“Real men objectify women with dignity and decorum”

Ta-Nehisi Coates has a post up about eviction, masculinity, power, class, and violence.  Near the end he throws in a line about objectification, after observing that the men who cat-call women on the streets tend to be those without a certain kind of power:

Real men objectify women with dignity and decorum.

From the comments (which are often worth reading on his column):

Samquilla: “Real men” objectify women by polite head-patting such as deciding not to hire them for certain positions, not paying attention to their thoughts and ideas, etc., not by yelling cat calls in the streets. That is the province of men who don’t have the power to objectify in a less visible and more socially sanctioned way.

Ta-Nehisi Coates: The point I am driving at is that profane exhibitions of power–rioting for instance–are not exhibitions of lower morality. The morality isn’t in the exhibition, it’s in the actual belief. Men who cat-call are not men with less morality then men who don’t, they are–more often–men with the same morality, but with less power. […] My point is we often mistake the display of power for a display of morality.

Turkey remembers the massacre of Alevi intellectuals in Sivas twenty years ago.

Today Turkey mourns the 20th anniversary of the Sivas Massacre.

On 2 July 1993, poets and other artists, mostly of the Alevi faith, met in the town of Sivas for a festival celebrating the 16th century Alevi poet Pir Sultan Abdal. Aziz Nesin, a writer and humourist had, on the previous day, given a newspaper interview in which he acknowledged that he was an atheist.

Though it is far from true that all Alevis intellectuals are atheists, they are sometimes perceived as unbelievers by Suni Muslims, because they are not required to engage in public displays of their faith – most Alevis do not observe the fast of Ramazan, or prescriptions about drinking alcohol or eating pork – and because they favour secularism – many Alevis are Kemalists. Alevism is also known for promoting a greater gender equality than other Muslim sects: Alevi women do not cover their heads and are not required to dress ‘modestly’, Alevi men and women pray together, at home, (as opposed to women at home and men in the mosque), and are strongly encouraged to go to school and university. Alevi Muslims represent around 30 % of the Turkish population.

At prayer time, on 2 July 1993, the festival goers in Sivas were preparing to watch a play, adapted from a poem by the revolutionary writer Nazim Hikmet. The actors were banging drums, which angered those who were on their way to prayer. The anger spread to a crowd, who demanded that Nesin be expelled from the town, and who pulled up and destroyed a statue of Pir Sultan Abdal from the square in front of hotel where the festival was taking place. The town officials and the police did little to contain the crowd, and according to some reports, even encouraged them. At the end of a long day of terror for the intellectuals trapped in their hotel with their families, the crowds set the hotel on fire. 37 died.

Can Dündar’s excellent documentary retraces every moment of that terrible day, with filmed evidence, interviews from survivors, their relatives, and the then mayor of Sivas.

Films of the moving, shouting crowds form a striking contrast with the peaceful demonstrations Turkey has witnessed in the last four weeks. The desire for blood, the need to destroy all traces of the artists’ presence and of their (lack of) belief, is palpable and frightening. Before the riots started, a journalist interviewed Nesin to verify the newspaper claim that he is indeed an atheist. Upon receiving confirmation the journalist was unable to contain himself and cried out: “Why do you disrespect our beliefs!”

Another contrast is that the crowds in Sivas were mostly male – the men who were coming out of their friday prayer – as were the poets and artists who participated in the festival (at one point one survivor states that their children and ‘women friends’ were in the hotel with them).

The Gezi park protestors have already expressed solidarity with the survivors of the massacre. It is highly likely that tonight, the protestors will find a way to commemorate the victims. 


Shifting Taboos & Profanity in English

NSFW: profanity (even if they don’t pack quite the same punch that they used to)

An article at Slate
looks at how profanities and taboo words are changing in the English language.  (Shoutout to KG for posting this on FB!) Here are some choice quotes:


“”We all say them [swear words] all the time. Those words are not profane in what our modern culture is—they are, rather, salty. That’s all.””


“There are, he says, “a number of things going on with fuck.””


““There used to be a shock value in saying fuck in public,” says Allan, “but I think that’s totally gone.””

[OP: There is still shock value in saying the word in certain contexts (e.g. church, family get-togethers, in front of young children, etc), though definitely not as much.]


 “”I think it’s going to be a long, long time before we lose fuck.””


“What’s left is the one category of taboo utterances that seems to be swimming upstream, actually ascending the offensiveness spectrum.  “What you can see becoming more taboo are racial slurs, but then also anything that kind of sums someone up,””


“People with disabilities generally used to be looked at and laughed at, but that’s not allowed anymore. And it’s becoming more taboo.”

That is really fucking good news.