The Image of oWomano in Turkish Political and Social Thought: On the Implications of Social Constructionism and Biological Essentialism

Ozman A.

TURKISH STUDIES, vol.11, no.3, pp.445-464, 2010 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 11 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2010
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/14683849.2010.506735
  • Journal Name: TURKISH STUDIES
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.445-464
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: No


This article critically evaluates the writings of two well-known intellectuals, Ismayl Hakk Baltacolu (1886-1978) and Vala Nureddin (Va-Nu) (1901-1967), and seeks to assess the implications of social constructionism and biological essentialism for the formation of Republican woman's identity as presented in the works of these authors respectively. The central aim of the article is to reveal and re-appraise the patriarchal mentality underlying Turkish political and social thought by examining the connections between social constructionism and essentialism, as two main factors reinforcing gender inequality in the context of Turkish modernization and the nation-building process. Firstly, it is argued that the works of both authors reflect the dominant gender structure in Turkey, grounded on the subordinate position of women. Despite their divergent positions, neither of the authors provides openings for gender equality. Baltacolu advocates social constructionism emphasizing the socio-cultural at the expense of the natural during the identity formation process while Nureddin supports a biologically essentialist world view based on the oallottedo nature of the female. Baltacolu's social constructionism leads to gender (in)equality based on osameness,o within the contours of the public life whereas biological essentialism of Va-Nu, signifies an ontological rejection of gender equality. Secondly, it is argued that both of the authors adopt a functionalist perspective emphasizing the reproductive function of women for men, family and nation and approach the issue of woman's identity within framework of the tradition-modernity continuum.