Turkey has a toxic male culture issue — and football definitely feeds this issue. Last weekend, there was a much-hyped match between Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, the two big teams of Istanbul.  Galatasaray won. Apparently, it was a historical win because the game was played in Fenerbahçe’s stadium. There was the euphoria of Galatasaray fans and the utter despair of Fenerbahçe fans, as you can imagine. However, those who suffered the most were the women who don’t follow football and were trying to move around the city. 

A video of Galatasaray fans is making the rounds on social media in which a group of fans start yelling “eat my dick” in the subway. They are joyful and look like they are having fun. Obviously, the video was taken after the game and men are in Galatasaray jerseys. Among these savage men, we see a woman in the video: she stares at a yelling man and at some point tries to tell him to shut up. Nobody has to listen to a guy yelling “eat my dick” while using public transportation. Of course, the men do not just become silent and realize what they are doing, instead they get even madder, and the men who were just sitting quietly stand up and join in the “eat my dick” choir. This horrific video, however, is being praised by Galatasaray fans, who think the woman who opposed this sexist mess was a Fenerbahçe fan and that she got what she deserved.

Another twitter user reported on a similar incident: this time, Fenerbahçe fans fill a metro station. They see a woman wearing a red coat and start yelling, “Fuck the one with the red coat.” The woman responds to them, and they become even louder. Their defense was that it was a Fenerbahçe fan area, and nobody can walk around wearing Galatasaray colors.

I myself unfortunately had to face fan harassment. I mistakenly decided to do my jog in a park that is close to Beşiktaş stadium, which is also another big Istanbul team. Unfortunately, on that very day there was a Beşiktaş game, and the park was full of fans. I had to do my jog among whistles and catcalls.

Football in Turkey, as in many European countries, is structured around masculinity. Game days are the days when men can act like savages, insult men and women freely, and attack anyone they like — and they don’t face any consequences.

When a group of women gather to rally for women’s rights, they are brutally stopped by the Turkish police. When young people want to go out on the street to demand rights, they are detained. When it comes to football fans, though, the police just watch. And of course, there is a reason for that. Erdoğan’s Turkey is reinventing the idea of Turkishness based on a masculine, bullying culture. In this new Turkish identity, men are always rough and rude, and they are ready to attack at any time. Women are passive and behind-the-scenes. And women just have to take it when men do whatever they like. This has been fed to Turkish people for the last 20 years through political speeches, TV shows and the famous Turkish soap opera industry. 

Toxic masculinity is praised by the regime. Football is the best vessel through which to manifest this most primitive side of manhood. The ones who refuse to be a part of this culture are harassed. Maybe it is high time that people who have been able to retain their rationality start fighting to find ways to stop this.