Turkish Women React to Sexist Remark with Laughing Selfie Social Media Campaign
Women around the world have become empowered by hashtag 'DirenKahkaha,' which means 'resist and laugh'
For people of Islamic faith, the month of Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year. After having fasted from dawn until sunset for 30 days, the people of Turkey annually hold the Sugar Feast, a three-day celebration where plenty of sweets are eaten to jubilize the end of Ramadan. It was during this festival, which took place last week, that Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc made a sexist comment about the moral decline of today’s society, sparking a social media campaign that is empowering women.
According to Arinc, women should know what is decent and what is not, and laughing is not decent. ‘She should not laugh loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times,’ he said, adding that women should not watch soap operas because they promote a bad lifestyle, not should they spend hours on the phone having conversations that should take place in person. Though he touched on other topics, as well as some that pertain to men, these comments made women around the world extremely angry. As a way to fight back, Turkish women have began posting photos of themselves laughing on various social media websites with the hashtag ‘direnkahkaha,’ which translates to ‘resist and laugh’ in English.
Arinc is a co-founder of Turkey’s Justice and Development party, of which current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is also a part of. As presidential elections are set to occur on August 10th, the comment has raised already high tension between the political parties. In fact, the comments could make a big difference for Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Erdoğan’s main rival, who took to Twitter to say ‘We need to hear the happy laughter of women.’
Now that the campaign is gaining some attention, women around the world are joining the cause, including British actress and Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, Emma Watson. Though not all women have as much influence as Watson, a simple selfie and a hashtag is enough to share outrage at Arinc’s comment, as well as a powerful step towards demanding gender equality across the globe.