Women With Something To Say: Alev Scott

Charlotte Prichard, 21 November 2013

We're very excited to announce that the author of our eleventh Women With Something To Say blog is acclaimed journalist and writer, Alev Scott. Istanbul based Alev is the author of a compelling blog following protests in Turkey. Her new book "Turkish Awakening", which will be published by Faber in spring next year, explores shifts in Turkish society in recent years and the Occupy Gezi movement. Join Alev as she explores the concepts of sisterhood and language:

In English, ‘sister’ is more or less a technical term for a blood relation – I have three of them, for example. Four girls: a tidy, contained sisterhood within a private family unit. While I lived in England, that is what the word meant to me but when I moved to Turkey I realised that you can regard any woman as a sister. In Turkish, abla literally means ‘big sister’ and you can apply the word to any woman you happen to meet. In two short syllables, a sense of solidarity and mutual understanding is conjured up, where any problem is a shared problem, any joy a shared joy, regardless of age or background.

Other hot-blooded languages have this – the Spanish hermana for instance, or Farsi khahar – to complement the term ‘brother’ used by men to show easy camaraderie. Of course, a man can call a woman ‘sister’ and a woman can call a man ‘brother’, with the same sense of familiarity. For me, ‘sister’ used between women is a unique and powerful word, perhaps because I grew up in a household of girls, with a strong mother at the helm.

We need to reclaim ‘sister’ for universal use in English, embrace the punchy lyrics of Lady Marmalade, and more importantly we must realise that women should be sisters rather than competitors. I went to an all girls’ school in London where I made life long friends (sisters, in fact), but I also learned a lot about the inherent suspicion and competition which can develop among young women in a pressurized environment. Life is hard enough for women without this. Celebrate the sisterhood, look at the women around you and smile. Henry V had his ‘band of brothers’; we have an infinite circle of sisters. Thanks, Alev! What does sisterhood mean to you, Tatty fans? Share your views on Alev’s piece with us in the comments below and tweet us a link to your favourite writers using the hashtag #WWSTS! Don’t forget, we’re giving you 20% off your very own bespoke Speech Bubble Necklace. Whatever it is you want to say, design your personalised piece online now.
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