Ideas About Women’s Fiction
Answering Feridun Andaç's Questions:
I think that being a woman is an essential factor in my being a writer. Life in many ways, is an adventure of discovering and being oneself, even if one is not aware of it. I dare say that writing is the most important - if not the only- way of being my true self. During the adventerous struggle of being oneself, the contradictions and the conflicts between being a full person, and being a woman (womanhood as a gender carries a lot of social restrictions), the miseries female bodies suffer under the double standarts of sexual morality suppress women's lives, and make them difficult.
I am inclined to accept the notion of women's literature. I would like to emphasize that by this notion I mean works created from a stand point of criticizing patriarchal structures, rather than those witnessing women's lives, or narrating women's sufferings. And I am one of those who think that women writers' approaches to plot, discourse, and imagery tend to display qualities distinct from those of men.
I have written numerous articles on women's subordination , and liberation, approaching the matter with feminist consciousness, which is the direct way of expressing myself as a writer. Fiction is different though: Works of literature should not at all adopt the characters of a manifesto; otherwise they would loose their inherent attributes. A fiction writer should be capable of penetrating into the inner worlds of his or her fictional characters, whether they are male/ female, young/old, rich,/poor, thus identifying with them, as well as viewing them from a critical distance which is the media where the impacts of a writer's feminist consciousness would be apt to be discovered.
Answering Buket Aşçı's Questions:
Fiction is an art of delicacy. Therefore there are no short cut answers to questions concerning fiction. Who can assert that male writers are not competent in creating female characters, when we have Tolstoy's ANNA KARENINA, Flaubert's Mme BOVARY, Halit Ziya Uşaklıgil's BİHTER and VEDİDE? A writer has to clear his or her mind from prejudices in order to be able to study a character, male or female. Some writers do accomplish such a self purification during the process of literary creativity. Tolstoy as a man, was an orthodox moralist, but as an author he does not judge Anna. The fact that Anna commits suicide towards the end of the novel, is not as some hasty interperators may put it, an act of punishment Tolstoy passed on his protagonist; but an objective equivalent of the dilemma imposed on by the circumstances of the period, and the conflincting character of her love relationship.
It seems to me that the critical point is that the author of the 19th. century realistic novel does not let even the tip of his pen touch words of sexuality; the "before" and "after" of a sexual intercourse are depicted at most; not the incident itself. Therefore, carnal desire, satisfaction or disillusion only reverberate in between the lines, like a mist or some scent.
Can it be only a coincidence that during the second half of the 20th. century, the women figures of our literature that were drawn with perfection, and whose names are probably among the very first to occur to one's mind -such as Yaşar Kemal's MERYEMCE, Fakir Baykurt's IRAZCA - are elderly women remote from sexuality? It is rather difficult to claim that our male novelists have been able to step out of the boundaries of their phantasies and biased opinions, as far as sexuality is concerned, while creating female characters. Prejudices and personal phantasies do not necessarily be outwardly conservative or traditional. It is quite possible to express clichés and ancient prejudices about various sexual aspects of femininity in a rather tolerant, even a courageous erotic scene.
I tend to think that works by younger generations of male writers - such as Murathan Mungan, Nedim Gürsel, Selim İleri and Orhan Pamuk - are inclined to discover and reflect women as they really are; or at least try to do so.
I believe that there is such a thing as women's fiction. An author's identity is neither shallow nor simple, but is rather, a complex of various identities. I believe we - as readers - must respect the author's choice of identity - which results either from a deliberate or probably subconcsious approach - while he or she is creating. I think that some of our woman writers such as Adalet Ağaoğlu, Tomris Uyar prefer to emphasise their identities as intellectuals. On the other hand, Pınar Kür, Latife Tekin, İnci Aral, Ayla Kutlu do not draw back their female identities while creating. You can place me in the latter group. What is meant by the term female identity is an area much wider than the narration of female experience; and it seems to me these two concepts are mistaken for one another very often. And of course women's fiction is not written only for the female reader and clearly addresses the whole of humanity in spite of some contrary assertions.
My definition is that women's literature has some specific tones and vibrations that claim the emotions, sensations, experiences and culture forced upon women by their subordinate social position, or all these sentiments and experiences acquired by women during their struggle to transcend their subordination.
It is undeniable that one of the voices silenced by women's suppression is that of their sexuality. When one refuses to suffice by expressing the experience of a female body between the lines, like a vague shadow, but attempts to actually narrate it using words, one has to face the challenging rudeness of language which needs to be broken in order to create a female discourse; let alone the difficult task of shaping into words an ages old silence of feelings and sensations. I daresay all the languages of the world would force a woman writer to create a new discourse if she dares write about sexuality. I wonder if there exists any language that does not contain words of scorn for the female body and female sexual experience.