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Saturday, April 29, 2006

RUU APP 3

Dari milis http://groups.yahoo.com/group/perempuan

“BERLINDUNG DI BALIK RUU ANTI PORNOGRAFI DAN ANTI PORNOAKSI” Oleh Sarah Seena, SH, MH Kontroversi RUU Anti Pornografi dan Pronoaksi (RUU APP) terus bergulir antara pihak yang pro dengan pihak yang kontra. Namun, jika diamati dengan seksama maka akan terlihat bahwa mayoritas pendukung RUU APP untuk disahkan adalah laki-laki, sedangkan mayoritas yang menolak RUU APP untuk disahkan adalah perempuan. Secara tidak langsung kontroversi ini menunjukkan adanya “perang berbasis gender” antara kaum pria dengan kaum wanita.

Perang berbasis jender ini disebabkan adanya ketimpangan relasi jender antara perempuan dengan lelaki. Ketimpangan hubungan karena adanya cara pandang yang bersifat” biner patriakhis”/ berpihak kepada laki-laki. Menurut Kamla Bhasin, pada sebagian besar masyarakat, relasi jender memiliki sifat dasar patriakal, dimana relasi ini mengikuti aturan-aturan patriaki, yakni sebuah ideologi dan sistem sosial dimana laki-laki dianggap superior dalam kehidupan perempuan, dominan, dan mengendalikan hampir semua sumber-sumber penghasilan dan institusi sosial.

Aturan main yang sengaja diterapkan dalam sistem patraiki adalah memosisikan laki-laki yang dianggap lebih dewasa sebagai Sang Diri (the self) yang memiliki otoritas kebenaran, sedangkan kaum perempuan dan pria yang lebih muda merupakan profil yang ditempatkan sebagai Sang Lain (the other) yang harus tunduk dan patuh. Relasi yang terjadi meemperlihatkan kekuasaan dan ideologi yang berjalan secara massif, dimana laki-laki dianggap sebagai sebuah sosok yang powerful sedangkan perempuan dianggap sebagai sosok yang powerless atau tidak berdaya.

Hal ini memberikan implikasi besar, patriaki memberikan hukum yang tetap bahwa laki-laki merupakan subyek yang menentukan dalam sebuah hubungan kekuasaan antara laki-laki dengan perempuan. Aturan main tersebut merupakan politik patriakis sebai politik yang dikuasai dan mewakili kepentingan laki-laki. Penyelesaian masalah yang menyangkut relasi jender dilakukan dengan cara=cara yang maskulin, dengan menonjolkan keberanian dan pembuktian kemenangan seperti perang atau “pengusiran secara paksa”, Menurut Luh Ayu Saraswati, “politik patriakhis “ secara tidak langsung telah membangun kondisi yang kondusif dalam mendorong munculnya kekerasan terhadap perempuan.

Politik Patrkhis ini dalam terlihat dalam muatan RUU APP. Muatan tersebut tidak hanya mengatur masalah pornografi tetapi juga pornoaksi, dimana dilarang bagi setiap orang dewasa, untuk mempertontonkan bagian tubuh tertentu yang sesual antara lain : alat kelamin, PAHA, PINGGUL, PANTAT, PUSAR, dan PAYUDARA perempuan baik terlihat sebagian maupun seluruhnya (Pasal 25). RUU ini secara langsung memasuki wilayah privat perempuan dimana hak otonomi perempuan atas tubuhnya hendak dihapuskan oleh RUU APP ini. Pengaturan mengenai pornoaksi ini berawal dari paradigma kaum patriaki yang menganggap cara berpakaian perempuanlah yang menyebabkan laki-laki menjadi gelap mata sehingga menimbulkan kejahatan terhadap perempuan tersebut. Kasus perkosaan terhadap perempuan menjadi salah satu contoh nyata betapa hokum telah bersikap bias jender terhadap perempuan.

Hukum memandang bahwa perkosaan yang terjadi terhadap perempuan, disebabkan oleh tingkah laku perempuan sebagai korban yang memakai pakaian yang memancing nafsu kaum patriaki. Auran main patriaki menetapkan bahwa perempuan sebagai pihak yang “salah” meskipun dia adalah korban bukan si “pelaku” yang melakukan kejahatan perkosaan tersebut. Oleh karena itu, dalam rangka melindungi perempuan demi keselamatannya, maka diperlukan sebuah undang-undang yang mengatur mengenai cara berpakaian perempuan.

Politik patriakhis tidak mau melihat kenyataan bahwa kaum patriakhi adalah kaum yang lemah bukan kaum yang kuat seperti yang sering digembar-gemborkan. Kaum lelaki mempunyai kelemahan dalam mengontrol emosi dan nafsu yang ada dalam dirinya sendiri. Kelemahan ini dapat diamati dengan fakta dilapangan bahwa hampir sebagaian besar konsumen VCD dan majalah porno adalah lelaki bukan perempuan. Mereka ketagihan dengan hal-hal yang berbau porno sama besarnya seperti ketagihan mereka akan rokok ataupun narkoba. Dimana semakin dilarang, semakin dilakukan. Karena mereka tidak bisa menghentikan ketagihannya tersebut. Mereka bisa memperoleh hal-hal yang berbau prono karena tidak dilarang peredarannya dalam dunia maya alias internet. Mereka bisa saja menyuarakan dengan lantang anti pornografi dan pornoaksi sementara diam-diam mereka menikmati pornografi dan pornoaksi lewat dunia maya alias internet tanpa ada suatu peraturan perundang-undangan pun yang dapat mencegahnya. Banyakpria beristeri yang mempunyai kelainan akibat ketagihan VCD porno tersebut, dimana mereka baru bisa berhubungan dengan isterinya setelah menonton VCD porno itu. Faktanya kaum patriaki yang merasa berhak menentukan kehidupan perempuan “lebih bejat” dari perempuan itu sendiri.

Ancaman yang dilakukan oleh Forum Betawi Rempug terhadap Inul Darastita menunjukkan “sikap munafik” dari kaum patriaki terbadap Inul. Mereka menyukai goyang ngebor inul tetapi mereka marah karena Inul ikut demo anti pornografi dan pornoaksi. Ini jelas merupakan egoisme kaum patriaki yang menolak untuk jujur terhadap dirinya sendiri bahwa mereka lemah dalam mengendalikan emosi mereka terhadap hawa nafsu mereka dalam memandang perempuan. Kelemahan ini juga dapat diamati dalam kehidupan kaum pria beristeri. Para pria beristeri yang melakukan “poligami” walaupun isterinya menutupi seluruh auratnya dan memberikannya keturunan, jelas menunjukkan kelemahan pria tersebut dalam mengendalikan nafsunya terhadap perempuan. Dalam konteks “poligami” ini dapat dilihat bahwa perempuan bukanlah penggoda laki-laki dengan cara berpakaian namun laki-laki tersebut yang memilki masalah dengan dirinya. Dimana “emosi dan nafsu syahwat laki-laki” tidak bisa terkontrol dalam memandang perempuan.Ironisnya, ketika hal itu dipermasalahkan mereka menggunakan dalil agama untuk menutupi kelemahannya dengan mengumandangkan surat suci Al-qur’an.

Kaum lelaki tersebut mengatakan bahwa poligami yang dilakukannya adalah sunah rasul. Padahal sebenarnya mereka melakukannya karena mereka tidak bisa menutupi kelemahannya sendiri tidak pernah merasa puas dengan hanya seorang perempuan. Karena, jika berbicara agama maka harus diingat bahwa nabi Muhamamad SAW tidak pernah menduakan isteri pertamanya yakni Siti Khadijah semasa isterinya tersebut hidup. Nabi baru menikah lagi setelah isteri pertamanya tersebut meninggal dunia. Hal ini sungguh sangat mengharukan betapa setianya nabi Muhammad SAW kepada isterinya Siti Khadijah walaupun usia mereka terpaut jauh 15 tahun, dimana Siti Khadijah lebih tua daripada nabi Muhammad SAW. Seharusnya sebagai lelaki yang dipandang masyarakat dia bisa menikah lagi karena bisa mencukupi anak dan isterinya. Namun nabi Muhammad SAW tidak pernah melakukanya sampai Siti Khadijah meninggal dunia.

Allah SWT memerintahkan nabi Muhammad SAW untuk menikah lagi agar tidak larut dalam kesedihan setelah kematian isterinya Siti Khadijah. Perintah ini diturunkan oleh Allah kepada Nabi Muhammad karena dia harus menyebarkan agama Islam pada masa itu. Tugas Nabi Muhammad tidak dapat terlaksana apabila beliau terus larut dalam kesedihan. Untuk itulah, Allah memerintahkan Nabi Muhammad SAW untuk menikah lagi. Tujuan pernikahan semata-mata dalam rangka penyebaran agama Islam bukan untuk hal yang lainnya. Akan tetapi, tarekh atau sejarah Islam ini seakan-akan ditempiaskan oleh kaum patriaki di Indonesia. Mereka menggunakan dalil agama untuk menjadikan perempuan sebagai perempuan yang lemah.

Perempuan dijadikan kambing hitam oleh laki-laki bahwa merekalah yang menyebabkan lelaki menjadi “gelap mata”, sehingga tak jarang para lelaki tega meninggalkan anak dan isterinya hanya demi seorang perempuan lain yang dianggap lebih bisa mewarnai kehidupannya yang mulai terasa bosan dengan rutinas sehari-hari sebagai kepala rumah tangga. Tidak ada yang pernah menyangka bahwa lelaki itu sendiri yang bermasalah dengan dirinya, karena tidak pernah merasa puas dengan apa yang telah dimilikinya.

Banyak pria beristri di Indonesia yang status perkawinannya dalam Kartu tanda penduduk masih menyatakan diri sebagai “bujang”. Kartu tanda penduduk inilah yang menjadi senjata mereka untuk menikah lagi, tanpa sepengetahuan isterinya. Mereka ini adalah termasuk kelompok yang cerdas dan licik. Mereka mengetahui bahwa Pasal 3 Undang-undang No.1 Tahun 1974 tentang perkawinan menyatakan bahwa poligami diperboleh-kan apabila mendapatkan izin dari isteri pertama. Pasal itu hanya dapat digunakan oleh mereka, apabila status dalam kartu tanda penduduk yang mereka miliki menyatakan bahwa mereka telah menikah. Namun hal itu hanya membuat mereka merasa repot apabila akan menikah lagi. Untuk mengantisipasi hal itu, mereka membuat/memperpanjang kartu tanda penduduk dengan status “bujang” tanpa sepengetahuan isterinya. Kartu inilah yang menjadi alat mereka untuk menikah lagi tanpa seizin isteri pertama.

Jikalau melihat kepada cerita tersebut, maka jelas dapat dikatakan bahwa pria beristeri tersebut telah melakukan suatu tindak kejahatan. Dimana salah satu unsur delik adalah adanya niat. Dalam hal ini pria beristeri tersebut mempunyai niat untuk menyembunyikan identitas dirinya yang asli, bahwa ia adalah pria yang sudah menikah. Sebenarnya menurut ketentuan Pasal 279 ayat 2 Kitab Undang-undang Hukum Pidana perbuatan tersebut dapat dikenakan pidana penjara paling lama tujuh tahun. Secara jelasnya pasal ini berbunyi :“Barangsiapa mengadakan perkawinan dengan menyembunyikan bahwa perkawinan yang ada menjadi penghalang yang sah”, diancam pidana penjara paling lama tujuh tahun.

Pasal ini kemudian dipertegas oleh Pasal 280 Kitab Undang-undang Hukum Pidana yang menyatakan bahwa : “Barangsiapa yang mengadakan perkawinan, padahal sengaja tidak memberitahu kepada pihak lain bahwa ada penghalang yang sah diancam dengan pidana penjara paling lama lima tahun, apabila kemudian berdasarkan penghalang tersebut, perkawinan lalu dinyatakan tidak sah. Pasal ini dapat ditafsirkan bahwa orang yang sengaja tidak memberitahukan kepada pasangannya bahwa dia sudah pernah nikah kemudian ketahuan oleh isteri pertama yang meminta pembatalan atas pernikahan tersebut, maka sang suami diancam dengan pidana paling lama 5 tahun penjara.

Kuatnya aturan main politik patriakis dibumi Indonesia, menyebabkan kedua pasal ini tidak pernah diimplementasikan dalam kehidupan masyarakat. Hal ini disebabkan adanya pembenaran terhadap perkawinan lebih dari seorang isteri yang notabene pembenaran ini bertolak belakang dengan pengaturan yang ada pada kedua pasal ini. Ironisnya, ketika isteri yang berselingkuh dan ketahuan oleh pihak suami, maka aparat penegak hukum dengan serta menjerat sang isteri ke jeruji dengan mengacu kepada pasal 284 ayat 1 butir b yang menyatakan bahwa : “ seorang wanita yang telah kain yang melakukan gendak (overspel) padahal berlaku pasal 27 BW baginya akan diancam pidana penjara paling lama sembilan bulan. Sebenarnya pasal 284 ayat 1 butir a juga mengatur hal yang sama untuk laki-laki, namun karena aturan patriaki membenarkan adanya poligami maka hal itu tidak pernah dianggap sebagai sebuah “ pelanggaran hukum”. Razia Kartu Tanda Penduduk yang dilakukan oleh Pemda harusnya tidak hanya melihat “warga” atau bukan “warga” yang menetap dalam suatu daerah, tetapi juga bisa menjaring pemalsuan identitas yang dilakukan oleh para pria hidung belang dengan oknum pemerintahan daerah setempat. Pengawasan terhadap pemalsuan identitas kartu tanda penduduk penting karena kartu ini termasuk akta otentik menurut hokum. Dimana dalam pasal 286 ayat 1 Kitab Undang-undang Hukum Pidana mengatakan bahwa : “Barang siapa menyuruh mamsukan keterangan palsu ke dalam suatu akta otentik mengenai sesuatu hal yang kebenarannya harus dinyatakan oleh akta itu, dengan maksud untuk memakai atau menyuruh orang lain memakai akta itu seolah-olah keterangannya sesuai dnegan kebenaran, diancam jika pemakaian itu dapat menimbulkan kerugian, pidana penjara paling lama tujuh tahun.”

Menurut pasal ini, seharusnya keterangan telah menikah tersebut dimasukkan kartu tanda penduduk karena memang benar lelaki tersebut telah menikah, namun karena kelicikannya lelaki tersebut bekerja sama dengan oknum pemerintah daerah memalsukan kebenaran telah menikah menjadi bujangan. Perbuatan ini seharusnya dapat diancam pidana penjara. Namun sayangnya lagi-lagi peraturan tinggalah peraturan. Beberapa pasal yang ada dalam Kitab Undang-undang Hukum Pidana bagaikan macan ompong yang tidak ada taringnya. Semua karena hokum dibuat oleh kaum lelaki yang mengingkan kepentingannya terlindungi. Berdasarkan semua penjelasan diatas, maka dapat disimpulkan bahwa kelompok yang mendukung RUU APP untuk disahkan karena mereka ingin berlindung dibalik RUU APP itu guna menutupi kelemahannya dalam mengontrol emosi dan nafsu syahwatnya dalam memandang perempuan. Namun demikian, hal ini tidak boleh dibiarkan oleh perempuan karena hanya akan semakin memperbesar peluang kaum lelaki dalam melakukan penindasan terhadap kaum perempuan dari seluruh aspek kehidupan. Untuk itu, maka kaum perempuan perlu menyatukan irama, gerak dan langkah guna melawan kekerasan yang memakai cara-cara maskulin terhadap pelanggaran hak perempuan atas otonomi tubuh perempuan. Bangkitlah kaum perempuan dari penindasan kaum patriaki ………….!!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The standard of beauty ...

One day when teaching expressions on how to give suggestion to someone else, I asked my students to create a problem. After that, I asked a student to say his/her problem, and asked another student to give suggestion/advice.

One female student said, “My hair is wavy. I don’t like it. Can you suggest me how to make it straight?”Before choosing another student to give a suggestion to that so-called problem, I asked her back, “Is that your real problem? Or just a made-up one?”

She answered, “It’s my real problem, Ma’am. You know that wavy hair is ugly. Straight hair is more beautiful.”

“Do you know why you came to such a conclusion? It is coz we are bombarded by many commercials on TV that beautiful hair is straight; that having wavy hair is not well-liked; that even your parents-in-law-to-be will refuse you only coz you have wavy hair; coz your boyfriend will leave you for another girl only for her long straight hair. The message is clear: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL IF YOUR HAIR IS STRAIGHT. Why? So that you will buy their products that promise will make your hair straight.”

“But, Ma’am, don’t you agree that straight hair is more beautiful than wavy hair?” she protested.
“Have you ever heard that in 1980s having wavy, even curly hair was more well-liked? Many people went to beauty parlor to have their hair curled. It was totally on the contrary from the present days. In that decade, people thought that wavy or curly hair was more beautiful than straight one.”

The students were speechless to hear me say so. Well, all of my students were still around one or two years old when wavy and curly hair was popular. Not only in Indonesia at that time, I suppose, coz I remember the trendsetters for hair at that time were for example the singers from Duran Duran, or Bon Jovi.

*****

Another occasion. I oral examined a female student. She has fair complexion. And she said to me, “I am lucky to have this fair complexion from both of my parents.”“Why do you think that you are lucky?”

“Well, don’t you agree with me Ma’am that having fair complexion is more beautiful?”“Yeah, but you are lucky having that fair complexion only in this era, and only in our country, coz people from other countries don’t give a damn whether someone has fair or dark complexion. People having dark complexion are also pretty. Many people in fact think that having dark complexion is exotic. By the way, have you ever heard that even in the 1980s Indonesia, having dark skin was more well-liked than having fair one coz in that decade people believed that dark meant sweet?”

She was dumbfounded to hear me say so.

*****

Since the end of 1990s when many soap operas from Taiwan boomed in Indonesia, this phenomenon—that pretty means having fair complexion and long straight hair—has started to spread in Indonesia. Many good-looking actors and actresses with oriental faces and their fair complexion and straight hair became new idols here. And the result: many of them became new icons of beauty in Indonesia. During Soeharto and his New Order regime, there was strong repression for Chinese culture in Indonesia. After his regime was over, and the following presidents were more welcome with Chinese culture, especially during Gus Dur’s short presidency, this phenomenon made people more exposed to these Oriental things.

It is different from 1980s decade where western things were more popular. Farrah Fawcett was very beautiful with her wavy hair. Although FF had white complexion, Indonesian people at that time knew that we couldn’t become like FF coz she was American. So we only paid attention to her hair. However, those Oriental actresses are Asian, like us, not far different from us.

Capitalists saw it as a very good chance to make profit for them. To make their products sold out, they always made commercials related to these oriental things—such as to make their shampoo able to make hair straight (“Commercials are always silly, Mom, don’t take them to your heart.” my daughter said when I complained to watch those sucking commercials. LOL. ), their soap can enlighten someone’s complexion. They also produce more and more whitening products for skin with those silly clips, such as I mentioned above, “Your boyfriend will leave you for another girl who has straight hair coz yours is wavy.” “Your in-laws-to-be will reject you only coz of your wavy hair.” “Boys are never attracted to girls who have dark complexion.” “Your husband will leave you only coz of your dark complexion.” And many other ridiculous and silly topics.

And many students of mine who don’t have critical way of thinking yet, become the victims of those silly commercials. Many of them become inferior coz they don’t fulfill the standard of recent beauty—having fair complexion and long straight hair. And the capitalists make more and more profit. Besides, those producers of commercial clips have made many teenagers foolish (by thinking that boys are only attracted to girls with straight hair; that having straight hair is more favorable rather than having smart and critical mind; that boys are only attracted to physical beauty rather than inner beauty.)

23.16 260406

RUU APP 2

Seperti yang telah kukemukakan dalam artikelku yang berjudul “RUU APP?”, bahwa masalah yang paling mendasar dari mengemukanya RUU APP adalah cara berpikir laki-laki yang senantiasa memandang perempuan sebagai objek seksual. Ingin sekali lagi lewat artikel ini aku mengatakannya kembali. Terutama bagi seseorang yang telah berusaha mengirimkan komentarnya, tanpa menyebutkan identitas dirinya, hanya menyebutkan alamat blognya yakni di http://ruuapp.blogspot.comKalau orang-orang berpikir bahwa mereka-mereka yang tidak setuju dengan adanya RUU APP berarti mereka (termasuk aku di sini) pro pornografi dan pornoaksi, itu SALAH BESAR. seperti yang telah kutulis juga di artikel sebelum ini, apakah dengan menutupi seluruh tubuh perempuan, akan selesai permasalahan porno-pornoan ini? TIDAK. Karena yang porno itu tidaklah terletak pada tubuh perempuan, melainkan pada OTAK LAKI-LAKI yang selalu berpikir bahwa perempuan adalah objek seksual semata. Dengan mengatakan, “Salahkan saja Tuhan yang telah menciptakan tubuh perempuan begitu indah untuk dinikmati”, itu berarti anda menunjukkan diri sebagai orang yang hanya berani melempar batu dan sembunyi tangan. Anda yang melempar batu dan tidak mau mengakui. Anda yang menikmati tubuh perempuan dengan mata jalang anda, tapi yang anda salahkan adalah Tuhan yang telah menciptakan perempuan. Anda yang tidak mampu mengontrol otak anda yang berpikiran ngeres, perempuan yang disalahkan. Anda yang salah namun mengambinghitamkan perempuan. Apakah dengan menyeragamkan semua perempuan untuk memakai baju yang sama—menutupi seluruh tubuh mereka—akan menghentikan praktek perkosaan dan pelecehan seksual? TIDAK, selama otak laki-laki tetap ngeres. Justru, mereka akan semakin penasaran untuk melihat ada apa dibalik pakaian perempuan? Mereka akan semakin tertantang untuk mengetahui ada apa di balik tubuh yang ditutupi rapat itu.Apakah dengan menjauhkan VCD-VCD BF maupun majalah-majalah porno itu dari rumah anda—dalam lingkup kecil—dan seluruh Indonesia—dalam lingkup besar—akan menyelesaikan semua permasalahan ini? TIDAK, selama laki-laki tidak berubah cara berpikir mereka untuk lebih menghormati perempuan; bahwa perempuan bukan makhluk yang hanya untuk dilecehkan.Kita harus berusaha mencari jalan keluar untuk mengurangi praktek perkosaan dan pelecehan seksual, termasuk juga perdagangan perempuan dan anak-anak dari akarnya, bukan hanya sekedar memenjarakan kaum perempuan dengan adanya RUU APP itu, tapi tidak memenjarakan kaum laki-laki yang telah melecehkan kaum perempuan, atau pun kalau memenjarakan namun tanpa hukuman yang setimpal. Tatkala ada tayangan-tayangan di televisi yang menunjukkan bagian-bagian tubuh yang bagi sebagian kaum laki-laki menjadi bernafsu, apakah yang salah si perempuan itu? TIDAK. Salahkan saja itu kaum kapitalis yang mengambil keuntungan dari para perempuan yang membutuhkan uang, dan itu mungkin satu-satunya cara mereka mencari uang. Karena kalau pun toh para perempuan itu menolak untuk tampil seperti itu di layar televisi, atau pun di mana saja, kaum kapitalis yang memiliki uang akan mencari perempuan-perempuan lain yang bersedia. Jangan salahkan kaum perempuan yang terpojok seperti itu, tanpa mengambil tindakan apa pun kepada mereka yang telah memproduksi tayangan seperti itu.
Jangan salahkan kaum perempuan yang dengan sangat terpaksa menjual tubuhnya untuk mencari sesuap nasi, karena kalau tidak ada konsumen—yang nota bene kaum laki-laki—mereka-mereka pun akan berhenti. Mereka ada karena kaum laki-laki yang brhidung belang itu ada.Bacalah puisi di bawah ini yang kebetulan kudapatkan dari seorang teman, yang aku yakin sudah beredar bebas di internet.

Aku Pria Jalang
Dari Kumpulannya Yang Terbuang
Aku Kecantol Wanita Jalang
Demi Tubuhnya Kuhambur Uang
Gejolak Hasrat Nafsu Berpetualang
Membuat Masakan Di Rumah Terasa Kurang

Aku Anak Manusia, Aku Anak Malang
Affairku Akhirnya Tercium Orang

Karir Sukses Akhirnya Hilang
Karena Ada Kelemahanku Yang Bisa Diserang

Semuanya Hancur Gara-gara Selembar Kutang
Kepada Siapa Aku Pantas Berang?
Semua Kesalahan Kulimpahkan Kepada Si Jalang

Tetapi Sebenarnya Godaan Si Wanita Jalang
Takkan Mempan Kalau Akunya Sendiri Tidak Jalang!
Kesadaran Selalu Datang Menjelang Petang
Kini Yang Ku-punya Tinggal Tulang
Tapi Sebelum Aku Berpulang

Aku Ingin Berpesan Kepada Sesama Hidung Belang !
Kiamat segera datang.......!!!!
Tobatlah mulai sekarang......

Dan juga puisi berikut ini yang dikirimkan oleh seorang teman untukku.

a womans prison is in the mind
a mans prison he will find
that pale yellow wallpaper around the room
helps the thoughts and helps to groom
each person has the truth inside
all it needs to open wide
truth and honesty with careful thought
deceit and hate we need to halt
look outside at the sun and rain
we need them both like wheat and grain
food for thought we have within
let it out to stop decayin
women and men must live together
or end up as cold as a glacier
so dont think of life as a strangled cry
think of life as a small mayfly

flying free up in the air
looking at life so happy and fair
explosions of colour up high and below
red, blue, and green and even YELLOW.

Hidup ini akan lebih indah jika laki-laki perempuan saling menghormati, saling meyakini keberadaan masing-masing di dunia ini untuk saling melengkapi, dan bukan untuk satu pihak yang merasa lebih berkuasa untuk kemudian melecehkan pihak yang lain, memenjarakan satu pihak karena justru dialah yang tidak mampu mengontrol diri sendiri.

Thanks for your attention.

11.12 270406

Friday, April 21, 2006

Mental Depression

A friend of mine has been involved in PRANIC healing for some years.
If you want to know what PRANIC healing is all about, you can visit the following website.


At first, she joined one workshop held by it for her own medication coz she has been suffering from poor eyesight since she was in elementary school (she is in her mid thirties now). Wearing glasses only is not enough for her. And she has tried some other alternative medication (e.g. drinking herbs, consuming lots of carrots, nerve massages around her eyes, acupuncture, etc), but they didn’t work on her.

In fact, after joining the workshop, and sometimes attending the clinic for medication and practicing, she involved herself to that clinic, not for her own medication though. She became one volunteer to try healing patients suffering from any kind of illness. One interesting thing she told me is that many women coming to that clinic told her that they were suffering from splitting headache. Those women have consulted their doctors but they couldn’t find out the causes of the headache. The medicine given to them didn’t work well. They also have consulted a sinshe (a sort of traditional physician popularly known in China) and consumed traditional medicine given by the sinshe, and still it didn’t work either.

My friend, trying to find out what caused the headache, asked those women about their daily life. Her suspicion was that they were suffering from mental depression, therefore a general practitioner couldn’t find anything wrong with their body coz they needed to consult a psychiatrist. However, they didn’t want to admit that in fact they were depressed coz in Indonesia when someone consults a psychiatrist, people will easily judge him or her as insane or lunatic. Insanity is believed as a curse illness and someone cannot be healed back like before. Well, this is in Indonesia.

Why women?

I relate it to this male-dominated world with its patriarchal culture. The belief that women are only the Second Sex as Beauvoir stated is still strong so that men feel deserved to oppress women, by saying e.g. “I know this case better than you do. Leave it up to me. You don’t need to do anything in it.” or, “This is man’s stuff. You don’t need to involve yourself in this case.” “I do this because I love you, so you’ve got to understand me. This is for your own sake.”

People are different from one another. Some women perhaps will agree that their husbands love them very dearly when those men say so to them. However, it is also possible that many other women feel forced to understand it. Nevertheless, they cannot do anything because patriarchal culture, and oftentimes legitimated by religion’s teaching, says that women must obey their husbands, must submit themselves to their husbands, must agree when their husbands opine something.

One example happened to my old friend. Some years ago, she visited me and told me about one case that happened between her husband and her, relating to where (in what school) their first child would continue the study. My friend had different idea from her husband. She kept trying to convince him that her choice was better for their son’s future while her husband didn’t agree with her. After some days arguing, my friend at last gave in, when her husband said to her, “You don’t consider me as a man? Why don’t you listen to me?”

What a foolish statement it was. To me it was. YOU ARE A MAN ONLY IF YOUR WIFE LISTENS TO YOU, OBEYS YOU, SUBMIT TO YOU. But, abracadabra … it worked well to silence this old friend of mine!!! “I cannot argue anymore after he said such a thing to me.” she went on telling me.

If this phenomenon happens now and again, it is not impossible if then it will engender the feeling of being oppressed to women. For some women who think that they are indeed the second sex, must give priority to their husband, it will be just okay. For some other women, they will feel differently. However, coz they think that MEN ARE CREATED TO BE SUPERIOR, they cannot do much. They just keep what they think inside their heart/mind and think, “My happiness is not important. What I think is not important.” But in fact, without their awareness it bothers their mind, this case can trigger mental depression, although they don’t want to admit it.

The education given by their parents that the happiness of their husband and children is more important than their own also takes part in increasing the tendency of women to suffer from mental depression. Feeling that they are not important before their husbands and children will make many women underestimate themselves. The feeling being underestimated is similar to the feeling not important. When doing anything for the family, they must put the husband in the first priority, then the children. They are the last. Sometimes those women even don’t have time to comfort or satisfy themselves coz they have to take care of their husband and children. And this is taken for granted.

I want to refer to what Virginia Woolf said in her book A Room of One’s Own that everybody needs some time and some place to be alone, to be themselves, apart from their role as a mother and wife and do anything they want. People indeed need it.
Going back to my friend’s experience in the PRANIC clinic, she told me that she couldn’t convince those female patients that they probably suffered from mental depression. In Indonesia with still very strong gender-biased culture, it is still difficult to tell those (I call it conventional) women that it is okay for them to do anything to comfort themselves, that they need some time to be apart from their daily responsibilities. They also deserve to take some days off to be homemakers.

21.26 13042006

Feminine? Who cares?

I have one female workmate who likes carrying backpack when going to the office. With she wearing a suit (trousers and a blazer), I believe people will find her look weird. It is widely assumed that when women wear a suit, they are supposed to carry a handbag, and not a backpack. Some students of ours comment on this habit of hers by saying, “She is really funky.” LOL. My workmate’s simple reason is, “Well, with this backpack, I can carry lots of books and many other things too.” It is absolutely logical, isn’t it?
Another workmate of mine who likes wearing a long dress and a blazer, likes wearing sneakers and sometimes I see her carrying backpack too. One day she told me that it was very common for her to find people on the bus look at her big backpack weirdly while she looked feminine with her long dress. I bet those bus passengers thought that my workmate was supposed to carry a handbag. LOL. People who carry backpack mostly wear jeans and a T-shirt; and they don’t go to the office but going hiking or camping. LOL. Some months ago, a student bought her a handbag. My friend commented, “So, you give me this handbag coz you consider it is not appropriate for a female employee like me carrying a backpack or what?” LOL. That particular student didn’t answer, just smiled. In the meantime, some other students commented on her wearing sneakers. (Perhaps on the bus, the passengers didn’t have time to look at her till her feet wearing sneakers. ) “Why does that Ms. X like wearing her child’s sneakers? She doesn’t have high-heeled shoes?” LOL. Well, her simple reason is, “It is really much more comfortable wearing sneakers rather than high-heeled shoes. I can run faster when the situation obliges me to do it.” LOL. Whenever she comes to a new class, and she realizes that the students in that class look at her sneakers weirdly, she says that reason.
Well, this happens in Indonesia where people easily judge other people ABNORMAL only coz they don’t follow society’s norms, including those simple things, such as wearing sneakers or high-heeled shoes, carrying a backpack or a handbag for female employees.
I really like this new generation of women who don’t really give a damn on stereotypical feminine roles for women. Who says that women must be feminine?
21.53 13042006

The Summary of "The Yellow Wallpaper"

The story is about a married woman, a mother of a very young child who suffers from a postpartum depression after delivering the baby. She is slowly driven into madness by the patriarchal authorities around her.
Suffering from nervous disorders, she is taken to a solitary mansion, in a remote area, away from her friends and neighbors, by her husband who happens to have the most professional profession in the nineteenth century as a physician. In that era, the most well-known prescription for people suffering from nervous disorders is bed-rest; having inactive life. This prescription is proposed by S Weir Mitchell. Gilman intentionally mentions Mitchell’s name in the novella to show that there is a very strong relationship between her novella and her real experience.
In the solitary mansion, the nameless narrator is put in a room, which formerly was a nursery on the second floor with its barred windows originally intended to prevent small children from falling out. The room is “decorated” with the fateful yellow wallpaper that later on apparently drives her to insanity gradually.
Having nothing to do during her “imprisonment” in the yellow wallpapered room, this intelligent and ambitious woman spent her idle time by writing in her journal a bit, a kind of “work” that is strongly prohibited to do by her husband. Therefore, she has to do it secretly. She has to close her journal as soon as someone comes to her, either her very own husband, or her sister-in-law that obviously gets task to “watch” her.
Increasingly she concentrates her attention on the wallpaper in her room—a paper of a sickly yellow that both disgusts and fascinates her. The paper symbolizes her situation as seen by the men who control her and hence her situation as seen by herself. The wallpaper consists of “lame uncertain curves” that suddenly “commit suicide—destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions.” There are pointless patterns in the paper, which the narrator nevertheless determines to pursue to some conclusion. Fighting for her identity, that just as she is about to find some pattern and meaning in it, it “slaps you in the fact, knocks you down, and tramples upon you.”
Inevitably, therefore, the narrator, imprisoned within the room thinks she discerns the figure of a woman behind the paper. The paper is barred—that is part of what pattern it has, and the woman is trapped behind the bars, trying to get free. Ultimately, in the narrator’s distraught state, there are a great many women behind the patterned bars, all trying to get free.
Being busy to watch the pattern of the wallpaper and the figure of a woman behind it, the narrator seemingly sees herself there. The woman is trapped behind the pattern of the wallpaper, the narrator is trapped inside her barred room on the second floor. Feeling sorry for the woman, the narrator wants to free her by peeling the wallpaper, to give the woman way out of the entrapment. It shows her hidden wish, to free herself from her husband’s imprisonment.
By the end of the story, the narrator can peel all of the wallpaper and free the woman. Her quickly worsening mental inevitably puts her in the woman’s position. After “freeing” herself from the wallpaper, she creeps all the room, to enjoy her “freedom”. “I’ve got out at last, … And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” (Bauer, 1998:58)

Writing Cure

In her short story entitled “The Yellow Wallpaper”, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a feminist writer from America living from 1860 till 1935 proposed writing to cure mental illness. In the short story, Gilman illustrated the heroine who suffered from postpartum depression was prescribed bed rest by her physician husband. Her husband insisted that she avoid intellectual activities such as reading, writing and painting. This is compatible with what Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar said in their book The Madwoman in the Attic that “the activity of writing, or producing art, was fraught with anxiety for most nineteenth-century women.” intellectual activities were believed to enhance the tendency for women to suffer from nervous breakdown in the nineteenth century America.
Since the heroine in the short story was prohibited to write by her husband, although she believed that writing even could help cure her, she had to write secretly, when her husband or her sister-in-law was not around her. Or, when she was writing, and then she saw one of them coming, she had to put her book and pencil aside quickly in order that they wouldn’t find her writing.
Gilman ended the story by leading the heroine into insanity. When this is viewed from Freud’s psychoanalytical theory, we can say that Gilman’s suppressed wish was that women would be led into insanity if they were not allowed to write, to express themselves openly and freely; women would be suffering from nervous breakdown during her entire lifetime when they were not respected as individual and were heard. Not all women in general, of course, but especially bright, articulate, hardworking and ambitious women who didn’t feel enough to have inactive life, without involving their intellectuality.
Diane Price Herndl in her book entitled Invalid Women, Figuring Feminine Illness in American Fiction and culture, 1840-1940 stated that “Gilman was never entirely free of her nervousness, but after becoming an active writer and speaker, she never suffered from it to the same degree as she had earlier.” She escaped from bed-rest medication prescribed by S. Weir Mitchell—the most well-known neurologist in the nineteenth century America when she suffered from postpartum depression after delivering her only child, Katharine. Gilman cured herself from her postpartum depression and nervousness by resuming her intellectual life—writing and lecturing about men-women equality all over America and some countries in Europe.
In the meantime …
I find many people around me underestimating the power of writing. Some months ago one private student of mine, female, in her early forties, told me that it is useless to write, especially write diary. Some female workmates of mine also said the same thing. They argued, “When you are married, your husband is your best friend, your best audience to talk to, to listen to you. Besides, after getting married, you belong to your husband. What if he doesn’t let you write? What if he says that it is better for you to use the time to write diary to be with your husband?”
Don’t they perceive egotism of men in those arguments? An understanding husband will let his wife have some time to be alone, if that’s what his wife needs—let’s say time to write a diary; time to be with her friends. Getting married doesn’t mean that people no longer socialize with their old friends, or even have new friends.
And I believe in writing, people can sharpen their ability in analyzing something; perhaps in some ways it is similar to having oral discussion with someone. However, writing really helps when people want to analyze something when nobody is around.
And I could perceive that in fact in that private student of mine’s case, she needed a trustworthy friend who is not her husband, someone else. She needed a good friend to talk to, to listen to her, that, to me, it could be substituted by a diary. “Writing diary? Count me out. Besides I am not good in writing, I don’t want my husband to read what I write. Don’t you agree with me that sometimes we also have right to have secret? I don’t want my husband to know what I write, just like I don’t want my husband to know what I usually talk to you.”
BINGO!
At last she admitted it; she needed a media to express something she could not express to her husband. Only unfortunately, she couldn’t write. And she didn’t even want to try it. I wish she tried it and found the amazing function of writing in expressing herself.
Another friend said to me that at last she needed to have a friend to discuss anything at home when she found out that in fact she no longer found her husband as a good partner in debate, due to the intellectual gap between them. “Sometimes I am tired to talk to him. He doesn’t understand. He even doesn’t want to try to understand what I am talking about. If he tries to give comment, it just shows that he doesn’t understand the core of the problem.” One day she complained to me. In my opinion, she still can sharpen her ability in having discussion by writing it--by discussing it with herself. This is what I sometimes do in writing some articles for my blog. But she said, “Well, I accept my life like this now. I married my husband coz I love him. He is my own choice.”
I observe that in Indonesia recently blogging has been more and more popular. This is a very good phenomenon, I believe. More and more people will try to write. More and more people want to share what they have in mind with other people via writing. The main obstacle, in my opinion, is that internet connection is still expensive in Indonesia. Not many people can afford to access it everyday. Therefore, since blogging is considered a serious and intellectual thing and many people access internet only to have fun (IN INDONESIA!!!), not many netters use this blogging technology yet. Some students of mine don’t show their interest yet. They say, “I go online to cyber cafes for fun, Ma’am, not to do something serious like that. No.” Some other students say, “Writing? Count me out.”
Well, I hope gradually more people will write after they find the useful function of writing. Just like what I mentioned in the beginning of this article, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and some other female writers in the nineteenth century America found writing as medication for their nervousness.
17.55 16042006

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Divorce

When I was a kid, my mother taught me not to change plates when eating. She said, “If you eat in two different plates in one meal, let’s say, it will make you have two husbands later on.” It is indeed a MYTH; a popular myth in my culture. Coz divorce is always considered something bad, wrong, sinful, unhappy, miserable, etc, many people don’t want to get divorced. (Read => don’t want to be gossiped by people around, don’t want to be looked at weirdly, don’t want to be considered to deviate from society’s norm)

People are encouraged to keep their marriage until the end of their lives, no matter what happens; no matter how vulnerable the marriage is inside; no matter how temperamental, selfish, ignorant, irresponsible the husband is. Living married is considered to be perfect, happy. You are to show that happiness to people around although in fact you are broken inside. It is caused by the consensus that living single means hellish life (to be looked at pitifully, to feel lonely, etc.)

Approaching the twenty first century, I observed that in Indonesia more and more people get divorced. More and more women are confident to file divorce. Especially women who work outside are more aware that they have equal right with their husbands. They are not just property that can be treated just as their husbands like, despite the dowry they have got before getting married. They have more bargaining power before their husbands. Of course, these people realize that their happiness inside their heart is more important than just fake happiness they are to show neighbors, workmates in a marriage.

Different from Catholic that doesn’t approve divorce, in Islam, it is okay to get divorced (though it is stated that one thing God hates most is divorce.) Nevertheless, there are many religious programs on television or books teaching women to be pious wives to manage pious family so that divorce will not happen easily. Women always get heavier burden to submit themselves in front of their husbands to avoid friction, quarrel, and fight, to make “sakinah” family. (Sakinah => pious, peaceful, loving, caring)

Therefore, I really appreciate those women who daringly file a divorce when they feel that the marriage doesn’t work as what they expect before; when their husband doesn’t treat them well. Maintaining a marriage well is absolutely not as easy as turning palm hand upside down. Those women are confident to be considered to deviate from society’s norm, to be considered as women who do not easily thank God for what they have got in their life, to face their future by themselves financially (although the ex husbands are to be responsible for their children’s welfare after getting divorced according to the law, many men don’t care with that), to be looked at pitifully, and worse, to be considered as a “threat” by other women who suddenly fear that their husbands will seduce those “lonely” divorcee living around.

I remember when I was a kid, Liz Taylor, that Hollywood movie star, got married many times. People in Indonesia, of course, easily judged her as not a good woman. I am wondering how people in other countries saw her. LOL.

Some time ago, when a friend talked to me about her neighbor who has four children from four different men, and judged her not as a good woman, I easily commented, “Wow … isn’t it very creative? How nice it is to have four children from different men. It must be exciting, don’t you agree with me?” LOL. This friend of mine looked at me weirdly, but then forced herself to laugh together with me. LOL.

Going back to the myth to change plates when eating meals. Some time ago when my daughter wanted to change plates when having a meal, my youngest sister commented, “Don’t do it, honey. It will make you have two husbands later. You don’t want it, do you?” I responded, “Well, there is nothing wrong to have two husbands later. I consider it more creative than just to have one husband. Getting divorced is okay if it will make you even happier.” LOL.

FYI, I don’t teach my only daughter to believe in such myths without any logical explanation.

13.16 09042006

Dowry

Some weeks ago, one headline in the local newspaper published in my hometown,Semarang talked about one popular singer from Malaysia, Siti Nurhaliza who was said was just proposed by a wealthy businessman who was in his mid forties. Datuk, that’s his nickname, has given her, as a dowry, a very luxurious car and house that perhaps cost more than US $ 425,000. When I saw his picture in the newspaper, I said, “Well, he’s good looking enough.” A female workmate—around 26 years old—commented, “His money made him look handsome. Anyway, who will refuse to be given a dowry that expensive? No woman will refuse, of course.” (FYI, this workmate of mine was proposed by her boyfriend some months ago and now she is still preparing her wedding ceremony.) I commented back (with my cynical character L), “Do you want to sell yourself? Do you consider yourself as a property and deserve to be bought that expensive?”

“Well, I don’t think it is about buying and selling in a marriage. ...” that’s her reply. I didn’t comment more. I knew she belongs to the conventional type (I concluded like that from our daily encounter and talk) and it would be difficult for her to accept my viewpoint that there is not much different of a role of a housewife from that of a prostitute. Paying some amount of money in the form of dowry is similar to a case when a customer pays a prostitute before (or after?) having sex. I didn’t want to “poison” her. LOL.

I remember the four main attributes of a “true” woman in The Cult of True Womanhood appearing in the nineteenth century America; namely, piety, purity, domesticity, and submission. The second attribute—purity—obliged women to be pure, virgin, before the first night of her wedding coz she had to give her virginity to her husband as the payment of the dowry her husband had paid to her parents. While for the other three attributes, they were the “service” she had to give her husband as the payment of the monthly paycheck she received after marrying him.

No wonder, then, if men thought that their women were their property, coz of the amount of money those men had to pay.

In Javanese culture, in Java island where I live, one big island in Indonesia—the most populated one—dowry is called “tukon” that can be interpreted as money used to buy something. As many other ethnic groups in the world, in Javanese culture, men pay the dowry to the bride’s family. Many parents who consider their daughters as their property will sell their daughters with high price, as the “substitute” of the amount of money they have spent to raise the daughters—food, clothes, shelter, including education. Those parents want the money they have spent back by “selling” their daughters.

This culture dates back from the time immemorial. After getting married, women will feel that they are responsible to take care of their husband’s need; such as preparing meals, washing clothes, cleaning the house, etc. For men who used to be independent before getting married, doing all those things by themselves, after getting married suddenly they no longer can do them, they depend on their wife. The one who buys is the superior. The one who is bought is the servant, the submissive.

However, there is one ethnic group in Indonesia that has contradictory culture in paying dowry. In Minang culture located in Sumatra island, women pay the dowry. If one woman wants to propose a man who is good-looking, she must pay expensive, the more quality the more expensive, that’s for sure. The following question, then, is whether Minang women then are superior to their husband coz they are the one who buy? NO is the answer. The responsibilities given to women as servant—cooking to prepare meals, cleaning the house, washing and ironing clothes—still belong to women. With their unique culture called “matrilineal”, men in Minang culture are not responsible toward their wife and children financially. Instead, they are responsible toward their nephews and nieces of their daughters. Women in Minang are indeed more unfortunate than Javanese women, I assume. They have to spend some money to “buy” their husband-to-be so that they will get married. (Don’t forget Indonesia’s marriage-oriented society, you are NORMAL only when you are married after reaching a certain age.) After the wedding, instead of being the “owner” of the “property” they have bought, those Minang women must serve their husband, and their husband doesn’t need to finance their household. It is very possible for irresponsible men to ignore the needs of their wife and children coz in fact it is justified by the local culture. It will be more unfortunate for women who don’t have any brother that is obliged to be responsible for the lives of the sister and nieces/nephews.

Going back to Siti Nurhaliza’s case. She is a very popular and talented singer. It is very logical then if she deserves to get very expensive car and house as the dowry although she herself doesn’t really need that money (at least, this is my way of thinking J) coz she is already rich to be number one singer in Malaysia. :)

22.16 08042006

Thursday, April 06, 2006

In a relationship

Today, Thursday, April 6, 2006, I have been sitting in front of this computer for some hours, exactly around two and a half hours, checking emails and blogging. Some time ago, some workmates of mine were here after we attended a teachers' meeting. After the meeting, some friends lingered, and some others left directly, perhaps coz they had to go somewhere else, to help make their ends meet. :-D

I have nothing to do today, so I continued sitting on this chair, staring at the monitor, checking emails, opening some posts of mine in my blogs, reading some friends' comments, opening some friends' blogs, writing comments on their posts, bla bla bla ...

It is 1pm right now. Most of my workmates have gone. I stay put. I want to write something here coz I feel restless. But I don't think I can write what has made me restless here.

Ah, suddenly I remember one post of my friend, about "relationship". What is relationship? What's so important in it? Is it a must to get involved in a relationship? Or is it just a right?

As someone who gives the most priority for people to be themselves, of course I will say that to be involved in a relationship is just someone's right. It depends on us how much we need to be in a relationship. Perhaps people will say that everybody needs to be in a relationship. NO MAN IS AN ISLAND. It means everybody will always need everybody else. We are social creatures so of course we need other people.

But, what I mean as relationship is not such a thing. In a relationship = when we are involved with someone else emotionally, including physically and spiritually.

Recently, more and more women refuse to be involved in a relationship coz they are not sure if they still enjoy their FREEDOM as a woman, to do anything they want to do. My sister's friend, for example. She got involved in a bit serious relationship with one of her ex classmate at college. When their relationship was getting more serious, in fact, she started to ask herself whether she really needs to be TIED, with many responsibilities (well, we cannot avoid those relationships, can't we? Our choices in life in doing something will always engender some responsibilities we have to hold.) For example, she loves writing, and works a freelance writer. She usually writes in the middle of the night when it is quiet and she if full of ideas. Will her lover let her do that? Many men think that, one "advantage" to get married is to get "live blanket" accompanying them in the night. Will they let their "live blanket" sit in front of a computer and busy typing something? This is only one example.

Now I want to talk about myself. When living in a boarding house in Yogya alone, I was often awake till midnight, sometimes more than midnight, perhaps busy typing something in my computer, or writing diary, or reading books. I usually let the lamp on so that when suddenly I was awake in the middle of my sleep, I could easily continue reading, or jump from my bed to the stool in front of the computer and continue typing.

After I went back to my hometown, I shared the bedroom with my only teenaged daughter. She usually goes to bed early, around 9-10pm. She will complain if the lights are still on coz she loves sleeping in the dark. It means I cannot type on my computer or read books before sleeping. I must say that I have lost of many ideas to write due to this.

She has my flesh, and bones, and blood. I cannot be selfish to force her to sleep with the lights on, although sometimes I still do that, and ask her understanding. And since she was born, we have been involved emotionally, spritually, physically, intellectually, bla bla bla ...

I am wondering whether I can lose more FREEDOM to do anything else in my life if I am to live in a relationship with selfish companion ("Darling, it's already late, why don't you just turn the computer and the lights off and go to bed with me? It is for your own health, for your own sake." it can be read, actually that he just doesnt let his live blanket away from him in the night! "Honey, why don't you close your book and put it away now? You can continue reading it tomorrow with fresher body after resting your body this whole night. It is for your own health. You will not need to wear thicker glasses. and so on and so forth ...)

Well, everything changes. This is the best natural law. Perhaps I will change too one day. Perhaps later I will fall for someone madly, deeply, blindly, truly, bla bla bla ... and I will leave all those habits PEACEFULLY? (and lose my being creative? ups ...)

(NOTE: it is your own mistake, Nana, why being creative in your opinion is only related to typing something in your computer and reading books to look for ideas to write. How about be creative in making your loved one happy, by being his creative live blanket, let's say? LOL.)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Sexuality

Feminism ideology has come to Indonesia since the twentieth century, perhaps around the beginning of 1990s, although talking about giving suffrage to women in the general election, Indonesia has done that since the first general election in 1955 under Soekarno presidency. (For comparison, American women got their suffrage in 1920 after struggling for many decades since the first women summit in 1848. Indonesia got its independence in 1945 and had the first general election in 1955.)

The word “gender” has become quite familiar to Indonesian people, though perhaps only in big cities, and I have proven it that many of my teenaged students don’t know yet what the word “gender” means. When I talked about stereotyping of male and female was not a fair thing to do, I could see they didn’t have any idea why I opined that; why I said, “If you say a woman will not make a good mother because she often leaves her children due to her profession, I can also say that a man will not be a good father when he also often leaves his children due to his job outside.” They still think that public sphere belongs to men and domestic sphere belongs to women; that women are created to be a housewife, so when a woman wants to have a job outside, it is just FAIR to give her double burden, to work outside but still has to be responsible for all household chores. (FYI, The New Order regime under Soeharto successfully planted this “ideology”—about double burden for women who want to work professionally outside their domestic sphere—into Indonesian people’s minds.)

Many Non Governmental Organizations dealing with women’s betterment in lives have done a lot to socialize the unfair stereotyping; that it is all only socially constructed, and not naturally created. (But, still I must say that those feminists have to struggle hard to realize the more equal chances for women in all facets in this life, e.g. chances to choose any profession to their heart’s content according to their skill, talent, and capability, chances to get equal pay for the same job as men, chances to make a name for themselves, and not just as “Mrs. X”, chances to use family name as they want, etc.)

That stereotyping in gender is socially constructed has been known in Indonesia. However, that sexual orientation is also socially constructed is not publicly known yet. Even, there are some steps people do to restrict this; that the only NORMAL sexuality is HETEROSEXUALITY and the other kinds of sexuality (read è homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, and transgender) are ABNORMAL. And as in other parts of the world, RELIGION plays a very important role in constructing that “if you are female, your sexual orientation is male, and vice versa, if you want to be considered NORMAL, NOT SINFUL, NOT DISEASED.” Society negates the existence of people who were born as gay/lesbian/ transgender. Society easily judges such people as opposing “destiny”.

Gayle Rubin, Michel Foucault, and Judith Butler opined that sexuality is in fact also socially constructed, and not biological chromosomal fact. They claimed the theoretical orthodoxy on sexuality whose all principles were based on sexual essentialism; that is principle that consider sexuality is biological phenomenon, natural fact that exceeds social fact. For those three thinkers, sexuality is not something that is consistent, asocial, and trans-historical. Sexuality is strongly involved with history and social changes. It is not based on hormone, psyche, moreover God’s law.

Rubin: Logocentrist and Heteronormativism

Gayle Rubin, a feminist anthropologist, agreed with Derrida that “there is nothing out of the text.” It refers to there is no destiny or biological construction that comes before language signs. For example, male and female categories with all their attributes and stereotypes are not natural created but constitute products of history and representation. Women become the second sex is not based on biological identity, but it is caused by negative image given to them based on science and religion discourses. One meaning never comes alone without any other meaning. For example, the word “male” exists coz of its counterpart—female. Meaning doesn’t come from biology, a writer’s intention, or God’s divine revelation, but as the impact of a complex relation in language signs. Meaning comes as the impact of differance.

That is how body and sexuality come from. There is no pre-discursive body. No identity, gender or sexuality comes before a discourse. Gender and sexuality are not rooted in biology; not the extension of biological sex, but comes from language signs relation. There is no original sexuality; no sexuality precedes meaning process. Everything is constructed under logocentrist procedures. In this procedure, heterosexuality is not based on quality but based on negative label applied to other sexual practice that is non-procreative; such as homosexuality, and masturbation.

In logocentrist, heterosexuality is labeled the good, the right, higher than the other kind of sexuality.
Homosexuality and masturbation are labeled negative, the bad, the wrong, the abnormal and the criminal.
In Thinking About Sex (1984), Rubin stated:

… sexuality that is good, normal, and natural should ideally be heterosexual, marital, monogamous, reproductive, and non-commercial. It should be coupled, relational, within the same generation and occur at home. It should not involve pornography, fetish objects, sex toys of any sort, or roles other than male and female. Any sex that validates this rules is bad, abnormal, or unnatural. Bad sex may be homosexual, unmarried, promiscuous, non-procreative, or commercial. It may be masturbatory or take place at orgies, may be casual, may cross generational lines, and may take place in public, or at least in the bushes or the baths. It may involve the use of pornography, fetish objects or unusual roles.

Foucault: Power-Knowledge-Pleasure and Sexuality

Sexuality is one most-discussed theme in Foucault’s books, such as Herculine Barbine; Being The Recently Discovered Memoirs of a Nineteenth-Century French Hermaphrodite (1979), and his very well-known trilogy of The History of Sexuality, The History of Sexuality I; The Will to Know (1983), The History of Sexuality II; The Use of Pleasure (1985), and The History of Sexuality III; The Care of the Self (1986). In these books, Foucault asserted that femininity, masculinity, and sexuality are the results of “disciplined practice” or the result of power and knowledge relation. Foucault disclosed the univocal heterosexuality regime that has been considered as the norm, the universal and the essence of human beings.

In The History of Sexuality I, Foucault explained that sexuality is not considered as something given naturally, a secret sphere that has to be disclosed and found. Sexuality was formed historically, and not naturally fact.

Foucault stated:

Sexuality must not be thought of as a kind of natural given which power tries to hold in check, or as an obscure domain which knowledge tries gradually to uncover. It is the name that can be given to a historical construct: not a furtive reality that is difficult to grasp, but a great surface network in which the stimulation of bodies, the intensification of pleasures, the incitement to discourse, the formation of special knowledge, the strengthening of controls and resistances, are linked to one another.

In general, Foucault identified five strategic unities to reproduce and multiply sexuality discourses. First, the psychiatrisation of perverse pleasure is an opinion that human beings are to have one only sex (true mono-sexed human being). Via medical science, law and course, everybody is to have only one true sex. As an example, Foucault illustrated what happened bo Herculine Barbine, a hermaphrodite living in the nineteenth century France. When Barbine was born, Barbine was identified as female. However, as some time, some doctors and ministers claimed that Barbine had to change Barbine’s sex to be “male” due to masculine characters Barbine had. Feeling oppressed and depressed, Barbine eventually committed suicide. This case showed how medical field, court and law held a very important role to found mono-sexed human being during Modern Western history. When a human is anatomically male, he must be masculine. When a human is anatomically female, she must be feminine. There is no in-between identity.

Second, the socialization of procreative behavior. Contradictory from Ancient Greek and Roman sexuality discourses, modern western sexuality of nineteenth century was more oriented to procreative goals, not just for pleasure. Foucault called it scientia sexual-is, while Ancient Roman sexuality oriented on pleasure or aphrodisia as ars erotica. The goal of scientia sexual-is is to maximize the strength, efficiency in marriage and sexuality. Therefore, heterosexuality is baptized as the most legal sexuality. Lust or sexual pleasure is caged in heteronormativity. The married couple is also burdened with social and medical responsibility that is to protect family from sexual pathogenic diseases.

Third, the pleasure psychiatrisation. This strategy works by pathologizing all kinds of deviation from “normally procreative sexuality” principles. Therefore, sex for pleasures is cursed. Masturbation and homosexuality that often engender erotic pleasures are considered abnormal, deviant, and need to be medicated. Different from Ancient Greek sexuality, homosexuality and masturbation were not rejected, not labeled abnormal.

Fourth, female body historization. In this strategy, feminine body is analyzed, integrated into medical practice sphere coz the inherent diseases and then placed into “organic communication with social body”. Foucault wrote:

A three fold process whereby the feminine body was analyzed—qualified and disqualified—as being thoroughly saturated with sexuality, whereby it was integrated into the sphere of medical practices, by reason of a pathology intrinsic to it; whereby, finally, it was placed in organic communication with the social body (whose regulated fecundity it was supposed to ensure), the family space (of which it had to be substantial and functional element), and the life of children (which it produced and had to guarantee, by virtue of biologico-moral responsibility lasting through the entire period of children’s education): the Mother, with her negative image of nervous women, constituted the most visible form of this hysterization.

Here, female sexuality is constituted as their central identity, women are their biology, and sexuality is the core of their biology. Sexuality is not only having sex, but also involves masturbation experience, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. This hysterization claims women to be deregulated, made into the legal object psychological and medical intervention and control.

Fifth, child sexuality pedagogy. This strategy considers practice of child sexuality as potentially dangerous coz it will engender “physical and moral ruins, individually and collectively. Masturbation and other non-procreative sexual practices are labeled dangerous and opposing nature. The natural, safe and true sex pedagogy toward children become significant instrument in legalizing heterosexuality as the norm.

These five strategies have functions to regulate and deploy aphrodiasia (lust), and encratia (self control, and self fight). The impact of this transformation is, new oppression of chresis (the use of lust) to epimeleia (attention to oneself), and practices to know oneself.

Judith Butler: Heterosexual matrix versus Performativity

Butler developed the theory of performativity in the beginning of 1990s via her monumental works Gender Trouble and Bodies That Matter. Butler claimed that gender or sexuality is the imitative structure, reiteration and ‘performativity’.

Butler stated:

Imitation is at the heart of the heterosexual project and its gender bynarisms, that drag is not a secondary imitation that presupposes a prior and original gender, but that hegemonic heterosexuality is itself a constant and repeated effort to imitate its own idealization. That it must repeat this imitation, that it sets up pathologizing practices and normalizing sciences in order to produce and consecrate its own claim on originality and propriety, suggest that heterosexual performativity is beset by an anxiety that it can never fully overcome, that its effort to become its own idealization can never be fully achieved, and that it is consistently haunted by that domain of sexual possibility that must be excluded for heterosexualized gender to produce itself.

Butler believed that there is no gender identity behind gender expression. Identity is shaped performatively, reiteratively until it reaches the original identity. For Butler, gender or sexuality is like drag, beauty contest followed by male-to-female transgender to show that they are “perfect women”. Those contestants that have anatomically male bodies have become “women”—slim bodies, smooth skin, spotless complexion, beautiful faces, etc. Realness on gender, identity, and sexuality is produced and reproduced under a series of actions, gestures, and ambition that are articulated and done so that it creates the illusion of an interior and organizing gender core.

Gestures, action and body movement are not only expressive but also constitutive. Therefore we can identify that what we have considered as the essence is in fact only the result of body movement and other discourses.

Butler identified several structural integrity used to eternalize heterosexuality naturally. One of them is “sex materialism”. To explain this concept, Butler deconstructed gender and sexuality definition proposed by feminism. In feminist discourses, it is stated that gender is socially constructed while sex is a biological phenomenon that cannot be changed. This way of thinking assumed sexual materialism, that is an idea that sex is a construct outside history and language. For Butler, sex is also a biology constructed ideally or materialized forcefully through time.

Butler wrote:

Sex is not simple fact or static condition of a body, but a process whereby regulatory norms materialize “sex” and achieve this materialization through a forcible reiteration of those norms. That this reiteration is necessary is a sign that materialization is never quite complete, that body never quite comply with the norms by which their materialization is impelled.

Via deconstruction toward “sex” and demonstrating the discourse limit, Butler proposed concept of the materialization of the body that exceeded Foucault’s concept on the construction of sexuality. Bodies are not just plate that then are shaped into a certain gender and sex, but that gender and sex are two elements materialized to be bodies themselves.

Butler then attacked a must coherence between gender and sexual identity. In the primary discourse, everybody is to have only clear mono-sexed, without friction that needs a must coherence between genitals (the inside) and gender (clothes, roles, and identity—the outside). This coherence has been used as basic to decide the normal and abnormal situation of someone; that penis has no other choice but masculinity, and on the contrary, vagina has no other choice but femininity.

Here, Butler insists that gender and sexuality overlap each other seriously. Gender and sexuality simultaneously interact to decide the content and limit of masculinity and femininity and shape gender relation.

I remember some time ago when proposing this idea (that sexuality is socially constructed; that homosexuality is also given naturally), I got a very strange look from a classmate, and she said, “Aha … you belong to post modern thinkers, eh?” When talking in a classroom some time ago that “It is just okay for boys to wear pink clothes, and that the wearer is not necessarily a gay”, my students complained to me simultaneously. I laughed a little.

Well, I know, it still needs a long time for Indonesian culture to understand this. The conviction that heterosexuality is the only normal sexuality has been planted in Indonesian people’s minds for ages, and they don’t welcome the new thing.

It reminds me of my favorite motto from Emerson, “The foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

Well …I am just a human being who wants everybody to live peacefully in this world, not considered as the criminal, abnormal, the sinful, the diseased, the weird, while in fact they don’t really harm other people’s lives. Nobody has right to interfere other people’s lives by calling them as the wrong, and generously wants other people to follow their way of thinking that they consider the best one only coz it follows the majority.

Anybody has right to live to what they think right for their way of life, as long as they don’t harm or ruin other people’s lives.

Let us live peacefully.

Reference:
Alimi, Yasir, M. “Tidak Hanya Gender, Seks Juga Konstruksi Sosial…” (“Not only Gender, Sex is also socially constructed”) Jurnal Perempuan (Women’s Journal) no. 41, 2005
Butler, Judith, Gender Trouble, London: Routledge, 1999
Butler, Judith, Bodies that Matter, London: Routledge, 1993
Butler, Judith, “Imitation and Gender Insubordination in Fuss”, Diana (ed.) Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories, London: Routledge, 1991
Butler, Judith and Joan W. Scott (eds), Feminists Theorize the Political, New York: Routledge, 1992
Foucault, Michel, Herculine Barbine: Being the Recently Discovered Memoirs of a Nineteenth-Century French Hermaphrodite, Sussex: The Harvester Press, 1980
Foucault, Michel, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, London: Allen Lane, 1997
Foucault, Michel, The History of Sexuality I, Middlesex: Penguin, 1988
Foucault, Michel, The History of Sexuality II, Middlesex: Penguin, 1986
Foucault, Michel, The History of Sexuality III, Middlesex: Penguin, 1986
McHoul, Alec and Wendy Grace, A Foucault Primer: Discourse, Power and the Subject, Melbourne: Melbourne University, 1993
Weedon, Chris, Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory, Monash: Monash University Press, 1998

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Emerson says ...


Some favorite quotes of mine from Ralph Waldo Emerson, an outstanding American thinker in the nineteenth century.

Ø The foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds
Ø To be great is to be misunderstood
Ø To believe your own thought, to believe what is true for you in your private heart, is true for all men, that is genius
Ø Truth is handsomer than the affection of love
Ø You think me a child of my circumstance, I make my circumstance, let any thought or motive of mine be different from that they are, the difference will transform my condition and economy.

What is normal?

Almost two years ago, a friend introduced me to a girl (her initial was A), around 21 years old at that time, who admitted to me that she is a lesbian. She lived in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, located around one hour by plane from my hometown, Semarang. I didn’t get a lot of information though why she BECAME a lesbian. She had a boyfriend at that time, enjoyed her sexual life with him, but once she tried to have sex with the same sex, a girl, she enjoyed it more. That was the only thing she told me.

Some months before that, I had a chat with a twenty-four-year old girl (her initial was R) who said to me that she was also a lesbian. She lived quite far from my hometown, a town called Gorontalo, a much smaller town than Semarang, located in Sulawesi, one big island in Indonesia. She told me that she disliked men coz most men she knew were betrayer, they did violence toward her, and also girls around her that made her sick of men. She said, “Girls are more gentle, loyal, loving, and caring. That’s why I love to be with girls more than with boys.” I told her that I am not a lesbian, but I agreed with her that we, women, can survive without men, live single and be happy.

Now, let’s go back to my twenty-one-year-old friend. When A asked me whether I was also a lesbian, I told her, “I am a heterosexual. Well, until now I am a hetero, dunno later. Everything changes in this world, right? Though I am a hetero, I never think that other people who happen to be a bisexual or a homosexual is abnormal.”

Talking about normal and abnormal, I remembered one day in 2003, in a classroom, when the guest lecturer from New York in my college asked us, “So, how are you today?” A classmate answered, “Everything is normal, sir.” He seemed astonished with that answer. “Normal?” he asked. “Normal from whose perspective?” he continued asking.

His question suddenly made me think how subjective was in fact the word “normal”. From whose perspective? Is there anything that is really from someone or a group of people’s perspective? I also realized how so far people always follow what majority says as a “normal” thing. I started to question that coz as a woman, in that year, I started to get to know feminism, and how I hated to admit that as a woman, someone must be feminine, womanly, motherly, loving, caring, weak, fragile, dependent, bla bla bla, and some other adjectives to follow society’s stereotypes of “good” women, including hetero, if she wants to be considered “normal”. Society forcefully insists women to follow those stereotypes. And in Indonesia, there is one thing to add, a “true” woman is a woman who can be pregnant and has babies. If not? YOU ARE NOT A WOMAN. And this strong influence in society really makes inferior women feel something wrong with them when they “cannot give babies” to their husbands.

After being feminist, I realized how cruel people are that determine what is normal and what is not and then force other people to believe in them.

What is normal?

When a classmate found me reading Michel Foucault’s book entitled The History of Sexuality, he said, “Ah, you are reading Foucault’s book? He is a homo, of course in his book you will find his justification that being a homo is NORMAL.” Is he, then, wrong only coz he doesn’t follow the majority so that he cannot describe himself as someone normal?

Indeed, I agree when people say that we are what we read.

And the majority, who has been indoctrinated for centuries that the only normal sexuality is heterosexual, then has right to judge people who are not hetero as abnormal people? Who gives the majority right to determine that something is normal and abnormal?

Among religious people, they will believe that the only normal is being religious. Those who are non-believer are not normal

Among atheist, they will believe that those religious people are just foolish, meaning, not normal.

Before being a feminist, coz I came from a very strict religious family, I used to think such a thing too; that normal is to be a believer; that normal is to be a hetero, that normal is for women to be feminine, motherly, womanly, submissive, bla bla bla …; that normal is someone must get married to live happy in this life, and many other things that have been indoctrinated to me by my teachers, parents, neighbors, society.

We are what we have been indoctrinated, aren’t we?

And then, where is our common sense? Can’t we use it to think again and again when we see new phenomena?

I love Emerson’s wise saying, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

Where is our empathy, then, when we don’t want to understand people who have different way of thinking from ours? Only coz they don’t seem normal in our eyes; not normal from the way we have been indoctrinated?

I remember one time in 2003 when reading a book Memberi Suara pada yang Bisu (Give voice to those who are dumb) written by Dede Oetomo, the first man in Indonesia who daringly had the word GAY written in his identity card under column “sex”. He wrote about his own struggle to avoid his own natural call as a gay, only coz gay was considered as a disease, abnormal, sin. He really felt inferior with his being “abnormal” when he was teenager. When, at last, he realized that his being gay was also something gifted by God, he gave in. He no longer forced himself to be “normal” by being attracted to women. if he understands that being a hetero is normal for other people (how he couldn’t understand either why his teenaged male friends were more attracted to girls while he himself was more attracted to boys.) Are we empathetic enough to say that Dede doesn’t have right to judge other people as abnormal coz they are attracted to opposite sex only coz we belong to the majority? If that is so, we have become tyrant, don’t we?

Reading Dede’s book, that coincidently happened together when I was gathering information about feminism, and my claiming myself as a feminist, made me open my eyes, that being a gay can be something gifted too, and we must not easily judge people who happen to be gay as abnormal.
(How I also hate to think that people consider me as abnormal only coz I think that women are not always supposed to be feminine, motherly, womanly, weak, hetero, dependent, fragile, submissive, bla bla bla …)

When reading a book entitled Transseksualisme, about a woman who felt trapped in a wrong body coz inside her heart she didn’t think that she is a woman, but a man, and how she also hated to be looked at by people strangely, I realized more that the majority society has done a crime to those people who feel that they were born as gay, as transgender, coz easily judge them as people who don’t want to accept the destiny (that they were born as male or female so that their sexual orientation is supposed to be to their opposite sex, and not to the same sex; that they were born as male or female and why the hell they want to do sexual operation so that they do not feel trapped in a wrong body any longer, etc.)

I am lucky enough to be born having female body and feeling that I am really a woman. I am a straight person (it refers to the fact that until now most people still think that to be straight is the only normal sexuality). I have one daughter (it refers to cruel Indonesian belief that a true woman is a woman who can be pregnant and deliver a baby). However, I’m not that lucky coz of my belief that a woman is an individual too so that I can claim that my body and my mind belong to me (it refers to majority belief that a woman belongs to her husband so that her body and her mind belong to her husband too, let her husband decide what is good or bad for her.) I am not that lucky coz I don’t really believe that marriage is the only ultimate goal to reach happiness (it refers to Indonesian marriage-oriented society where many people believe that happiness only can be reached by marrying someone. How in Indonesia many women sacrifice their lives and happiness to live in a loveless marriage and having an emotional husband who often does violence or probably willing to be the second, third, or nth wife only because they want to be considered normal and happy by getting married.)

Any comment friends? You are mostly welcome.