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Ringvorlesung Turkey-Related Gender Issues


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Fractured Masculinities:

Social Change and Gender Relations in Turkey

Cenk Özbay

Turkey has been experiencing an economic crisis and illiberal authoritarianism under the populist “one-man” political regime in the last decade. Gender equality and democratic rights regarding the body, sexuality, and intimacy are increasingly challenged and attacked by nationalist, Islamist, and (neo-)traditionalist predispositions—as demonstrated in the country’s recent withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention by a presidential decree. As the hardships that the Covid-19 Pandemic has deepened and worsened unfold, these detrimental circumstances became more tangible and troubling, especially for younger citizens, who are referred to as “Generation Z.” In this presentation, I will bring together data from different research projects to underscore the contours of the contemporary “crisis tendency” among young men in Turkey. When even an untrained eye looks at their political orientations, their employment patterns, their approaches to gender relations and sexual dynamics, their incorporation of popular culture, or their methods for self-investment, they can observe the sense of frustration and embezzlement amid change, instability, uncertainty, and precariousness. I call this mode of gendered being that haunts young men in Turkey as characteristics of a “fractured masculinity” in order to present the current state in which they interpret themselves, their relations, and their aspirational social positions.