Note1: Deniz Gamze Ergüven (director + co-writer) is Turkish-born, but has spent most of her life living in France. No surprises there. Not only she’s safer in Paris (although honour-killings know no borders or expirations dates), but I have little doubt that her confidence and ease of conviction come as a direct result of having grown up away from the culture she so effortlessly depicts. To paraphrase Mr Larkin, your mum and dad may well fuck you up, but it’s your countrymen that will keep you fucked.
Note2: The minute my great, late and much-loved mother-in-law Joss heard that I went into the labour, she jumped into her trusty Yugo and bombed down the M6 leaving the rest of them supercar nightcrawlers with a mouth full of dust and a shape of an L on their foreheads. And, within ten minutes from her gift-bearing, situation-saving arrival, I so wished that she hadn’t.
Benjamin was my first baby, and I was damned if I was going to let anyone spoil my chances of making every single mistake a mother could make, thus not only eternally bonding with the blessed bundle of joy, but also making myself experientially ready for my next baby, which at the time I vowed to have shortly after the hell froze over (and over again).
Joss knew none of this. All Joss knew, and was there to share with me – the younger, less experienced, highly-strung, Balkanoid woman she only had a pleasure of meeting at the shotgun wedding six months earlier – was the following:
- Breast is best,
- Dummy, preferably dipped in (shock-horror) honey is the only way to get those household done whilst your husband’s out there working hard,
- Terry nappies are way better than disposables,
- Sex will never be the same again, no matter how much you squeeze, and
- There’s no such thing as an organic carrot: acid rain falls on everything.
With my own mother far far away, and no other woman to call my friend, I tried to be grateful to Joss for her help, and her kindness, and for just being there for us. I tried, and I failed. Truth was, I knew that she wasn’t there to support me in becoming the best mother I could be: she was there to teach, blackmail and browbeat me into being exactly the same mother she once was, in the exactly the same way she was taught, blackmailed and browbeaten by the women who came before her.
Note1: “Mustang” is now one of my Top Ten movies of all times, love it. Obviously, I hate the way the sisters got treated, and I hate (some of) the sisters for letting themselves being treated this way; nevertheless it’s a very cool film, and the end, the end—ooops, almost dropped a spoiler right there in the middle of that sentence. And Olga told me one spoiler and you’re out. Seriously. Who does she think she is. A frikking IMDB??? (note not one but three – 3 – question marks).
Note2: I’ll bet my bottom dollar the first thing most people have to say about this film is how unbelievably primitive the Turkish patriarchal system is; how cruel is its practice of marrying off little girls left right and centre, whether they like it or not. Next thing they’ll note is the sisters’ innocent beauty, and the next still the picture-perfect Turkish countryside worthy of anyone’s Lonely Planet bucket list. But I bet no-one will have one bad thing to say about the grandmother and the rest of the old woman in the village, even though they are the ones who force the sisters under their scraggy black wings where there is no light, no colour, no life. The pretty clothes are gone, the swimming in the sea is no more, the boys become husbands or nothing, the freedom is snatched away. Not by those patriarchal bastard men, mind you, even though the uncle is a proper bastard; no - the keenest freedom-snatchers are those older women, who should be there to protect and guide the young girls into life and womanhood. But they don’t.
I really don’t want to sound political or, even worse, like Olga, but I do wonder what would happen to all the suffragette movements and women’s actions and frikking MeToo hashtagging if the real enemy proved not to be a man?