The latest image to go viral on social media is that of the “Turkish woman in red” It’s actually a short sequence that you can find as a video showing a young Turkish woman being sprayed in the face by police wielding teargas guns. The image is hauntingly symbolic. The woman is stylishly dressed in western clothing. She seems out of place, as if she has suddenly stumbled upon the riot, As Alexandra Hudson of Reuters points out ” in her red cotton summer dress, necklace and white bag slung over her shoulder she might have been floating across the lawn at a garden party; but before her crouches a masked policeman firing teargas spray that sends her long hair billowing upwards.” Coupled with the stop action nature of the photos the sequence and individual images take on a dream like quality. That is until you realize how vicious and nasty spraying teargas directly into someone’s face is. In that context the woman in red stands defiant against the conservative government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. She is demanding her right to sexual equality and independence.
The appeal of the photograph, of course, lies both in its incongruity and in the “girl next door” quality of the young woman. I cannot help but be reminded of “Les Misérables.” This story has been played out before. That was the June Rebellion of 1832.No king now sits on the throne of France.The ultimate power of this sequence of images is that the answer is inevitable. The future belongs to the world’s youth. Equality and liberty are not just slogans. The world ultimately belongs to Éponine, Marius, and Cosette. All of that is in four little frames, demonstrating once again the power of image.