In this article, I will be trying to show the reader the truth about the claims of “good Turkish values” in the light of a study by Prof. Yılmaz Esmer, Turkey Values Atlas, 2012. I will also partly include some other research and make some comments at the end. I actually wrote the Turkish version of this article last year, as a response for some politicians’ claims that some ugly things like racism, discrimination, etc. do not have a place in the genetics of this “beautiful” society. However, this is not a direct translation, but it is close enough.
The following “values” apparently do not exist in Turkey’s traditions, culture or genetics:
“Supporting the idea that women are not the property of their husbands.”
“Supporting the idea that all humans should be equal regardless of their nationality/ethnicity.”
The values above (in quotations) are the ones that do not exist in our “beautiful society”, and are not acceptable for our “decent traditions”. Let us visit some other research and sources.
Such research is conducted fairly often. Here is an excerpt from one by the Sabancı Foundation.
It is against our values to coexist and not have prejudices against other people.
When asked as “Jewish”, instead of “Jewish family consisting of Turkish citizens”, the percentage of participants who would not want such a family as neighbours becomes a little less than 70%. This is a great example to show that being open minded and without prejudice is not among the values of our society: 90% of the participants have “never” met, even one Jewish person. Another “number” shows that equality and public awareness are also against our societal values: the percentage of people who do not want disabled persons as their neighbours is 70%. This is huge…
If we go back to the previous study, 71% of “women”, yes, women think that the man should be the leader of the family. 59% state that “women should always obey their husbands, and not second-guess their word”. Women are actually supporting this. You would not even want to learn about the opinions of men. This percentage is 40% for the most promising part of the country, the province of İzmir, and 71% for the least, Eastern Anatolia Region. Our cities that seem like the most pro-gender-equality places are “not that pro”-gender-equality. According to the Gender Equality Index by Inglehart and Norris (as stated by the study), Turkey is in the 48th place among 60 countries. Among the people who are university graduates, the percentage of the opinion “women should always obey their husbands” is 59. The ratio of participants who think “university education is more important for male students, rather than female students” is 33%.
I will go on now. The ratio that says “if there is unemployment in the country, men should have the privilege to be hired”: 60%. This can be compared to the percentages in come European countries, as our politicians usually argue that Europe is in the brink of collapse, and there are many ugly values they hold, but we do not. Denmark: 2%, Finland and Sweden: 3%. This is not a calculation mistake, these percentages are “actually”, really 60, 2, and 3.
Agreeing the statement “a pre-school child would be negatively affected if his/her mother is working”: 80%. Again, a comparison with the same region: Denmark: 9%, Sweden and Norway: 20%.
A last example from “the Atlas”; agreeing the statement “men make better politicians than women”:
66% in the year 1990,
62, 62, and 71% in the years 2000, 2006, 2011 respectively.
But wait, there is more. The Global Gender Gap Report, taking into account the 135 countries where about 90% of the world population lives, presents a set of statistics. In the general ranking, Turkey is in the 124th place among these 135 countries. Below Turkey are countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, etc.
According to the data of the World Economic Forum 2010, we are şb the 125th place among 134 countries in the general rankings, thanks to our developing, brilliant economy. The ranking is the same for gender equality. Turkey is also in the 31th place among 35 countries investigated under the Rule of Law Index.
Yes, there is even more. There are many other examples and statistics we could provide here, all showing that our country is doing worse every single day. This suggests that necessary precautions and steps are not taken for these issues, and probably they never will be. So, providing the reader with other examples will not be doing the best, if the examples above do not seem important enough.
I do not agree with our politicians, public figures or some of our journalists on the idea that “we should be proud of the values in our society’s genetics”. Seeing all the things I mentioned above in person, everywhere I turn my head, I think they are not values to be proud of. They are societal values to be ashamed, and even afraid of. It seems meaningless to me to try to defend such a tradition and culture. We should instead be trying to fix it.
I would like to share my last comments on this issue.
I think there is an issue of illusion about values here. Some cute, humane and beautiful “values” most Turkish citizens argue that exist in the society do not exist. Some values that are thought of as cute, humane and beautiful values by most Turkish citizens are either “not that cute, humane or beautiful”, or plain terrible and potentially dangerous. Some other “ugly” values such as racism, sexism, religious discrimination, etc. that do not exist in our society according to many Turkish citizens, actually exist heavily, deeply everywhere around us. We MUST accept these facts as outlined by pages and pages of research and try to fix our society, instead of living in an illusion that we do not need fixing. A broken society where most people think that everything is going alright cannot ever be better than a broken society where most people think that not everything is going alright. In the latter, people would at least have a grasp of what actually is going on, and everyone would have the chance to contribute in fixing what is broken.