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Chapter Eight What Women’s Experiences in Disadvantaged Families in Ankara, Turkey, Have to Tell about Patriarchy Gülden Güvenç Turkey is among those countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and South and East Asia that have what has been called a classic patriarchal system (Kandiyoti 1988, 278). Kandiyoti defines this system as one organized around the patrilocally extended household that gives senior men authority over all other residents. This authority is regularly reinforced by men’s violence against women. Girls are married at a young age, join the husband’s family of origin, and have to obey the male family members and the senior women, in particular their mother-in-law. The young married woman, the bride (gelin), is labeled as the “daughter of a stranger” (el kızı) and is separated from her own family. Brides are not allowed to work outside the home, but their status increases when they give birth, particularly to sons (who are expected to provide old age security), and later when they become another bride’s mother-in-law. In classic patriarchy, the mother-in-law controls younger women’s obedience to men. Thus, as women become mothers-in-law, they gain considerable authority in the household, and at times senior women can even come to have more power than their husbands, because as these senior men age, their household authority wanes (Kandiyoti 1988, 279). In order to survive under patriarchal conditions, most young Turkish women today continue to adopt the traditional repertoires of intrafamily sacrifice and respecting elders; only a few challenge these approaches via resistance and struggles for power (Güvenç 2014, 81). However, the contemporary context for patriarchy differs radically by socioeconomic class. The particularities of patriarchy for different classes of women can only be understood and ultimately contested if researchers investigate women’s familial conflicts and the personal dilemmas 157 resulting from patriarchy firsthand. These issues are different for women in disadvantaged families and those from the middle and upper classes. Middle- and upper-class women are more likely to struggle with the disjunction between patriarchal values and ideas imported from the West. Women from lower-class families are much more likely to still be living under the conditions of classic patriarchy. The case of the poor families who have migrated to cities , which I analyze in this chapter, provides a novel opportunity to investigate the conditions that foster patriarchal relationships when traditional extended household residential patterns are changing. Furthermore, two foundational conditions of classic patriarchy—the authority men traditionally derived from their full employment (in agriculture) and the support they traditionally gained from their extended patrilocal households—are likely to have eroded somewhat with impoverishment. Yet patriarchy persists. It persists in large part in the hearts and minds of the actors, including women. It is the psychology of the women living in patriarchal societies that I explore in this chapter. To do so, I draw on a study I conducted on how disadvantaged women in one urban squatter settlement talk about their responses to their husband’s violence and other features of their familial relationships. Other researchers have alluded to the psychological influence of patriarchal beliefs and practices, including the effects of religion and education, on women (Abu-Lughod 1985; Chong 2006; Khurshid 2015; Manago 2014; Marrow 2013), and they have called attention to women’s apparent willing subordination to these patriarchal beliefs and practices (White 2013, 170). In the research reported in this chapter, I went a step further, closely examining the way women speak of the terms of this subordination and the possibilities for challenging it. My research questions were as follows: 1. How do urban disadvantaged women collaboratively (that is, in focus groups) make sense of their experiences regarding intrafamily stress, violence, anger, and miscommunication in a patriarchal context? 2. How and to what extent do they justify or naturalize in their talk the patriarchal relationships they experience? 3. What are the possibilities under the changing conditions they face for finding new ways to resist these patriarchal relationships? In order to answer these questions, I aimed to identify, from their talk, the ways these women positioned themselves in their families, the strategies they 158Güvenç used to do so, and the emotions they experienced in the process. My goal was to interpret the contradictions and dilemmas the women faced and to evaluate the potential for their construction of their own agency and hence new forms of subjectivity. This research thus sheds new...


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