Here I am in Cappadocia, a very touristy area, trying my hand at “kilim” weaving – and staying far away from the men that are waiting to charm female tourists!
Turkish people are famous for their misafir pervelik, and pride themselves on this hospitality. Many times have I heard from friends traveling in Turkey about how a Turkish person they randomly met invited them back to their home for dinner with their family, or else spent the day guiding them around without asking for anything in return.
Nevertheless, for a woman traveling in Turkey, it helps to be careful. Not, however, because there are pick-pockets and other shady characters lurking in the shadows; but rather because there is unfortunately the stereotypical belief among Turkish men that all foreign women are looking for a one-night stand. To be fair to the Turkish men, many women do travel to Antalya and other tourist resorts looking for a good time; they hook up with local men and are happy to then return to their country, no strings attached. However, this is certainly not what the majority of foreign women traveling in Turkey are looking for, and so many women are perplexed by the harassment they experience.
Again, I must qualify here – Turkish men are on the whole extremely polite and respectful. But a few, particularly the ones in the resort regions, truly believe that the women travelers they meet there are looking for men, and so don’t think they’re being offensive. Rather, they believe everyone’s looking for the same thing. You see, in Turkish culture, a bride’s virginity is extremely important, and many modern women still want to save themselves for marriage. A Turkish man, therefore, doesn’t have the same opportunities for relationships and sexual experience that Europeans and North Americans do.
So a woman traveler has to discern between the hospitality of a well-meaning Turk, proudly wanting to show off the best of his country, and the Turk wanting to sleep with her. And for someone new to Turkey, it can be hard to know the difference.
My advice? Remember these simple truths:
– Accept hospitality from families, women, older men – but beware of young, single men’s ulterior motive
– Travel with like-minded friends
– No matter how intensely he may pursue and woo you, you have not found love
Read Cecile’s blog at: www.expatdiaries-cecileeugenie.blogspot.com