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A Proper Woman Never Laughs (In Public)
By: Jennifer Graber
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Ladies, remember to always be prim and proper. Do not forget to dress appropriately and modestly. Oh, and never forget to control your laughter in public. That’s right — do not laugh in public, because it contributes to the moral delinquency of society. Do not adjust your screens, because you are in fact reading this correctly. These interesting beliefs are reality for women in Turkey. The Vice Prime Minister of Turkey, Bulent Arinc, made a controversial speech to mark the holiday Eid al-Fitr. Arinc seriously credited Turkish women who laugh and smile in public with being part of a decline in morals. He also stated that women should be acutely aware of the differences in what constitutes decency. Arinc believes these issues are pivotal for a woman’s chasteness.
 
Whether you are conservative or liberal does not matter. This is absolutely ridiculous. A woman can laugh and smile in public, and yet still be modest or chaste or whatever else she wants. Laughing or smiling does not mean one has questionable morals. Apparently the women, and some men, of Turkey agree. Following Arinc’s speech, a backlash arose on social media, namely Twitter. Women began posting smiley selfies. Accompanying many of those tweets was the hashtag #direnkahkaha, which means to resist laughter. Turkish men also banded together on social media against Arinc by saying that “the men of a country in which women are not allowed to laugh are cowards.”
 
Arinc, big shocker here, responded to the social media backlash by saying he was misunderstood and taken out of context. The Vice Prime Minister then went on to distance himself from his outlandish remarks — not so successfully, but I digress. When the words came out of Arinc’s mouth, he had to have realized the magnitude of what he was saying. However, once the you-know-what hit the fan, he suddenly changed his tune. Why does it take social media backlash for someone to retract his or her statement? Did the insanity not occur to them prior to speaking? Perhaps it was a case of needing time for it to soak in, but that is doubtful.
 
You see this sort of thing with corporations and other brands as well. It is like the thought process gets disconnected. This is not to say that brands, both people and companies, are not allowed to have beliefs. In fact, that is absolutely fine. It is wonderful to embrace diversity. And of course controversy can arise from that, i.e. Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby. But the Arinc controversy is so much more than that. No matter what you believe or what political leanings you have, I think we can agree that banning laughter in public is ridiculous. And it is absolutely amazing to see strong men and women joining together on social media to fight back. It is encouraging to know that social media can actually stand up for worthy causes from time to time.


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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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