Some days ago, in one mailing list I joined, there was a message about women’s movement is leading back to “sunnatullah” (read è God’s law). She said that feminists started to realize that their struggle for equality between men and women doesn’t get any advancement; therefore they are tired and start to give up. They start to take things for granted, as “sunnatullah”; that men were created to be leaders and women as followers; that men were created to be the superior, women the submissive; that men dominate public sphere, women domestic., etc.
By mentioning the word SUNNATULLAH or God’s law, she opined that indeed God created men to be the dominant and women the dominated; that is exactly what God wanted to see in this world when God created all this universe with the creatures—human beings, animals, and plants.
Well, honestly speaking, I suspected that this woman joining this mailing list (the name of the mailing list is “perempuan” or women) was not coz she was a feminist, just like me. However, she even wanted to “ruin” from inside.
It reminded me of what I got from my teachers in elementary school. They always used the word SUNNATULLAH to say that women were created to stay home, to do household chores, to serve the husband, to take care of the children, etc. it also reminded me of one scene in The Stepford Wives movie where one husband refused to help his wife to do household chores with a very ridiculous reason, “I have a penis.”
What is SUNNATULLAH? What is God’s law? How sure are we to interpret what God meant when creating all this universe? How sure are we that God created men to be the dominant and women the dominated so that that particular woman used the word SUNNATULLAH as if she interpreted all of this the best, the most right?
When learning about literary theory and coming to hermeneutics as one theory used to interpret literary works, I concluded that people really cannot ignore what they have stored in their minds when interpreting something. Until now, the ones who have interpreted Al-Quran, the Holy Book for Muslim are men. Obviously when interpreting this Holy Book, they also use their gender-biased perspective, saying that women are the weaker sex so that they need protection from men; saying that men are the strong sex so that they can do anything they want; including that public-domestic dichotomy.
I believe when that woman used the word SUNNATULLAH, she also used what she has stored in her mind, things she got from her gender-biased teachers. I am of opinion that NO ONE KNOWS WELL WHAT GOD WANTED THIS WORLD. They are just busy with their own interpretation; selfish men with their gender biased ideas; (not confident) women with those gender-biased ideas planted on their mind and believe them as something gifted from God.
I myself don’t see that women’s movement has lost its spirit to move on. I have seen more and more organizations dealing with women established in Indonesia; more and more feminists have seminars, workshop, conference and those sorts of things to spread feminism ideology, for a more equal community between men and women; more and more books on feminism written, and more and more people buy those kinds of books. I have seen the proof. For example, when a new book on feminism is published, it will be sold out in a shorter time than some years ago; more and more people know about this ideology and accept it (I am included). It means there will be more people struggling for a free gender-biased society.
Referring that patriarchy has dominated this world since time immemorial, of course, we need a very long time to create a more equal community, not just in one decade, two decades, or even a century. It needs a daring and tireless effort from people who are concerned with that.
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