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Have sexism, attacking women become part of Turkish right's political strategy?

Male chauvinism dominates mainstream media’s reactions to outspoken socialist female politicians and activists.
Co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas (L) and Figen Yuksekdag celebrate inside party's headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey, June 7, 2015. Partial results from Turkey's parliamentary election on Sunday put the ruling AK Party on 43.6 percent of the vote, with just under two-thirds of ballots counted, a level which could leave it struggling to form a single-party government. The results, broadcast by CNN Turk, put the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) at 10.6

The pro-Justice and Development Party (AKP) daily Turkiye published on Aug. 13 a controversial column titled “Figen Yuksekdag and Women of Cancerous Souls.” Figen Yuksekdag is the female co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). Targeting the image and reputation of Yuksekdag, the piece reinforces strong prejudices against left-wing women among the Turkish political right, particularly Islamists. It states that leftist women lose their femininity, dress tastelessly and try to act like men to be considered equal — hence their incessant rough, violence-advocating rhetoric. Trying to identify the source of this male anger, the column argues that these women suffer from ugly duckling syndrome and suppress their libido. Then the piece takes a rather insulting turn against Yuksekdag's personality and claims she is advocating violence because she has not been with a man. Twisting Yuksekdag’s own words about her personal life choices from a candid interview, the offensive column declares all leftist women are “bigoted, irrational and despotic.”

This is only the latest example of pro-AKP media attacks on female socialists; it is not an exception. Indeed, the AKP’s Ankara mayor, Melih Gokcek, is notorious for his constant verbal clashes with left-wing female parliamentarians. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc recently told a parliamentarian from the HDP to “shut up as a woman” on live television. Similarly, several times women parliamentarians from left-wing parties have become victims of physical attacks from right-wing male deputies during parliamentary sessions.

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