#Direnkahkaha Selfies Strike Back at Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc’s Claim That Women Shouldn’t Laugh in Public
On Monday, the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister, Bulent Arinc, took it upon himself to make a speech about “moral decency.” It was as horrifying as you probably think it was; even owing for cultural differences, the remarks that made up the bulk of the speech did nothing but perpetuate sexism and oppression. His claim that a woman “should not laugh loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times” was among the most deplorable statements made — but the women of Turkey aren’t standing for it. They’re striking back in the form of the #direnkahkaha movement, posting images on Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks of themselves smiling, laughing, and enjoying life.
The term itself translates into English as “resist laughter”; other terms and hashtags associated with the movement include “kahkaha” — laughter — and #direnkadin — resist woman. One of the first tweets with the hashtag was sent out by writer and political commentator Ece Temelkuran, who said about Arinc’s speech to the BBC, “It was an extremely outrageous and conservative statement.” But after #direnkahkaha started trending, she said, “My whole timeline was full of women laughing — which was extraordinary, and kind of beautiful.”
According to the International Business Times, the hashtag took off mere hours after Arinc’s speech — and even better, it’s still going strong now.
It’s spreading globally, too, with women from other countries lending their support:
And men, as well. Tweeted Turkish TV presenter Fatih Portakal (as translated by the BBC), “Oh God, let this be just a joke. If women can’t laugh in public, then men should not cry in public”:
…Which, by the way, is a direct dig at Arinc himself, who reportedly has a tendency to tear up during speeches made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Furthermore, the LA Times reported that Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Erdogan’s primary rival for the election taking place on August 10, “If there’s one thing we need, it’s the hearty laughter of women.”
So today, and every day, laugh long. Laugh loud. And laugh often. #direnkahkaha