Perking the Pansies
Jack and Liam move to Turkey

What's it like to be a woman in Turkey?


Women’s rights are protected under the Turkish constitution and many women have achieved high status in government, commerce and the Arts. However, Turkey remains a predominantly patriarchal society and meaningful female liberation is a distant dream for many. Most Turkish women are expected to remain virgins until they marry (this is not necessarily expected of men). In poorer regions, the education of boys takes precedence over girls and arranged marriages are unexceptional. Many Turkish men serving Western women in bars and restaurants will be itinerant workers from the East who may never have experienced the kind of liberated female behaviour commonplace in the West. Women, particularly lone women, may get pestered. Although Turkey is proud of its secular tradition, the overwhelming majority of people are Muslim and many are conservative. It pays to be respectful. Away from the coastal resorts and city centres of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, women are expected to dress modestly. Bikinis (and bare chested men) are best kept for the beach. The absence of women in public, particularly in the evenings, was something Jack and Liam from Perking the Pansies fame never quite got used to.

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"... she mean, see you at Clement’s?” said Liam. “Dunno but thank fuck she’s gone.” Liam, who was inexplicably drawn to ballsy, troubled women, was a little more conciliatory. “We were a bit cruel. She’s not that bad.” “She’s a bloody nightmare.” We sat cross ..."
"...Chuck had sailed through the Swinging Sixties on a sea of alcohol, narcotics and loose women. Despite (or perhaps because of) his colourful past, he’d become a reformed character and virtually tee-total. In many ways, Chuck was as striking as his wife and his chequered youth perfectly matched his Seventies’ porn star looks. ..."

Chapter 6: The Emigreys
"... “Backgammon and rumpy pumpy,” said Liam. “Who with?” “Tariq, if he’ll have me.” “Oh, he’ll have you. Remember the old Ottoman expression, women for babies, men for fun.” “You’re such a misogynist.” Liam slipped on the wet gravel. “Serves you ..."

Chapter 14: The VOMITs
"...“Can you believe it, boys?” she would say. “You’d think she’d had enough of shagging peasants.” Or, “She paid more for those tits than most people spend on a car and they’re still lop-sided.” Even Liam, with his infamous tolerance of neurotic women, was at breaking point though his current concern was avoiding Clement. He embarked on a serious spending spree, splashing out on vegetables we didn’t need, anything to avoid talking to our haughty neighbour. As far as he was concerned, Clement was already at the top of the emergency filter ..."
"... country like it’s been the death of ours.” “Will it? What about the boys?” Clement beamed. “Ah, boys are different. It’s about family values. women are born to stay at home and raise children.” “That’s their job?” said Liam. “Precisely, that’s their job. Look at ..."
"... said Liam. “Precisely, that’s their job. Look at England, overrun with feral brats.” “Maybe we should chain the women to the kitchen sink?” I said. “Keep them in their place.” “That’s not remotely amusing, Jack.” “You really are a man from a bygone era.” ..."
"... I said. “It’s another friggin’ VOMIT.” “Excuse me?” “A Victim Of Men In Turkey. They’re everywhere. Stupid middle-aged women who fall for the Turkish boys. They come ashore as Shirley Valentines…” “And end up washed up on the beach as VOMITs. I get the ..."

"...Clement was ‘emotionally and spiritually drawn’ to the ‘real’ Turkey. He wanted to live alongside the ‘simple folk’. He wanted majestic, time-honoured traditions and strong family values. He wanted the Turkey where women worked the fields, men drank tea and boys practiced adultery. He was tired of suburbia and the “ghastly, tiny-minded little people that populated it.” So, Clement would become an emiköy, one of those rare hardy emigreys who roughed it in the country. He’d found a semi-derelict cottage at the ..."

Chapter 18: Paradise Lost
"...When talking and walking at the same time became problematic, we decided to call it a night, waving goodbye to our new friends and promising to return, next time with loose English women. Our escape from town was postponed somewhat when an effervescent Üzgün dragged us into a small doorway of a familiar meyhane, tucked away in a small side street lined with master race oleanders. ..."

Chapter 25: Home Alone
"...that was the night his murderers plotted to rob and kill him. I was sickened by the killing but Turkish sexual customs were more complex, contradictory and deep-rooted than I could fully comprehend. Quentin Crisp may have been right when he said that “men deprived of the company of women turn to boys and men deprived of the company of boys turn to animals.” But he surely had in mind English public schools, Welsh sheep farmers and American convicts. Not Turkey, where sexual ambiguity was an art form. Maybe ..."
" to a hand shandy from the boy next door. A familiar fumble with the lads is tolerated if absolute discretion is exercised; it’s certainly not an obstacle to marriage. And don’t even go there with lesbianism. Licking the lettuce is way beyond the pale: meaningful sexual liberation for women in Turkey was a distant dream. This may have explained the po-faced princesses of Bodrum. Being arsy was the only real freedom open to them. ..."

"... Female emigreys the length and breadth of the peninsula sold their bodies to the Devil for a ticket. “Think the women’s Institute without the jam and Jerusalem,” Alan explained. We laughed and left Alan to his thoughts. He wasn’t really in the mood for talking and besides, we’d ..."
"... and abandoned us to our fate. It took all of five seconds. Two women from a particularly drunk and disorderly table at the epicentre of the painted scrum, leapt to their feet and man-handled us to a couple of empty seats. “New blood, girls, gather round.” The head of the coven ..."
"... on the old wooden wheel she kept in her house. “She hums as she plucks,” said Jessica, “content under the cool of an old olive tree. That’s what women have done in Turkey for millennia. There’s more to Bodrum than the Yacht Club.” Liam raised a toast to Jessica and collapsed back ..."

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"For the general reader, the book’s originality lies more in its honesty about the grubby reality of expat life that..."

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