View from Turkey: Whether secular or traditional, hegemonic masculinity still exists in societies

Illustration by Necmettin Asma

Illustration by Necmettin Asma

Hegemonic masculinity continues to remain a chronic dogma within societies regardless of being secular or traditional. Thus studies have a lot to overcome 

When we say gender studies, we mean studies on the issues of women, men and LGBTQ. Gender studies, however, everywhere around the world, are mostly understood as studies specifically focused on women.

So why is this the case? One reason is because of the huge desire and ambition of women researchers and academics who have the intention to pursue understandings of womanhood, femininity and motherhood and who want to challenge the established societal values imposed on women. Another reason maybe is that women in many places are mostly encouraged to work on women’s issues. So gender studies’ focus on women has become a boundless area of research and has branched out into many fields, becoming complicated and thriving in interdisciplinary studies.

When we talk of equality and justice between men and women in gender studies, we should not only talk about one side of it, as there is a reciprocal relationship between the sexes, and we cannot understand women’s studies without also focusing on masculinity.

Feminist studies have somehow evolved and merged into identity and identity politics. As Judith Butler criticized gender identity politics, when being a women turned into an identity of its own and a legitimate tool in the political sphere, becoming very popular, normative and formative identities of women in a certain period of time and place are built that are simultaneously descriptive, binding and exclusionary of “others.” This has been the biggest challenge in feminist theory.

As a matter of fact, masculinity studies were very late to the game and, as a part of gender studies, only started to bear its first fruit in the 1990s. Capitalism, militarism, nationalism, traditionalism and neoliberalism were reevaluated with a perspective of the “personal is political” and masculinity studies found out that men hold the dominant position in gender relations as the real pragmatic users, beneficiaries or hegemons of any established order in various societies and contexts whether it be patriarchal society or post-modern business sectors, and even academia, politics and anywhere else you can imagine.


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