If Samantha Jones from the hit TV series Sex in the City really existed, she might find Jakarta a dull place to live.
The capital of the world’s largest Muslim majority country is not the kind of place that is open to women exploring their sexuality, with society still regarding sex as a sensitive issue and a man’s privilege.
While people think it is perfectly normal for men to watch pornographic DVDs, read pornographic magazines and use sex toys, sexually explicit entertainment is taboo for women as the public sentiment considers sex an inappropriate subject for them.
However, these views have not stopped urban women from tasting the forbidden fruit.
A number of Jakarta women shared with The Jakarta Post their experiences of pornography and other “taboo” topics.
They say they are mostly driven by curiosity. Exposure to heightened sexuality in women’s magazines
and on the Internet have also fueled the trend.
However, most women still prefer keeping these thoughts private so as to avoid being frowned upon by the public or being labeled as promiscuous.
So much so, in fact, that not one woman was willing to have her real name published.
“I just share [my secret] with close friends,” said 26-year old women, who liked to be called Lily.
Lily likes to watch pornographic DVDs either by herself or with friends.
She said she liked to do it for fun and for the sake of “knowledge”. The reason she is reticent to share her experience is that she fears people will judge her unfairly.
Sociologist from the University of Indonesia Siti Hidayat Amal said the tendency among women
to keep their sexual experience a private matter was because of society’s efforts to repress female sexuality.
“Most people would disrespect these women and assume they are ‘bad’,” she said.
But Amelia, 31, ignores the naysayers and prefers to explore her sexuality through the use of sex toys.
She has a variety of sex aids, including dildos, furry handcuffs and blindfolds, all of which she considers her best friends.
“It’s fun because you can find out new spots to excite your partner as well,” said the woman, who, because of her sexual expertise, has been nicknamed Samantha by her friends in reference to the Sex in the City character.
But even for experts, finding sex toys in Jakarta can be a challenge as not many people openly stock them.
The Post attempted finding adult toys in Glodok market, West Jakarta, which is known as the city’s porn hub, but to no avail.
Former retailers said they stopped selling the illegal toys due to frequent raids by the authorities.
“Also, the hot conditions in the marketplace are not good for the [dildos] because the rubber melts,” a seller said, adding that people, mostly women, have now turned to buying the items on the Internet or through mail-orders advertised in newspapers.
Society’s norms have forced women underground to discover and enjoy pornography in the city.
Since the Pornography Law was enacted, people have become more careful when delving into the issue.
Many regions, like Depok and Tangerang have also imposed their own similar policies that mostly put women at a disadvantage.
But those limitations do not seem to prevent the emergence of a generation of “Samanthas” in the city.
“[Women] may seem like they’re not doing it, when actually they are. They just don’t talk about it,” said Amelia.