What started out as a Twitter ban in Turkey, spearheaded by Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, quickly backfired, resulting in an astounding 138% increase in tweets (VentureBeat): #TwitterisblockedinTurkey and #DictatorErdogan just to name a few that were trending (CNN).
Turkish Tweeters are not going quietly, somehow managing to find ways around the bans and thus continuing to expose Turkey’s leadership to the public, which is suspected to be the whole point of the ban to begin with. Ofcourse, one can assume that this ban is a direct result of Turkey’s current state of political turmoil, which is only heightened and expressed through media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. So, why is Twitter taking all the blame for this?
Not only does this ban spark the media even further, thereby exacerbating Turkey’s position under the microscope, but this seemingly trivial ban might deter the EU from opening their arms to Turkey, maintaining that “Social media has a vital role to play in a modern democracy, and helps to promote transparency and vibrant public debate (CNN),” something that Turkey is currently unwilling to accept.
With all of these things at stake, why does the Turkish Prime Minister allow and, even worse, promote the Twitter ban, and what other implications does this ban create? One could (and should) argue the strong connection made between the Turkish Prime Minister, Erdogan, and his distaste for women, specifically in the context of women’s roles in social media.
Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is not necessarily an ally to Turkish feminists or women in general, judging from various comments he has made to the public. At the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul in 2010, Erdogan stated that he does not “believe in equality between men and women (Spiegel Online).” And more recently, back in June, thousands of women were protesting Erdogan “after he announced his intention to crack down on abortions and Caesarean section births (Spiegel Online).” He is also said to have likened the act of “female self-determination” to “feminist propaganda”—finally solidifying his obvious position on Feminism (Spiegel Online).
In Ealasaid Munro’s article, titled Feminism: A Fourth Wave?, the feminist geographer explores the possibility of a Fourth-Wave Feminism which functions almost completely through Internet activism. Munro’s article was clearly written before Turkey’s current Twitter-free (for the most part) society; however, her research strongly suggests that a Twitter ban in a place such as Turkey, though devastating to the overall population, would impact feminist Internet activists the most, according to her statistics: “There is evidence, too, that the uptake of new technologies such as Twitter is growing in geographical areas where women still face social injustices – in Turkey, for example, women make up 72 per cent of social media users (Political Studies Association).”
Is Erdogan’s Twitter ban simply a fear of “fueling anti-government rhetoric (CNN)”? Or is it more than that? There is much evidence to show that Erdogan’s Twitter ban is a direct attack on women, and more specifically, female Turkish Internet activists.
By Cassandra McDermott