Meltem Arikan



When we examine the system of government we have after thousands of years of male domination, we see that it perpetuates itself through two basic practices: one of these is the use of violence, and the other is fear. The male-dominated culture has obtained its power through these practices and continues to wield it not only over women but also over men.


Brought up with fear, children develop into women and men who are alienated from their bodies. During our childhood, we’re told that monsters will come and take us in the dark, God will burn us in Hell if we lie, and it’s a great sin to touch our bodies. Our parents scold us if we don’t do as we’re told. It’s easy to list page after page of such examples. What’s more difficult to realize, as adults, is that while we were trying so hard to be accepted so as not to be punished or condemned, we were being conditioned.



When this abusive archive is compounded by the sexually based traumas that all women and men experience before puberty, and these traumas derive from extremely strong fear, the preexisting fears exponentially expand. The bloated egos we create to suppress these fears develop alongside us during our adolescence.


Disconnected from our bodies and nurtured with fears, we, women and men, have learned what violence is. We believe we have at our disposal this single weapon: power, as defined by the male-dominated system, that requires us to be guarded, to be able to frighten, oppress, control and to have a big fat ego.



The disciplines and principles of the male-dominated culture allocate no real value to the idea of existing in accord with sexual identity. Consequently, neither women nor men ever seek to become fully aware of their own powers. It is exhausting to fight against exclusion, ill treatment and non-acceptance. When you accept life under such conditions, however, you not only pity yourself but also slyly manage to control people around you by glamorizing this self pity and calling it “sacrifice.”


Violence changes shape. You find yourself being the abuser as you play the role of abused. Or, since you don’t seem to have a choice, you may assert that you are different but still resort to the obligation to be powerful as defined by the male-dominated culture. Money, status and title, the tools for this so-called power, become the weapons with which you surround yourself. You rule with them to avoid being ruled.



It isn’t your existence that becomes powerful but the feeling of security created by these weapons. Your choice to be what you are, to exist as a woman or man, is disregarded because such a choice would lead to disarmament. And what’s more, for consciences smudged with fear and violence, it is almost impossible to develop fearlessly and disarmed. Confronting the mirror to face the truth is never easy. This requires courage, a lot of nerve.



The ego screams “me, me, me!” To reach an understanding absent from this “me” would mean the end of the male-dominated culture, and so it is proscribed. The struggle to exist as an inquiring, thinking woman or man is systematically trivialized. It is always “the more important things” that are awarded prominence. This is, of course, because, if women and men were to exist in accord with their sexual identities, then it would become almost impossible to govern them with fear and violence, and the continuance of the dominant order would be put at risk.



We’re told there’s no need to inquire, but should you feel the need to do so, your inquiries must not concern your being. When you do not exist, self-hatred develops. The ego you’ve created to prevent you from seeing this hatred needs to be nurtured so that the pretend lives of women and men can be imprisoned in the same painful cycle. Should you think, should you break out of the thought patterns that are imposed on you, the rules of the game would be broken. The show must go on.



This is exactly where censorship comes in. Censorship needs your ego to be alienated from your being, because censorship begins by defining the “other.” The worst aspect of this is that we women and men choose not to see that we’ve been marginalized and become “the other” to one another. We begin this process by censoring ourselves and then have no choice but to do exactly as the others around us. Those who cannot exist cannot bear those who can. Everyone wants more people around who are just like them. Majorities are crowds that consist of women and men who cannot exist. As long as crowds remain crowds, as long as no priority is given to the question of women and men existing in accord with their sexual identities, censorship will always be present in our lives and will look as natural as breathing. Censorship is violence and fear embodied in a beating stick.



Editor’s Notes: Photograph one by Felipe Morin; seven and eight by E. Dronkert; two by Bea Serendipity, three by IstoletheTV,  four by Jason,  five by Kyla Borg, six by Najwa Marafie.


Previously published September 25, 2014 at News Junkie Post. 


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Meltem Arıkanis a Turkish novelist and playwright. Her fourth novel Yeter Tenimi Acıtmayın (Stop Hurting My Flesh) was banned in early 2004 by the Committee to Protect the Minors from Obscene Publications, with the accusation of "Writing about the non-existing incest fact in Turkey, attempting to disturb the Turkish family order with a feminist approach.” The ban was lifted after two months and Arıkan has been awarded with “Freedom of Idea and Statement Prize 2004” by the Turkish Publishers’ Association. She published her 9th novel in 2009.  Stop Hurting My Flesh was recently republished in Turkish and will be published in English in 2015.



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