Ez Zehra, ne poşmanım (I am Zehra, I do not regret)
On sheet, scarf, menstrual blood, ballpoint pen, hair.
191 x 137 / 40 x 81 x 20 cm.
Tarsus prison, 2019.
I am not in rependance mode as a woman. I can no longer stand social gender roles constantly generating regret for events that happen to us. The sexist society has us saying things like “if I hadn’t gone out at night, I wouldn’t have been raped”, “if I had listened to my father, what is happening to me would never have occurred”, “if I hadn’t believed this man and had sexual relations, I would still be a virgin”, “I am no longer a virgin, what will become of me now?”
Regret, always. In creating this work in prison, on a prison bed, I wanted to create a metaphor. This bed also exists once we are outside. They have always imprisoned us with this bed. Women on the outside also lie down every day on this bed. The prison bed is everywhere. The worst part being that this bed is also part of every woman’s wedding night. We lie on it, frightened, with trembling knees. This is why I put this blood in the middle of the sheet. This blood is my own menstrual blood. I placed in the middle of the sheet as a reminder of the blood on the wedding night.
We women, when we have our period, we do not even want to see our own menstrual blood. When someone, even a woman, sees that a blood stain has appeared inadvertently on our pants, we are embarrassed and we apologize. These damned gender norms have made us find our own body secretions disgusting. In every religion, this liquid is considered haram. A menstruating woman cannot enter religious premises, cannot cook and if she does, it is considered “unhealthy”. Because it is haram. How is it that this liquid linked to humanity’s procreation is considered so disgusting?
While in prison, I told myself “yes, truthfully, outside also I was sentenced to this bed. If I don’t rid myself of this perception, once liberated, this bed will pursue me. I will be a prisoner of this bed, like one who is bed-ridden for life.” When I was incarcerated, I saw myself and my friends as witches blowing on knots. As if we were cursed and thrown there… Accursed women objecting and struggling for women, being forced to regret their actions. I remove myself from this bed by refusing to be their incubator, I stand letting my blood drip down and saying “I am Zehra, I get up from this bed without any regret.”
Translation by Lucie Bourges