Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more and more resembles the drunken uncle who shows up to Thanksgiving dinner uninvited and makes everyone uncomfortable with his verbal bombshells. On Monday, Nov. 24, the conservative Muslim attended a women’s justice summit in Istanbul and declared that women aren’t equal to men.
Certain work, Erdogan said, goes against women’s "delicate nature," and "their characters, habits, and physiques are different" from men’s.
"Our religion [Islam] has defined a position for women: motherhood," he said.
He then went on to blast feminists, accusing them of not understanding their role in society.
"Some people can understand this, while others can’t," he said. "You cannot explain this to feminists because they don’t accept the concept of motherhood."
Erdogan tried using the Quran to advance his point, saying, "Paradise lies at the feet of mothers," which ended up just turning into an awkward reflection on the role of his mother in his own family.
"I would kiss my mother’s feet because they smelled of paradise," he said. "She would glance coyly and cry sometimes."
Those comments came on the heels of a recent claim that Muslims, not Christopher Columbus, first discovered the Americas.
Though Turkey has a secular constitution, Erdogan’s feelings on feminism don’t exactly come as a surprise. He has a history of trying to incorporate his religious values into law, proposing limiting abortion rights and access to birth control, for example. He also once said that every Turkish woman should give birth to three children; and in July, one of his top ministers said women should resist laughing in public.
The feminists present at Monday’s speech probably had a tough time avoiding that temptation.