Issues of the day: Women opposing gender equality
Paper Edition | Page: 8
June 27, p. 7
When I was a small child, I adored my mother. I thought she was the most beautiful woman I ever knew, and I loved her more than anything in the world.
As I got older, my love did not diminish, but I became more critical of her, especially after my brother was born and her focus naturally shifted to him. Apart from being a baby, he was also a boy — the preferred sex.
And when she saw a man cry, she would mock him and say that he was cengeng (a crybaby), kawas awewe (“like a woman”, in Sundanese). If he gossiped, she would also put him down for being “like a woman”, unaware that she was belittling herself and her own kind. (By Julia Suryakusuma, Jakarta)
Women are smart and strong enough to decide what is best for them. It is the responsibility of the state to ensure that women’s rights are protected.
Bills such as this are to ensure that women have legal options to take whatever actions they deem necessary.
The viewpoint that this bill will further increase divorce rates or encourages women to forget their responsibilities as a mother/wife is not only simplistic, it insults women’s intelligence and strength!
I think patriarchy is a term that was created by Western people. They should know that we, Muslims, really respect women as well as our local wisdom.
Javanese has multiple layers of linguistic structures, from the language that we use in the markets to the language we use for respected persons. Kanca wingking is the lowest interpretation of a wife.
The most respectful term for a wife is garwa or sigaraning nyawa (half of your soul). Also in Islam, although a woman only has the right to half of a parental inheritance from her brother, she has the right to ask for mas kawin (obligatory wedding gifts) from her husband.
Prophet Muhammad also said that a father is only respected once, but mentioned a mother should be respected three times more than a father.
So, it’s not a matter of wisdom but Indonesian people vary from the educated to the uneducated.
And do you think domestic violence only happens in Indonesia or third-world countries? Come on, look at how Rihanna got hit by Chris Brown. Where was it? Indonesia?
With all due respect for the above comment, I too come from a pure Javanese background. So I guess I know a little about how women are positioned in Javanese society.
My grandmother and aunts often refer to themselves as wong mburi meaning service areas (kitchen, laundry, etc).
I have studied domesticity in the architectural realm during my graduate studies, and this has often been brought up. Speaking in the Javanese context, traditionally, women and men have separate roles in the family.
The female’s role is to serve their “better halves”, produce (as in have as many kids as possible) and to assist their men to cultivate rice and work in the field.
It’s a tough job I may say. But the difference back then was that it was common. Nobody complained. It was a set duty. Sure, domestic violence happens. But again, the female role is to “serve”, remember?
Up to today, my uncles never enter “service” quarters like the kitchen, which they consider a female domain. So tradition’s stains are hard to rub off.
Is it a problem? It is if both are exposed to other opinions and other perceptions on how the female should be in society.
Yet, there are still many regions in Indonesia without this exposure or that use a shield of “false beliefs” to prevent change and open-mindedness.
Sure, Rihanna got beat up by Chris Brown. But Western society knows that it was wrong and Chris has done his time.
It should be Indonesia’s turn.