden Gelman


Hello, Great Big Beautiful World! (first-ever blog post)

On Downsizing and getting ready for the Expat Adventure:

"Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life"

Shedding a House and a Full-Time Role

Shed your Music

Shed your Clothes

Shed your Commitments

Shed at Work

Shed Your Books

Shed Your Furniture

And lastly, especially for my British readers, a post in celebration of a great friend to America who was a wonderful leader of free people, the greatest man of the 20th century:

"An Iron Curtain Has Descended"

Thanks for reading. And keep coming back.

Look for "Empty Nest Expat" on Facebook for more updates.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Enjoying Hometown Friends in Istanbul

 Brian Smith and me
One of the fun parts about living in Istanbul is so many friends come through town as tourists. This summer it was my  Ames, Iowa high school classmate Brian Smith and his very fun wife Fazia Ali. So many giggles! Brian is so in love with Fazia. It's moving to see. They have been married for 19 years.
Family friend Bahar
and Brian's wife Fazia
Brian is a Pulitzer-prize winning photographer. His first magazine photograph appeared in LIFE Magazine when he was a 20-year-old student at the University of Missouri.  Five years later, Brian won the Pulitzer Prize for his photographs of the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Yes, that's right, at age 25!

Because Brian started achieving so early and for so many years people are always asking him for advice and he is happy to provide it. Here's an example from his blog where he shares Secrets of Sports Photography: his favorite Olympic Moments.  It is great storytelling of jawdropping images we will all remember.

Lately, Brian has specialized in celebrity portrait photography. I love hearing him talk about his book project "Art and Soul: Stars Unite to Celebrate and Support the Arts." The book grew out of the desire of entertainment professionals to share in a deeply personal way how they had been impacted by the arts. Truly, some of the most iconic celebrities are featured. I dare you to look deeply into Ann Hathaway's eyes in Brian's portrait and not want to say "yes" to whatever she asks for! You can thumb through 15 of the portraits on the Amazon site and vote for the ones you like. All of these portraits were also featured at the Library of Congress. The stars hand-carried the book to Congress to advocate for more funding for the arts.

This fall Brian will have a new book coming out called "Secrets of Great Portrait Photography: Photographs of the Famous and Infamous." Along with instantly iconic photos like this cover shot of billionaire space entrepreneur Richard Branson, Brian shares the stories behind the photographs and how he connected with his subjects to create such unforgettable images.

I admire my classmate's work and his willingness to mentor so many young photography professionals coming up. Brian gives speeches all across America on photography topics but also on just getting started as a professional. I enjoyed the storytelling in this webinar: "Stop Waiting for Your Big Break." He frequently is invited to share on this and other topics in person.

After coming to Istanbul, Brian and Fazia went on to Athens. I LOVE this photograph he took of her there.
"My Goddess Rocks the Acropolis"

Brian Smith on Twitter: @briansmithphoto
Brian Smith on the web:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Following Eve Ensler's new play debut "Emotional Creature"

Looking back on my participation in "The Vagina Monologues," I can not be more proud of myself for having done it. Eve Ensler is trying to challenge the entire globe (the entire planet!!) to think more critically about how humanity tolerates physical and sexual violence against women, to call it out when it happens, and finally, do something about it.

This week Eve premiered a new play in Berkeley, California called "Emotional Creature." I found Jane Fonda's post about it so inspiring that I wanted to share it with you.

If you are a woman and aren't yet familiar with Eve Ensler's work, there's an opportunity coming up this February. She is asking the entire planet to rise up and dance together to let the entire world know that we stand together saying "this is not acceptable." You can check the hashtag #1billionrising on Twitter for more information too and be inspired by people all over the world who are doing the same.

If you are a man, we especially need you to participate. Eve Ensler asks good men in the "Vagina Monologues" play "where the hell are you?" It's blunt, but sometimes blunt is needed. Wherever you live on this big ball, can you help be part of #1billionrising in February 2013? Organize a dance, go to a dance, sell tickets to a dance? We need good men to help shift this paradigm.  Indeed, in someways, you are needed most.

One of the most satisfying aspects of being in the "Vagina Monologues" was doing something rather than just complaining about something. The future is now. Let's move humanity forward.  Here's Jane Fonda's post to inspire you too!

Here's the story of our Vagina Monologues production in Istanbul. The oldest post is at the bottom.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Are Guidebooks Facing Extinction?

 Travel writer Benji Lanyado in Vienna
Should he be looking at his phone instead?

My goodness, I never expected to be away from my blog for so long. This week I expect to begin blogging again, so I invite you back.  In the meantime, I was fascinated by this article and wondered if other people are using suggestions specific to the moment as you travel?  Is a newly-printed guidebook too out-of-date for you the minute it is printed? Are you turning to locals real-time via Twitter for suggestions? Click on my title to read how one traveler does it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Digital History Being Made This Weekend

Wow, if you aren't on Twitter yet, I can't recommend it enough. It has been absolutely fascinating to see the power of social networking sites when it comes to getting news out about the contested Iranian election. I spent all Sunday "watching the election" on Twitter and the difference between what's on TV and what's on Twitter is fascinating.

On Saturday, one of the huge trending topics on Twitter called "CNNFail" was "where was CNN coverage of the election?" Moment to moment reports of what cell phone networks, satellite networks, landline networks were being censored by the Iranian government were constantly reported. Citizen journalists and real journalists are twittering and videoing and letting the world know what's going on based on what platform isn't jammed and censored.

So here's the questions I have based on the explosion of Twitter reports that provides "power to the people!" It's fascinating to watch various Twitter streams come in from folks in America at the Lakers game, while meanwhile the Iranian students in dorms are worried about their safety, and yet other people around the world are organizing sympathy support by asking the world to wear green tomorrow to show support for the people who feel the election wasn't fair.

My question is "how do we judge credibility of those tweeting? It seems pretty darn easy to set up an account and pretend you are an Iranian student or demonstrator, but how do we know? Where's the corroboration? And my second question for all citizens of the world is "gee, if they were to shut down all these networks in your home country, how would you deal with it? How would you communicate?"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Addicted to twitter

Yikes, I've been on the thing like...a week. I'm already addicted. It's awesome. Mr. Tweet is awesome too. I'm really enjoying Jane Fonda, Jack and Suzy Welch, Ruth Reichel, Mark Bittman and a bunch of other foodies. Vaclav Havel is on there but he never updates. Who else should I follow in the Czech Republic and the EU besides my regular pals(who are already digerati w-a-y before me)?
Travel Sites Catalog All Traveling Sites Expat Women—Helping Women Living Overseas International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory expat Czech Republic website counter blog abroadWho links to me? Greenty blog