Random chat inspires a Twitterseries long-in-the-making.
Chatting on Facebook this morning with an insomniac acquaintance in LA (10 hours behind me in Istanbul), he joked with me about my new Facebook page for the Expat Harem community. (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/group.php?gid=47035652137)
Based on the anthology by foreign women in modern Turkey I co-edited, the 5-year old community has expanded far beyond the book alone (with a slew of multimedia offshoots) and beyond the original participants and early expected readers (expats, women writers, students and scholars of Turkey, fans of cultural literature, armchair travelers). It now encompasses multicultural people of all kinds, international and repatriated Turks, social scientists, and global nomads.
However, along the way the titillating, anachronistic title "Tales from the Expat Harem" has struck a similar tone-deaf chord.
"How dare you invoke the harem," kneejerk feminists bleat.
"I could use one of those," drool male chauvinists.
Talking to my male acquaintance this morning – a decent, bright man -- we started at the semi-leer and because of the abbreviated format quickly got to the meat of the issue: the cold reality of harem fantasies. People simply aren’t aware how deeply they believe them and how wrong they are.
By the time he signed off glad to be married to only one woman, I was inspired to create on the microblogging service Twitter an ongoing series of 140-character “tweets” that acknowledge these erroneous, prevalent Western stereotypes regarding Asia Minor & the entire Muslim world.
I came up with twenty posts --about the Ottoman harem, the harem concept in general, and how and why Expat Harem reclaims its most positive aspects and links it to a modern day phenomenon I live with -- to be blogged over time into the livestream of Twitter that has been called a mix between "a global think tank and a psychic hotline". I have no idea how long the series will be but doubtless many more bite-sized tweets will occur to me, derived from my ten years spent living in Muslim cultures and the Expat Harem project.
I’ll be addressing the positives people assume are negative and negatives that are supposed to be positive. I’ll be observing the Western urge to overly exoticize the unfamiliar.My first two “Reality of harem fantasy” posts:
Reality of harem fantasy1: everyone (and his brother) has an idea of what a harem is and most of them are wrong #expatharem
Reality of harem fantasy2: multiplicity of women + singularity of man = feminine powerbase #expatharem Please retweet, major misapprehension
Follow me on Twitter to catch the whole stream (http://www.twitter.com/Thandelike ) and to interact on the topic….
You can also find the series at the indexing service www.hashtags.org by searching for expatharem
Causes Anastasia Ashman Supports
Vipassana Meditation Instruction (dhamma.org) Ashoka Organization of Social Entrepreneurs (ashoka.org)