The Jakarta Post | Mon, 02/25/2008 4:33 PM |
In the 10 years since the end of the New Order regime, the country has grappled with its own take on democracy. After a tighty controlled era when everybody and everything had its prescribed place, Indonesian society was free to do as it pleased.
Or, as some would put it, it was suddenly a free-for-all. The liberation includes, of course, the sexual sphere, the topic of this month’s Centerpiece. Sex is no longer behind closed doors but everywhere in the big nocturnal playground that is Jakarta: the euphemistically titled “Treatment” classifieds in the most popular working men’s dailies are crowded with a mind-blowing range of “services”, previously closeted sexual minorities have found a voice on the Internet and sordid scandals are everyday news.
The sensual, earthy side of traditional society also are back in the open, which we explore in two articles about age-old treatments for him and her. The success of our cover subject, Ivan Gunawan, known for his camp “Madame” character on the top-rated show in the country, also attests to the new openness.
Only a decade ago, effeminate characters were banned by one media czar from his private TV station. So does the permissiveness signal a descent down the slippery slope of moral degradation?
It’s too early to tell, although I tend to side with the view of Jakarta Undercover author Moammar Emka that traditionally earthy Indonesian society is in the throes of its own sexual “evolution”. One day, cooler heads will prevail, even as the heavy breathing continues.
( Bruce Emond )