An etiquette course in Turkey has attracted criticism and ridicule on social media for its advice for women not to lick ice cream.
The “how to be a lady” course, organised by Istanbul’s low-income conservative Bagcilar municipality, shares tips on etiquette, including how to dress, walk and speak, according to Turkey’s Milliyet daily.
Among the suggestions are: sit properly on public transport, talk as little as possible when chewing food, don’t put on excessive makeup in the morning, don’t use slang words and refrain from using “bro”.
While many of the tips could be seen as pretty standard for a good manners guide, it was the ice cream-eating advice that raised eyebrows on social media.
The guide didn’t specify why licking ice cream was deemed unladylike or what the polite alternative of enjoying the frozen treat was.
One Twitter user wondered: “How do they want us to eat it then?” next to a laugh-out-loud smiley.
“I attended the lady course”, tweeted another. “We are currently biting on ice cream.”
‘Men do it too’
But along with the sarcastic response, there was anger at what was seen as an attempt to limit women’s freedom.
“This is ridiculous and must be stopped immediately. It’s totally sexist. Who cares about how I eat ice cream? Try to accept people the way they are”, one reader on the popular Turkish online forum Eksi Sozluk railed.
Another one questioned why the course was directed only at women, pointing out that “men do these things too and it’s repulsive”.
The woman who runs the course, Arzu Arda, a mathematician by training, shrugged off the criticism.
“I do not want to create a perception of a ‘lady school’,” Arda told Milliyet, adding that the sense of mercy, kindness and humility has diminished in society.
“It is our duty to act in public in a way that will not disturb people. We are telling our ladies how to act in the most correct way in public,” she said.
That sentiment resonated with supporters on social media who found merit in the advice. One user argued that if every municipality educated people with similar courses then “Istanbul would be a more liveable place”.