The Cultural Closet: Masculinity Tested by Sexuality in Turkey




cultural closet, gender, men, romantic relationship, masculinity


This study aims to explore the experiences of Muslim Turkish men who hide their romantic relationships from their families. The study was carried out according to the phenomenological design and through semi-structured interviews. Participants were Turkish male university students aged between 18-33 years. The data was analyzed involving an inductive system of categories and codes. Four themes emerged from the analysis: Family attitudes towards romantic relationships, reasons for hiding sexual experiences from family, consequences of the prohibition of premarital sex, and indirect sources of information about sexuality. According to the findings, families' pressure and control practices related to gender norms lead men to hide their romantic relationships and sexual experiences from their families. Families' prohibitive attitudes towards premarital sexuality result in Turkish men lacking family guidance in sexuality education. These attitudes have adverse effects on individuals' mental health and romantic relationships. Socially, there are risks such as hasty and early marriages.

Author Biography

Özlem Haskan Avcı, Hacettepe University

Ms. Özlem Haskan Avcı is a faculty member at Hacettepe University, Turkey. Her main research subjects are violence and gender, brief psychotherapy, and premarital counseling. She is also the head of the Women and Child Rights Commission of the Turkish Psychological Counseling and Guidance Association. She is a commission member at Hacettepe University Counseling Center.