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The reflections of the Ottoman-Turkish feminism on the literary works of Nezihe Muhittin

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2006
Coşar, Seda
With the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, improving the status of Turkish woman and creating a new republican woman image turned out to be pivotal issues. Women’s rights were considered as the indicators of the Turkish modernization, therefore were placed at the core of the agenda of the new republican regime. However, before the foundation of the Turkish Republic, there was a strong Ottoman-Turkish Feminism which came into existence in the late period of the Ottoman Empire and continued in the early years of the Turkish Republic. Although the Republican Reforms are considered as the unique source of equality between Turkish man and woman in the public sphere, the contributions of the Ottoman-Turkish Feminism on the progress of the status of the Ottoman-Turkish women should not be overlooked. The Ottoman-Turkish Feminism aimed at ameliorating and improving the living conditions of the Ottoman-Turkish women. Gaining equal political, economic and educational rights with men were the crux of the movement, as they were in the Western First Wave Feminism. However, struggling for the abolish of the female slavery, forming a national family, creating a new woman image were the other issues that were discussed widely during the Ottoman-Turkish Feminism. Women’s associations and women’s magazines were the two important vehicles of the Ottoman-Turkish Feminism in the struggle of gaining equal rights. Nezihe Muhittin was one of the leading activist woman who took part in the various activities conducted under the roof of the Ottoman-Turkish Feminism. Muhittin participated in the foundation of diverse women’s associations and she was an efficient social worker. Besides her activism, Muhittin was also one of the eminent literary figures of the time. She contributed to the formation of the new woman image as she wrote various short stories, articles and novellas all of which touch upon crucial issues about Ottoman-Turkish womanhood. In the light of this theoretical framework, this study focusses on the literary works of Nezihe Muhittin, analysing the reflections of the Ottoman-Turkish Feminism on the novellas written between the years 1911 and 1944. With the aim of detecting the implications of the Ottoman-Turkish Feminism on the literary works of Nezihe Muhittin, frequently referred themes are compared with the main tenets and discussions of the movement. By the same token, the good and evil woman characters in the novellas are compared with the appreciated and criticised woman types of the time. By doing so, it is aimed to demonstrate that Muhittin’s literary works can be considered as the products of the Ottoman-Turkish Feminism.