My maid of honor as well as my godchild, I used to take her on forest adventures to find Winnie the Pooh and mica, nature’s looking glass. But she has been a girly girl since she was a baby, still picking pink whenever possible. She likes the look of designer things; don’t show her replica Dolce & Gabana jeans with an upside-down label. Smart, sweet-natured and shy, she speaks her mind on big stuff with brevity and a marked lack of ambiguity, a rare trait in anyone.She has known - and shared her sexual identity with us - since she was 14. Hosting her here, it was easy to see how lucky she is to live in my hometown Atlanta where the large gay community has deep roots and is openly respected. Like many cities in the U.S., it has a network of gay couples who house and care for young gay people, from newcomers to outcasts. But America is no model. In the same country lifted up by Harvey Milk and a flourishing gay movement, conservatives' rejection of gay marriage was pivotal in delivering the previous two presidential elections to George Bush. Seemingly more inclusive, President-elect Barack Obama has nonetheless invited Rev. Rick Warren to offer the invocation at his inauguration. Gays and lesbians cannot be members at Warren’s mammoth Saddleback Church. My former boss of five years, Ellen Hershey, a devoted education reformer and mother in San Francisco, wrote a letter to the editor published in the New York Times last week. I read it aloud to my niece. "President-elect Obama should have given this honor to a religious leader who welcomes all Americans equally into the house of worship, no matter how God made them," Ellen wrote. Telling timesAlso during my niece’s visit, Turkey failed to sign the EU-led initiative calling on all countries to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity forms no "basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention." A few days ago, the first publicly known transsexual in Adana, Şaban Çelen, was found murdered in the street. Ahmet Yıldız, who represented Turkey in a gay pride march in San Francisco last year, was shot dead this year with a machine gun. In November someone used a shotgun to kill transsexual Dilek Ince in Ankara. No one was charged in these cases. Not long ago, Ege Tanyürek, a young gay man, committed suicide in Adiyaman. Turkey does not outlaw homosexuality but provisions of the Turkish Criminal Code on "public exhibitionism" and "offences against public morality" are sometimes used to discriminate against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. There’s no telling how many lesbians are hiding under headscarves and in plain sight. Common sense and percentages in places less closeted suggest that gay folks are in most Turkish families and every neighborhood. In a quiet office in Istanbul, mothers and fathers of gay children have begun meeting with volunteer parents at Lambda Istanbul, a human rights organization defending lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. "At first they are reluctant but their relationships with their children are improving," a representative told me this week in a phone interview.In a sphere that doesn’t look kindly upon women out past dark, lesbian women no doubt face a special challenge to connect with peopleÉ "or even find someone to talk to," she added.For a kind word or a good ear, connect with Lamda (0212) 245 7068 www.lambdaistanbul.org. Their Taksim office is open until 8:00 p.m. Biguti, meaning "hair curler," is a friendly lesbian bar on Balo Sokak (No. 20, 3 Kat) between Nevizade and Istiklal. In Ankara, contact the Kaos organization at (0312) 230 0358 http://news.kaosgl.com. Internet searches will reveal many groups in major cities.
Now, for the second time in his year and a half of life, I’m lying here unable to move or care for my child. The babysitter came fast so little Max didn’t have a chance to turn the stove dials, filling the house with glee and gas by as I lie here prone. In this current immobile state, I spent the day reading what was in arm’s reach. Naomi Klein’s chilling book "The Shock Doctrine" recasts the emergence of free market capitalism as a patient plan to obliterate the senses in order to set its policies in motion: Think post-9/11 unencumbered torture begetting more hatred and war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina’s "cleansing" the city of its poor and South East Asia’s beachfront development of resorts where villages had been. Free market success, Milton Friedman explained in so many words, relies on chaos when people have lost sense of their rights and will submit to free market principles that obliterate safeguards for a balance of wealth and funding for health and education. Friedman’s last article before he died in 2006 said Katrina had given New Orleans a chance to do away with public schools in favor of the private charter schools - belittling the notion of a quality education for all. In the wake of his article, opportunists took his notion to New Orleans, 45,000 teachers were fired and kids with no public schools left had to carry vouchers to new private schools that are unattached to public accountability.Wealthy addiction boomingA couple of magazine pieces were also within grasp: One in the New Yorker was about a guy making the most of an upturn of wealthy people seeking drug abuse treatment and the other in Harper’s was about a guy whose business cleaning out foreclosed houses was booming. Both reveal the state of our chaos, but the latter was an intimate portrait of people whose lives had just been emptied - as wealthy addicts get wealthier.While in London last week for a film festival, conversations turned to economic woes and we overheard young people talking about upping the ante on gambling online. In Istanbul, friends say they have less and less business coming in at work. Same, say friends and family all over the U.S.But between muscle relaxers and sips of whiskey, one could view Klein’s diligent dissection as a prescient look at the good that comes from being knocked flat on our backs, unable to move economically. I can’t help thinking that this crisis might be the end of (a) history, to turn Francis Fukuyama’s famous free market book title on its head. Now we have that rare opportunity to rebuild an economy that is better and fairer, with leaner habits and more safeguards for people who need them most. The economic woes don't have to destroy us: We should recognize new chances - and good riddance. For example, I imagined Max's free will and crayons running loose on our walls just before gassing up the place. In my shock and confinement, I knew this was a lifechanger, and it had to be the beginning of getting strong again from the core. In a moment of confluence as I was writing this, Max found my wallet and emptied my credit cards into the toilet. Now, that’s the kind of policy change I’m talking about, son. Happy New year.
I’m still having trouble grasping what Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said next: "One cannot learn swimming on land. One reason that women’s employment seems low is the unregistered work."
Perhaps this was a coded message to millions of women in low-paying jobs with no contracts, benefits or rights to march seaward in rebellion behind textile worker Emine Arslan. Arslan is entering her sixth month of a solitary sit-in protest in Istanbul against her employer, leather goods supplier Desa, which fired her days after she joined a union. A Sink or Swim Revolution.
When world leaders in gender equality came to the Bosphorus this week for the International Conference on Women in Governance, featured on this page, the Balkans and Spain presented Turkey with a lesson on moving from total rejection to implementation of gender quotas.
Women represent 9.1 percent of the Turkish Parliament and 0.56 percent of local administrations, while the European Parliament is 30 percent female. With ongoing campaigns from groups such as the Association to Support and Educate Women Candidates (KA-DER) and The Turkish Coordination of the European Women's Lobby, or EWL, the demand for representation has largely fallen on deaf ears at the prime ministry level Ğ which ensured that the matter stay out of the state’s next five-year plan.
Turkey’s top business group TÜSİAD, employers’ organizations and unions have embraced using a quota system in Turkey’s governance. The leading opposition People’s Republican Party, or CHP, backs it as well, though their record of including women hardly reflects such a view.