In the last decade, conservative gender politics has reinforced its grip on the political, social and cultural life in Turkey, resulting in a serious backlash in terms of gender equality. The rise of anti-feminist policy perspectives and the proliferation of patriarchal gender discourses beg the question of how profeminist women respond to the waning of the principle of gender equality in contemporary Turkey. This article addresses the possibilities and limitations of achieving an inclusive, intersectional and egalitarian momentum to foster collaborative action among Islamic and secular womanhood positions. Considering that the Islamic-secular nexus is a major fraction line in envisioning and doing gender politics in the contemporary Turkish context, it looks at the discursive framing perspectives utilized by Islamic profeminist women to articulate dissent in the conservative gender regime. To this end, it particularly engages with the recent public debate on abortion in 2012, regarding it as a litmus test that reveals the sui generis aspects of profeminist collaborative action on the Islamic-secular axis.
Didem Unal Abaday is Thyssen Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies of Central European University. Previously, she was a visiting research fellow at the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of Rutgers University and the Graduate Center of City University of New York. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at Bilkent University. Her research interests focus on gender politics in contemporary Turkey, feminist subaltern publics, Islamic feminism and Islamic fashion. Her recent publications appeared in various journals such as Women’s Studies International Forum, Journal of Women, Politics and Policy and European Journal of Women’s Studies.