Monday, March 10, 2008

Images of Women

While I was thinking on the question of women, suddenly a strange idea came to my mind. I decided to match some images of contemporary women with Baudrillard's last three phases of the image:

1) "It masks and perverts a basic reality" (a poster designed by Turkish Army to celebrate International Women's Day):

While I was in preparation class for high school, we were studying English for 25 hours a week. I was eleven and it was the most fascinating experience that I had ever had. As my imagination was pulsated with fantasies prepossessed by Jules Verne, Gulliver, Ivanhoe, etc I remember that I was spending some of my time by burying my head into a worn-out atlas and daydreaming about the exotic people that speak with mysterious words. There came an English lady teaching us a new, unthinkable words with stories. We were reading Longman Target English books and every word that we learned was associated with an anecdote about Adams family. “Lilly is a gossip, Molly is a gossip too” was a legendary maxim of that fictional and imaginary revolution etched in my mind. Unfortunately, we had spent the subsequent six years by studying the freakin’ English grammar. Of course we read some samples from English literature but everything about the English language turned into perfunctory wanderings of the arrested development of this revolution. Then I had lost all my interest and passed the examinations by cheating in all the possible techniques that you can imagine. As the English courses were not innovative enough to stimulate my imagination, I invested my creativity for the novelty in the art of cheating.

The image above is the poster designed by Turkish Army to celebrate International Women's Day. At the left side there is a quote form Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the chief of Kemalist revolution: “Our women ought to be much more enlightened, much more productive, much more knowledgeable then men”. This poster is signifying the utopic juggle of semi-capitalist Turkish Army (Turkish Army possesses one of the biggest holding companies in Turkey, OYAK, mostly associated with French capital) as a counter demonstration against the recent disgraceful quarrel on headscarf. There is a herd of five petit-bourgeois women here, representing a military officer, a doctor, a lawyer and presumably a bank manager and a girl who seems like an accountant. As you may noticed, there is no place for underpaid working-class women, unpaid farm women, typically headscarfed scrubwomen, usually uneducated baby sitter women who look after the kids of those petit-bourgeois women, girls that subjected by honor-killings, women yoked with prostitution who ruin the “blessed” marriages of those women in the image, illiterate Kurdish women and girls deprived of access even to the rubbish Turkish wisdom awashed with nationalist agitation, and numerous class of women despised and oppressed that I forgot to enumerate. The deplorable conditions of the Turkish women who were not represented in the image are the symptom of Turkish bourgeois.

After the War of Independence, and ensuring some formal political rights for women by the goodwill of Kemalist Enlightenment, subsequently Kemalist revolution recalled its authentic roots composed of merchandise capitalists, local landlords, insignificant number of industrial capitalists and mandatory assistance of foreign capital. This is where the development of condition of Turkish women has been arrested. The question of Turkish women has been reduced to a robotic discursive illusion abstracted from the factual disgrace towards working-class women. It is now functioning as competiton of novelity in the kitschart of cheating. As Baudrillard said, the image above “is an evil appearance: of the order of malefice”. Meanwhile, in fact, I am seduced by the image of sterile petit-bourgeois women. It made me itching to write a novel like Marquis de Sade.

2) "It masks the absence of a basic reality":

When I defined the image of veiled Iranian women as “It masks the absence of a basic reality.” there are two mysterious (at least for me) Lacanian ideas in my mind: The curtain is the idol of absence. and the reality is the lack of intersubjectivity. Therefore, I don’t consider veil and the Sharia dress codes as tools to make women invisible or hide them from the public gaze. For instance, the reality of capitalist exploitation is the lack of intersubjectivity between capitalist and labourer that manifests itself as the twofold meaning of surplus value. And the reality of the oppression of Muslim women is the lack of consensus on the classification of women’s role in the society, originates from the ideological exertion to subjugate the secular world to the spirituality of Islam. But, after 1500 years, this perverted “REALITY” has no factual foundation in secular-material world. Thus, instead of being an instrument of the concealment of a basic reality, the Shaira dress code functions as a mask to conceal the absence of the reality. Because, there is no scientific and convincing evidence to justify the antiquated gaze that perceives woman “as the source of ‘corruption’ and ‘chaos’.” Then, the only choice for Muslim rulers is to exhibit the veiled women body as the idol of deception and seduction which does not fit the reality.

3) It bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum:


Nadia A. said...

Those are some really good comparisons.

Mehmet Çagatay said...

Hello Nadia,

Thank you.

I'm sorry that I didn't reply your previous comment. Most of the ideas in my post were speculative by the reason of my straining to write something new about the subject.

I will write some interpretations for the images...

Wannagoforaride said...


"Molly is a gossip", "Terry has a fast car" cümlelerinin bir şeyler ifade ettiği birileri var mıdır acaba hala dünyada diye bir araştırayım derken denk geldim blog'unuza. Zevkle okudum yazınızı. Teşekkürler.

Teoman Akben