The Sultan's Harem (Harim el Sultan)

Yara SalamehYou definitely heard of the new Turkish soap opera “Harim el Sultan” (The Sultan’s Harem). The series is inspired from real historical events, and focuses specifically on the harem, scattered with danger, hatred, and a constant competitiveness to the sultan’s heart. The Sultan’s Harem has gained wide success and popularity across the Arab world, but what is portrayed isn’t a true image of women; in other words, stereotypes/ misconceptions…

A common criticism of this show is the treatment of women. I believe that the soap opera is showing that the meaning of powerful women is limited to their ability of winning in a revenge dynamic and that achieving their goal is met only by the intermediate of lying and cheating; if they want to achieve something, they end up realizing it by killing or hurting someone instead of doing the best they can, and defying all obstacles by telling the truth and taking advantage of their intelligence and social status. Are these really the only ways we have to use to attain our objectives as women, as human beings? Is revenge sweet?

The show has broken the values of women and morality. Women appear as weak persons ruled by a dictatorial sultan, and their only focus is on material things. Are these really the only things that we care about? Where is their intelligence? Their participation in political decisions? Their love and caring personalities? The popular series is teaching girls to be money-oriented and boys to be arrogant. Indeed, it is an outstanding Turkish drama production, however, every person watching it shouldn’t consider it as an educational documentary or a trustworthy reference, but as a leisure TV show.

As a conclusion, when you watch something, it is essential to keep your critical spirit and simply be aware of what you’re seeing and listening to… Try not to be that woman who is taken by the harem’s gorgeous dresses and furniture!


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Harem el Sultan

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  1. A personal opinion on the Sultan’s Harem (Muhteşem Yüzyıl) – by Yara Salameh. Turkish drama series extremely popular in the Arab World, portraying the life of the longest reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire – Soulayman The Magnificent, 16th century – along with his Harem, the domain of hundreds of scented, pampered women, some wives, some concubines, some merely slaves. The television series shows Süleyman’s consolidation of his power: executing a corrupt vazir, reinforcing the rule of law throughout the empire, meeting foreign diplomats, and preparing for military campaigns. But the main focus is on the relationships between the members of the imperial household, especially romantic entanglements and rivalries. The show generated controversy and complaints from some viewers, for what they referred to as a “disrespectful”, “indecent” and “hedonistic” portrayal of the historical sultan. The Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemned the show as “an effort to show our history in a negative light to the younger generations.” Small groups of Islamists and Nationalists protested the studio but the show remains popular with viewers, with consistently high ratings.

  2. Watched few episodes… Nice outfits, decor and architecture. However, it does portray women as either whores, or submissive… and especially violent creatures!

  3. I am not watching this series but I presume sexism is its motto, based on what i hear and know 🙂

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