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Feminity as a Fetish: Turkey and Germany

Written by Sabine Küper on . Posted in Feed the Sense, The Passenger

In 1961 Germany and Turkey signed an agreement about the migration of Turkish workers to Germany. In the 70th Turkish movies about this subject were produced either in a dramatic or comedian style. The Gerta- or Helga- movies were comedies about Turkish wifes and German mistresses competing for Murat or Şaban. The movie “A Turkish Girl in Germany” from 1974 was one of them.

While the plots of these movies are harmless and simple, the construction of “the other” they caused was not. In Turkey female Germans are confronted with stereotypes of their sexual availability. In the construction of the other own desires are projected on a collective stereotype of another person or another culture. While Turkish migrants in reality were rather isolated and had reduced access to German Females the movies glorify a desired reality, where patriarchal role models are functioning regardless of the social reality. In TV-Shows like “The Foreign Bride” (2012) these stereotypes were causing a bombastic rating success. People in Turkey loved to watch 10 Turkish men with their mothers and ten foreign Females in a flirting TV-Show. The participants had to live in the studio together for a couple of month. Tensions were usually solved by the education of the foreign, “wild” female having to obey to Turkish customs. The American Photo model participating and a poor young man from Konya with his headscarved mother were winning at the end after greasy scenes of the bride kissing the hand of the mother in law in spe to make her forgive the Bikini Photos she had posed for.

In Germany of the 1970th to 1990th the tendency to victimize female migrants was fed by similar movies constructing stories mainly around murders of honor and other horror-stories. In the movie “Şirins wedding” (1975) by Helma Sanders the twenty year old Şirin travels from her East Anatolian village to Cologne. She is searching for her fiancée. After having lost her job in a factory Şirin gets the victim of a women trader. As a prostitute she meets her fiancée Murat one day.  He sends her home to the village, where her family to save the family’s honor murders her. In “Yazemin” (1991) from Hark Bohm the daughter of a migrant family starts a shy relation with a German young man of her age. The family wants to send her back to Turkey to separate the two lovers. Yazemin escapes with her boyfriend and is expelled from her family.

Both movies follow the tendency to glorify the German societies liberal structures and to exaggerate the middle-age-like rigidity of the Turkish social structures. A Black and White picture suggests the ideal of assimilation to the safe heaven of the German society. The female is seen as the weakest and more accessible part of Turkish society. The German’s wish to incorporate the other by labeling the object with suppressed own aggressions is the result of a complicated collective psychology. After the end of Fascism in 1945 the elimination of millions of people was regretted but hard to process for the individual. The feelings of guilt were transferred to the image of the good German, that regrets and never kills again. The reality was beamed to the subconscious and is erupting in a projective way in these movies.

Feminity as a Fetish for a desired or rejected civilization model is existing in Europe and Turkey as well. The construction of the other is hindering both cultures from getting a more realistic picture of  the self and the “other” cultures.



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