Saturday, July 22, 2006

Anti-Gay Turkish Advice Columnist Dies

This war is taking its toll on me. I spent the day in a cafe, and around me were young, rich Beirutis carrying on. I heard the words "A.U.B." about a hundred times. I don't tend to like rich people. I'm not really enjoying Amman.

This blog is keeping my mind off the bad things, and the fact that the United States is sending Israel an express shipment of bombs for continued attacks. The whole world seems to want the war to end, except for Israel, the U.S., Syria, Iran, and Hizbullah. Hmmmmm.....

Anyway, about the dead woman:

The Turkish Daily News reported yesterday the death of Fatma Güzin Sayar, 84, the woman behind the famed Güzin Abla, which gave advice to thousands of Turkish people about their lives. A quote:

Men are from Mars:

Coming from an elite Istanbul family, Güzin Sayar began her journalism career in 1952. In the 1960s, she began an advice column, “Sorun Söyleyelim” (Ask and We Shall Tell) in Son Havadis newspaper. The brand name “Güzin Abla” began as the column title in the 1970s, as she continued answering letters from the readers.

She married a commander when she was 16, despite the reactions from her family. Her marriage ended with a daughter and a cheating husband. When her second marriage also ended with her husband cheating on her once more, she channeled her frustration to her column, cautioning thousands of young women towards marriages and men in general.

At one point, she was among the 30 most powerful women in Turkey. Güzin Abla, naturally, appealed to the more conservative and the uneducated. Although she was strictly against women losing their virginity before marriage, she also sent the message that women who were not virgins should not be socially excluded. Homosexuality, for Güzin Abla, was a deviation, a disease that needed to be cured. It was treated as a disease with very low chances of being cured, next to cancer and AIDS.

While she advised women to be more passive in relationships, asking them to be patient when heart-broken, she asked men to be more assertive, to talk to women when there was a problem.

Careful readers would notice how emotional she could get about adultery, as a woman with two broken marriages for the same reason. She was very harsh on affairs with married men, something definitely to stay away from. Most of her answers treated women as “victims,” who were forced to get married or who were stuck in unwanted relationships. And as far as Güzin Abla was concerned, men could hardly be trusted.

A secure platform:

Some of the readers' letters acted as cautionary tales. Güzin Abla deliberately published some of the letters trying to give lessons about premarital sex, homosexuality and adultery. She always became an important barometer of sexual relationships and took pride in acting as a power figure and an expert, despite her lack of education on psychology, sociology or gender. She didn't have any problems with recommending doctors and gynecologists to her readers, another one of her eye-brow raising quirks.

When we look back at Güzin Abla's role as the advisor to millions of Turkish people for almost four decades, we see how little has changed since her first columns in the 1960s. Young women are still scared to death of premarital sexual relationships, men are still cheating on their wives, afraid of becoming gay and not satisfied with their penis sizes. And women are still left for younger women.

It's not really fair only to look at what Güzin Abla advised millions of readers throughout the decades, as she went through cycles of her own. But it's important to see how she managed to create a secure platform for decades for all the cries of help coming from unhappy and confused people throughout Turkey.

I think the article says a lot. First, it seems to me that the author, Emrah Güler, doesn't agree with Güzin Abla's advice: she makes extra effort to point out the reasons behind her advice about marriage, and is extra cautios about making sure Alba's views on homosexuality are seen as only belonging to Abla. To me, it seems that Güler likes Abla, not because she gave good advice, but because she was a strong woman who sttod up for what she believed in. That I can respect.

I really like the article. I can't say I'm not happy that this woman is no longer writing anti-gay advice, but this article inspired me in ways I can't explain. May God watch over her soul.

2 Comments:

Blogger Red Tulips said...

Al-Fil:

I just want to say that you are in my thoughts daily. I have been reading your blog for months now, and find your blog to be refreshing and honest - providing news that the media just does not cover. I am hugely pro-gay and anti-Jihadi, and have linked your website to mine for quite some time now.

I hope you and your family are safe, and wish you the best of luck. However, at this point, my opinion of the whole mess is that an international demilitarized buffer zone between Israel and Lebanon MUST be established before any peace can be declared. I think this is possible - I hope!

Overall, the common theme is that religion is the source of all evil. It is what leads to non-thought, and it is what justifies hatred of gay people. The only way to ensure the betterment of the world is to ensure that people begin to THINK.

So thank you for being a bright spot in these otherwise dark and desoolate times. You brighten my days, and I am sure the days of many of your other faithful readers.

Thank you. You are making a difference in the world.

July 23, 2006 6:42 AM  
Blogger Al-Fil said...

Dear miss r,

Thank you very much for your kind comments. You inspired me to write a post. It should be the next one in this blog.

July 23, 2006 3:15 PM  

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