Thursday, 23 June 2011

The (Turkish) Male Mentality

You'd think after all these years I would be used to the male attitude.  Turkish men on the whole do feel they are superior to the female race.  They're not likely to change.  After all the women here have encouraged them.  When a boy is born into a family, he is spoilt rotten.  His mother, grandmother, and aunts indulge him and pander to his every whim.  Girls, on the other hand, are raised to know their place...their purpose in life is to make sure the men are happy.  Of course it's not the same everywhere in Turkey.  In the larger towns and cities, women have careers, they have important roles to play and they do their best to be seen as equal to men.  In villages, however, time stands still.  The old habits still exist, and will probably continue way into the future.

Those foreign women who are married to Turkish men often find it difficult to adjust to the Turkish male mentality.  They are swept off their feet with the charm that oozes from Turkish men...oh yes they are very charming....and romantic and so different from the men they perhaps have been used to.   But it's at this point in the relationship...before commitment...that groundrules have to be established, or the marriage is doomed to failure.  And so many do fail.

A lot depends on the woman really.  She may well be the subservient type.  In which case she will fit right in.  However, if she has a strong character...and heaven forbid...opinions (like me) ...then there's a lot of adjustment to be made.

All marriages need compromise, whether inter-racial or not.   There has to be a determination on both sides to want to make it work, but it's not always easy.  It's important for the Turkish man to understand the differences in our cultures....and to accept these differences.  It's equally important that we as foreign women understand and accept the differences in their culture.  But most important in all this is communication..if that breaks down it's inevitably the end of the relationship.

Mr A and I have had our ups and downs over the years...lots of them...but after 13 years together I guess you could say that we've cracked it.   Any rows or disagreements we have are generally about money (or lack of it), but can also be down to his Turkish male mentality.   Fortunately the latter isn't so much of an issue these days.   Many hours of conversations over the years about how different we are, have more or less resolved these issues.  It's not been an easy journey..we've split up a couple of times because it had seemed impossible to make it work.  Above all...the marriage is based on love.  Not the exciting passionate romantic love of the early days, but a deeper love that grows over time.  That is why we make the effort to accept and respect our differences, and we do our best to compromise.  That's how it works.

I hadn't intended to talk so much about this when I started this post.  I was going to talk about the Muhtar and the rubbish, and the man who repaired my oven last night!  It's strange how you can start writing about something and your thoughts run away with you!

The's getting on for two months since it's been collected.  The temperatures hit 40 degrees yesterday so you can imagine how bad it is.   I'm angry with the Muhtar.  I saw him yesterday and told him so.  Ah...but I'm just a mere woman...he shrugged his shoulders and dismissed me.  I asked Mr A to phone him again yesterday.  Mr A informs me that the Muhtar can't find anyone with an available tractor and trailer to collect it.  Mr A just accepted that.  They are men....they don't fall out with each other...they don't make a big deal of it....they're not bothered.   I give up!

My oven has been out of order for months now.  Before I went to England in April, I found a man in Milas who may have been able to repair it, but it was impossible to explain to him how to find our house.  I've been waiting for Mr A to find the time to collect the man and bring him here, but there just hasn't been an opportunity.

Mr A came home on Tuesday night.  Before he left early yesterday morning he suddenly told me that he knew a man in the village who worked for Beko.   My oven is made by Beko.  "How long have you known this man?"  I asked.  "Oh since we moved here" came the reply.   So why hadn't he mentioned this before?  He had forgotten!  Aaargh!  So he called at the man's house before setting off to work, and the man promised to come to fix the oven last night.  Which he did.  It needed a new element as I suspected and the job took him 15 minutes.  All this unnecessary waiting and inconvenience.

Talking about the Turkish male mentality...this is what happens most times when a women attempts to deal with problems, or buy large items in shops, or take out a contract for telephone lines and internet etc. The men can't seem to acknowledge the fact that we mere women are capable of dealing with such things.  It's the man's job!   The Beko man filled in the invoice.  He asked for a name.  I gave him mine...but no...he didn't want that...he wanted my husband's name!   Years ago, I would have made a fuss about it, and insisted he took my name.   But now...who cares?  I gave him Mr A's name and shrugged my shoulders.  If it enabled him to leave feeling important, having put another woman firmly in her place, then so what?  I can live with it!

Today my friend Gwen is coming over to stay for a couple of days.  After her embarrassment last time when the inlaws turned up unexpectedly, I intend to spoil her and make this a pleasant stay for her, before her return to England next week.


  1. The property agents I use are Turkish women (mother and daughter), they are amazing, they rule their male staff with a rod of iron. In April when I wasn't happy with some stuff they brought the daughters English husband with them to sort it out, even though they have fluent flawless English, maybe it's ingrained deep, the man rules?

  2. auntiegwen: I think this is a prime example of Turkish women doing their utmost to break away from the stereotype...but not quite being able to do it 100%

  3. I think it is also maddening to find so many women here quite willing to give support to the Turkish male attitudes, which is bad enough. I'd think that life would be unsatisfying but then so many of them seem to accept it easily enough.

    A bit OT, I read somewhere that successful women executives in the West still cannot speak the same way as their male counterparts in meetings. They have to phrase their comments like questions, instead of comments or direct statements. Sad, isn't it? But women who use this technique have found that their ideas were more usually accepted by men than when they chose to be confrontational or too outspoken. I think that could be even more true here. I'd hate it but what works, works.

    That waiting around for nothing is a fundamental part of Turkish culture. It's a Procrasti-nation!! I am not sure if it is entirely due to gender bias because I have had similar experiences.

    Nothing grinds my gears more than telling my Turkish companions something, something pretty obvious- at least based on my life experience- only to have to watch the whole tiresome process play itself out just as I predicted. Being right is fun, of course, but it does get rather boring too. When it all falls into the bog, there's the look of shock and the shrug as if I hadn't moaned and groaned months/weeks earlier. This must have been how Cassandra felt.

    One suggestion though, which might help. Use the tools, my dear. If Google Maps has a view of your area, then print it out and take it with you. (If Google Maps doesn't offer this, then maybe you could buy a local map, mark the location of your home, and have it ready whenever you go out.)Keep a copy in your purse, for example with your home accurately noted. That might come in handy.

    The more you can do on your own, like solving your own problems, the happier you will be in Turkey. Don't you think that's true? This is what I have found anyway.

  4. My dear Nomad. Everything you say is so true...particularly the waiting around for nothing!

    You're absolutely right about being happier when you solve your own problems without help. It may sound from this post that I don't attempt this.but I do..a lot. I have to because of being on my own a lot of the time. I love it that a can buy hardware and plumb in my own washing machine for example. I knew that the oven needed a new element and am pretty sure I could have done this myself. However Turkish electricity is just too risky as you well know!
    Good idea about the map.I'll look for one xx

  5. I am a strong character with strong views..... so I guess I wouldn't last long in a male dominated country!
    I would be raging about the smelly rubbish!

    Brilliant that you got your oven fixed.

    I have a Beko Fridge/freezer.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  6. Maggie: I am raging about the smelly rubbish!!

    My fridge/freezer is also Beko, and my washing machine, so at least if either of these go wrong, help is close by

  7. i've been unable to leave a comment anywhere that is related to Google supported! I'm testing to see if this comes through..and I'm still reading your posts...but have been unable to leave you a message! Call the repairman! lol

  8. OMG...I can post on yours and nobody else's. That is totally the opposite of the way it usually is. Usually I can never get a comment to post here!
    I enjoy your posts. Never having been to Turkey, it's very enlightening should I one day get to visit. I'm pretty sure I couldn't live in one of those small villages and take a back seat to someone based simply on their sex. I'm too used to being too independent and biting my tongue has never been one of my attributes. hearing about your adventures though. You have my total admiration for your tact and patience!

  9. Hee hee, it's funny to me to read about Turkish male mentality when I'm in the midst of writing a romance featuring a Turkish male [g] My grandfathers died when I was young so all I have to go on are my father and a couple of uncles... and all the Turkish male friends I have, who yes, fit the bill. I remember my sister and I, as teenagers, arguing with one of these friends once when he was going on about how he wanted to sleep around but his wife better be a virgin. Argh! We sure got on his case that night and thanked our lucky stars our parents had moved to North America!

  10. On the other hand, I caved into this quite a bit when we lived in Turkey - my husband's not Turkish, and doesn't speak the language (besides the very basics) but it was amazing how much quicker things got done if I brought him to the bank, the muhtar, the furniture stores, etc. Ah, the male presence, how much quicker things get done when it's there!

  11. Charlotte Ann..Thanks and I'm so pleased you are able to comment again

    Deniz. It's interesting to get your perspective on this. Even though you don't live in Turkey, you are clearly aware of the male attitude!

  12. Althoughn I'm sure they wouldn't insist on having a man's name on their paperwork here, it so happens that my name is on absolutely nothing... and I don't care. Enjoy your friend's visit. Jan

  13. Hi Jan. I think there are advantages in not having your name on anything! Have enjoyed the visit..thanks x

  14. I'm married to a Turkish guy for almost 25 years...and I guess I've been lucky. He's originally from Turkey but has never dominated me or our daughter. His sister and Mom who live in Izmir I think both dominate their husbands.....and I could see most of their friends are the same. Lots of those women all have their careers. Probably their way of thinking is that they are from Istanbul and Izmir the big city.....but I do see a big difference from the way of thinking from people from Villages and Towns.
    I don't think that I could handle living with someone who I had to be subservient to......
    We live in Canada (I'm Canadian) and have lived in New York....and I've had numerous people ask me that question....of does he let me go out or do I ask permission for certain things. I use to get so I just laugh it off. Everything we do is 50/50 and we respect each others cultures.

  15. Hi Erica: I guess it makes a huge difference whe you don't live in Turkey, so this "domineering" influence isn't all around you, as it seems to be here. And of course you're right about the difference in attitude between the big cities and the villages. It often depends how the men are raised too I think.

  16. Very well said!!!! It's maddening and so hard to deal with that Turkish male attitude sometimes. Ive told my husband several times if he wanted a wife who would follow him blindly like a sheep, he should have married a sheep!


    1. When my hubby gives me attitude I usually say if he wanted a subservient wife then he should have married a Turkish women

  17. Hi Terri: And I hope he gets the message!

  18. Oh wow - everything you say is SO true!!!! I have lived in Turkey for nearly 5 years as a single 50 something, bottle blond, independent woman, I'm English with a Woman's Study and Business degree.
    I was involved for nearly 3 years with a man who worked in tourism in Marmaris - what an eye opener that has been. He told me on our first date (we had known each other for about 8 months) that he loved me and we would be married! We didn't. I remained living on my own in my own apartment. The end for me was when he told me to shut up, sit down and not talk - in front of his European customers!! 6 months later he married a Turkish woman.
    I met another Turkish man, quite by chance. He had lived in an English speaking country for over 30 years, so thinks he is European, yes, his English is amazing, but since his return to his home country, I think he is way more Turkish then he realises!!! We have been together (at a distance now) for over a year, what does he do well? He is unable to make a decision!! It drives me nuts. So basically, we live miles apart in this huge country as he gets on with not making decisions - how he ever ran a business I don't know.
    I love my life here - that is why I chose to move here, not for a man!

    1. Hello Happy Lady and welcome to my blog. I don't think these men can change what is so deep-rooted in them, even when they live abroad for some time..unless they stay out of Turkey. When they return it's all too easy to get back into the old familiar habits. They also hate to be upstaged by a woman when they are in the company of their male friends..hence the sit down and shut up comment. That happened to me once in the early days and I wouldn't like to repeat my response! It never happened again x

    2. I agree with Ayak absolutely: it is so deeply-rooted in the culture/tradition, that they just can't think otherwise. I couldn't stand it. I couldn't live anywhere else in this country other than Istanbul, maybe Izmir. I would be deeply unhappy with that provincial mentality. My husband is Turkish but he is so un-Turkish in his outlook and his family is fabulous! It's all down to education and travel and we all think the same way - thank god!!!!

  19. It is all about losing face. They don't like the idea that a woman has a brain and is able to do things for herself. When it comes to confrontation with another Turk if there is a dispute over something, it is rare for the Turkish man to back up his partner, he cannot be seen to agree with a mere woman. I ended up going back to the UK for 10 days, when my late husband acted like a wimp and didn't confront our neighbour who lit a fire on his land but facing my front door. The smoke was terrible and the whole house stunk, I was absolutely furious and he just stood there and said nothing. I of course told the neighbour what I thought if him in no uncertain terms.


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