The Politico-Poetic Representation of Turkish Women in Türk Kadını Magazine (1966–1974)

The Politico-Poetic Representation of Turkish Women in Türk Kadını Magazine (1966–1974)

Fatma Fulya Tepe (Istanbul Aydın University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0128-3.ch003
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This chapter aims to explore the ways women are represented in the context of 20th century Turkey by analyzing four poems, namely “Türk Kadını” (Turkish Woman), “Anadolu Kadını” (Anatolian Woman), “Kadın–Ana” (Woman-Mother), and “Ayşe,” published in the Türk Kadını magazine in the 1960s. Purposive sampling was used in the selection of the poems, which were later interpreted with the strategies of descriptive content analysis. In these poems, the Turkish woman is being represented and celebrated in at least the following four ways: (1) by being celebrated for combining heroism, goodness, and naturalness; (2) by having her struggle with primitive conditions of life celebrated as yet another form of heroism; (3) by being celebrated as a creative mother of the nation, charged with finding solutions to the problems of the country; (4) by being celebrated as a hardworking daughter of the nation to whom the country owes recognition and support.
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In political poetry, politics and poetry can be connected in various ways. One such relation was defined by Percy Bysshe Shelley. In his A Defence of Poetry (1840), Shelley argues not only that poetry is “divine”, but that it “is at the same time the root and blossom of all other systems of thought”, and he asks, rhetorically, “What were virtue, love, patriotism, friendship … if poetry did not ascend to bring light and fire from those eternal regions where the owl-winged faculty of calculation dare not ever soar?” (Shelley, 1840, p. 47). Here poetry is superior to both political and moral beliefs in that it makes these beliefs vivid and relevant to people in a way that purely factual accounts cannot achieve. According to the more contemporary view of David Orr, political poetry is “concerned with a specific political situation; rooted in an identifiable political philosophy; addressing a particular political actor; written in language that can be understood and appreciated by its intended audience; and finally, offered in a public forum where it can have a maximum persuasive effect” (Orr, 2008, p. 415). What both Shelley and Orr have in common is the idea that political poetry works persuasively, bringing “light and fire” to political beliefs. In this chapter, this motivating function of political poetry will be studied and analysed from the point of view of Turkish nationalist ideas concerning the role of Turkish woman.

The poetry of nationalism is a specific form of political poetry, born out of the nationalist ideologies that were born in the aftermaths of the French Revolution. The poets of nationalist movements aim to catch what they believe to be the “spirit” of their nation: “They use its own language to describe its landscape, customs, past, myths, and hopes for the future. They inspire their people with a proud identity – and at times self-criticism and shame, hatred and militancy” (Aberbach, 2003, p. 256).

The poetry of Turkish nationalism, too, has emerged as a repercussion of historical and political developments following the French Revolution (Türkeş, 2009). Kemal Karpat notes that with the influence of the Westernization movement in the cultural domain since the mid-1800s, Turkish literature adopted social themes and “(t)he greatest literary names during this period drew their reputations more from political and social views connected with the fate of the society than from the actual literary value of their words” (Karpat, 1960: 29). For instance, “Ziya Gökalp, the formulator of Turkish nationalism and of the ideas of modernization subsequently accepted in the Republic, expressed his views first in the form of poems and advocated the use of literature to spread the ideas of nationalism and bring about society’s modernization” (Karpat, 1960, p. 29).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Nationalist Poetry: A specific form of political poetry, emanating from the nationalist ideologies that were born in the aftermaths of the French Revolution.

Westernization: A set of reforms which were launched by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of the Turkish republic, in areas like law, clothing, alphabet, industry etc.

Republican Women: Women who supported the ideals and values of the Kemalist Turkish Republic.

Anatolia: The territory of Turkey that is located in the Asian continent.

Anatolian Women: A category of women that dates back to the 1920s, referring to women of Turkish ethnic and Muslim background living in rural Anatolia.

Political Poetry: A kind of poetry that expresses political beliefs and ideals, aiming to persuade the reader to share them.

Istanbul Ladies (Also Known as Istanbul Women): A category of women that dates back to the 1920s, referring to big city upper class and educated women with a Turkish ethnic and Muslim background.

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