In the face of misogyny, Turkish athletes stand united
by Gulfer Akkaya*
According to the press, in July 2022, the new president of Caykur Rizespor closed down the women's football clubwithout even explaining. We then learned that the women's team players worked for minimum wages. Even though the men's team was relegated to the Second League, the women's team was the one that was chosen to be closed down. The team's technical director expressed her surprise. She said they had not been given a simple answer for this and only knew of financial difficulties. She added that the women's team did not have a high budget like the men's team.
At the same time as the women's football club was closed down, the infrastructure of the women's handball team was also dismantled.
Both sports were considered men's sports.
Strong women's bodies
Sport is an activity that gives people confidence and strength, whether played professionally or on an amateur level. First, it allows women to have a healthy body.
Women need to overcome the body image stereotypes that society imposes on them. Instead of looking at a woman's body through a sexist point of view and a male gaze, sports enable women to acknowledge the female body and learn how to have a healthy and muscular female body. It breaks down the perception of the firm, muscular body as a representation of masculinity.
The misogynists who cannot tolerate women's economic, social, or political empowerment cannot accept women in sports. We experienced this when the national women's volleyball team beat China 3-1. In recent years, we have often heard about the achievements of women in various sports. Undoubtedly, these are significant achievements that motivate other women. While planning their future, many girls see women picking up the ball and saying, "I will be an athlete and achieve this," as models.
What frightens the misogynists who target female athletes, mainly because of their sexual orientation, is that these women achieve one success after the other and inspire other women.
Despite all of their efforts, women's solidarity continues to grow stronger and stronger in all areas of life, from politics to sport and from art to cinema, against the pressures and interventions of men.
Women will continue to say "my life, my choice" to those who consider women worthy only of housework.
Ebrar Karakurt, who was targeted because of her sexual orientation by those who could not accept the success of the national women's volleyball team, was defended by another national athlete. National Taekwondo player Kubra Dağlı.
Because she intervened in defense of Ebrar, Kubra targeted herself. The attacks on Kubra Daglı were many. A sexist Twitter account wrote: "You are not tired of being a loser. Even if you do fifty somersaults in a second, they will not love you as long as that scarf is on your head". Twitter users criticized this comment, which was later removed.
Their misogyny and hate for women's solidarity have become so rampant that they use the headscarf to polarise society when attacking a female athlete.
No matter what they do, more and more women, regardless of their ideology, realize the inequalities. They understand that men see them as objects to be possessed. Sexists who want to send women home cannot tolerate those women who do not obey them.
In an interview, Kubra said: "I broke many stereotypes with my achievements as a closeted athlete. Some people said: 'You're closed, what are you doing in this sport? You are a woman; stay at home. A gymnastics coach at university even said: 'Go home and clean your house.' She was upset, but she did not give up.
Women won when Kubra and Ebrar won. To win more, women must continue to stand up for their rights, regardless of their beliefs, nationality, or sexual orientation.
Women will continue to say "my life, my choice" to those who consider women worthy of housework. They will go their own way and realize their dreams by asking no one.
* The article first was published on 21 July 2023 in the "Kadınİşçi"