It’s the day after I have committed myself to applying for a Fulbright fellowship to Cyprus, and I am in the steep, warm ascent from deep-sleep to almost-awake sleep when I start to hear a slithery sliding sound. My eyes are still cloaked in warm red ember-colored glowing curtains (a.k.a. my inner eyelids) but I know that there is something that is traversing the space between reality outside of me and dreamland inside of me. I hear – sliding. I wish it would go away, as today will be a long day, and I have an important lecture to give. But soft wafts of silk seem to be caressing my face and after several tries, I am able to open my eyes to see what’s what I am met with beyaz kurdelelerinin (white ribbons) all over the place.
“Ah – she’s awake!” Esma the hippie puppet cries out – and I can see all of the ladies of the Karagöz puppet troupe lined up on the bookshelf at the other end of the room – watching me awake in between volumes of modern art tomes, feminist theory, travel memoirs, histories of World War I and Tin Tin books in French (somehow, this mix explains M. and I). “Why,” I think to myself, “are all the lady puppets over there – and what are all of these white ribbons doing hanging from the ceiling?”
Before I can locate the answer in the asleep part of my brain that remembers that I have had skeins of white ribbon in my house for weeks now, I realize that the male puppets are repelling down the ribbons onto my pillow. Hacivad Bey speaks for the group, saying “we have been watching you, m’lady, prepare your talk on intimate partner violence against women with disabilities for a special lecture during anti-violence week at your university, and we have learned about this thing called the White Ribbon Campaign and because we Ottoman shadow puppets are very interested in our life here in America, we are trying out something new for us, talking about the un-mentionable.”
Mercan Bey, the spice trader from the Arabian Penninsula was next to speak, wafts of cardamom swished around him as he made it to the bottom of his ribbon, and he said “we have learned that this campaign began after a terrible terrible day, at the École Polytechnique in Canada in1989, where 14 women were killed by an anti-feminist shooter. More specifically, we have learned that after this shooting, a men’s movement appeared in Canada, where men wearing the white ribbon were standing up against violence against women. The men of this troupe – even oppositional Karagöz who never likes to go with the flow of the whole – have decided to embrace the idea behind the White Ribbon Campaign. At first we men just watched the little chorus of dancing lady puppets make some of those pinned ribbons for you – remember that there is a whole batch ready on your dining room table, m’lady.”
Bebe Ruhi, the last to swish down his ribbon from the ceiling (man, these puppets really know how to make an entrance), stepped before Mercan Bey, but gave him a loving hug along the way before saying “BUT, after we saw M. pick up one of those ribbons and put it on his jacket to wear ALL WEEK, well, we were inspired. We know that violence against women is a major problem in modern-day Turkey – some say 50+ percent of all women experience intimate partner violence there. We know that there is a movement underway back home – and we know that there is even a Turkish all-female movie cast addressing this back home – but we want to do our part too. We want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem, so we have taken the White Ribbon Campaign pledge (see below) and we are spreading the word back all the way to Turkiye, through shadow puppet means, about the need for people to take a stand on this. We also think that it should be about everyone – not just violence against women – but we get why this focus is needed now, and it saddens us. We may be skeptical of all of these ribbons symbolizing all of these things – but that does not belie the importance of all this. We want you to ask your dear readers – will you take the pledge as well?”