Istanbul is full of passionate people, buzzing with emotions. So much is happening all at once that you feel alive with such stimulation. The locals are full of different emotions during the day – from happiness to anger – and they are not shy about showing it. The attitude is more like „I feel something, so you will get your share!“ You don’t get the choice to accept or escape from it. Oh, the generosity of Turkish people!
Catcalling is a common daily ritual, almost a part-time job. You always see men sitting in the street, sipping their teas and staring at people (specifically women) all day, not bothered with anything or anyone else. They are especially good at something that I call „eye-raping.“ It is the move of the head, scanning a woman from her toes to her head, and if the attention is focused on somewhere particular, the brain starts to come up with words. Then these words come out of their mouths and the eye-raping becomes ear-raping. You cannot avoid it. It’s already out there. Of course wearing earplugs is always an option, but there are too many people and cars to watch out for, so that’s not very practical.
Once, on my way to university, I was going up stairs in the street and a man passed by me. Within two seconds or so he said to me suddenly, „Let me f*** you in your a**, my love!“ My love? What does that have to do with love? And how dare he calls me his love?! I went inside the train station and started to cry. I could not take it anymore. I was tired of being eye-raped, ear-raped, catcalled and humiliated in public.
And the worst part of it all is that these men, the words they utter – you can’t simply just it all block out. I’ve often wished there was a block button somewhere on them where I could reach out and switch them off. Now that would be a great button!
It happens in real life and it happens even more in the internet, where at least there is a block button.
Since I created a Flickr account in 2008, I have received a lot of messages and comments from all kinds of people. Naturally everyone is entitled to their opinions, but some of them were too weird and disturbing to be ignored, let alone respected. There have been people wanting to lick my toes, offering their services to clean my apartment or wash my underwear. All very exciting. But sometimes it gets really strange when they try to find out which street I live on, or what my favorite restaurants are… Creepy!
My online block list grows every day. Here is a selection of some highlights from my inbox. Enjoy!
All Images by Eylül Aslan