The adultery and the headscarf debates in Turkey: fusing "EU-niversal" and "alternative" modernities?
Onar, Nora Fisher and Müftüler-Baç, Meltem (2011) The adultery and the headscarf debates in Turkey: fusing "EU-niversal" and "alternative" modernities? Women's Studies International Forum, 34 (5). pp. 378-389. ISSN 0277-5395
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2011.04.009
The principle of gender equality is part and parcel of the "EU-niversal" canon which aspirants for membership to the European Union must adopt. This would appear in sync with a Turkish national project that long aspired to convergence with European modernity and which flagged women's emancipation as a symbol of such convergence. Yet, in recent years pro-religious groups have sought to reconfigure Turkey's engagement of modernity, including extant readings of women's rights. This paper draws on the literature on "multiple modernities" to examine the views on gender equality articulated in Turkey and their alignment with those set forth by mainstream figures and institutions in the EU/"Europe." It does so by canvassing two recent debates over criminalizing adultery and permitting veiling in universities. The article reveals that the positions of secularists of all ideological backgrounds tended to converge with mainstream EU/"European" positions, whereas pro-religious arguments sought to fuse "EU-niversal" and Islamic perspectives. This finding draws into focus an inherent dilemma in Turkey's engagement of (alternative) modernity in which the democratic empowerment of the conservative majority may result in a more restrictive social setting for women.
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