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Friday, May 19, 2006

Marriage-Oriented Society

I got the following article from The Jakarta Post published on Sunday, August 8, 2004, written by Reno Rahmawati. I keep this article coz it really attacked me to my deep heart how this male-dominated society doesn’t give much space for women to do what they want except to follow the norm.


Being a single woman over 30 may not be the most comfortable thing in a “marriage-oriented” society like here, and as a consequence many are willing to go through hell just to be able to say, “I’m getting married.”

I witnessed one such a senseless example at a friend’s wedding last week. I admit I wasn’t really interested in going, partly because I was afraid I would stand up and shout that the whole thing was idiotic.

The bride is 35 years old with a great career, wonderful family and many friends. But she was willing to jeopardize all that for a married man with two children and no steady job.

She also got herself pregnant to give herself more bargaining power with the man.

I had seen coming, because she was always craving to have somebody she could call her own, hungering for a marriage proposal from her boyfriend of the moment. Even so, I was not quite ready for the news only a week before the wedding ceremony.

Her husband’s first wife did not know about the wedding because they live in separate cities, and secrecy hung over the ceremony, with no invitations sent out and none of his family present.
But my friend seemed very happy, quickly referring to “my husband” without acknowledging that he was shared with someone else.

“I have to do this so he will divorce his wife as soon as possible,” she told her friends to explain her choices. “Besides, I am prepared should he want to spend more time with his first wife and their children.

Despite standing to lose a lot more than him if the plan backfired, my friend refused to have a prenuptial agreement, saying that both of them entered the marriage with good intentions of building a life and facing the odds together.

What is she looking for in marriage? Is it companionship? Is it love? Is it about sharing a life together, or merely a quick way to change her status from “single”, with the inevitable, dreaded tag of old maid, to “married”.

The way I see it, love should give you happiness, not anxiety. It should not make you constantly look over your shoulder in case another woman walks into the house, screaming and accusing you of stealing her husband, which is what probably will happen. The truth will out.

Companionship? Well, she claimed that she would be ready to spend many lonely nights when her husband decided to stay with his first family.

Sharing a life? Yes, they will share a life, but with three others in the equation, with her single paycheck supporting all of them.

I can understand that it is frightening to imagine growing old alone, besieged by incessant questions about boyfriends and marriage.

And it is not easy to face your parents and their belief that a woman must get married before 30, and that she is only “complete” with a husband and kids, in tow.

For me, marriage is the holy matrimony of two people, who believe they are meant for each other and will contribute good not only to each other’s lives, but also to society.

Societal pressure, advancing years and tiring of the dating game should not be the reason to take the solemn vows, because it will only lead to problems, especially for any children involved.

But life is always about tough choices, and my friend had chosen to go down that road just to have the satisfaction of saying to all and sundry: Look, I am a married woman.

Lucky for all you men then; some women, even in this “modern” day and age, are willing to do anything just to call you their own.


jiwakitamerdeka said...

Why should you judge others intention marrying? Be open.

We should be happy because our society is still marriage-oriented.
What will happen if we copy the West blindly... Free mixing will just end up with free sex in the name of FREEDOM.

Look, there you are...a married woman, a loving mother to your only daughter (so far..)
Muslims are brought up that as far is Islam is concerned women and men are equal. So why the need for you to be absolutely a feminist who always think that women are created equal to men, in all facets of life?

Thanks for being strict to men who always think that they are superior to women.

Pipit said...

There are two things to be done:

1. Change the society. Change its perception on women and marriage. Create a sense of pride among women, start with yourself and daugther. Let us be proud of who we are and not whose wife we are.

2. Change the mindset of men, and show to 'desperate' women that there is another way of being. Educate young son to respect woman and stop encouraging them to be a walking penis. Stop telling them, how easy men can get women, as long as they have money and status.

How ironic it is to see that the women in our society enhance their own social degradation. :(

A Feminist Blog said...

Pipit dear, thanks a million for this comment of yours.
I suppose this is the first time for me to get a comment that supports my way of thinking here.
Well, actually I am ready with any comment, including the critical ones--calling me as prostitute, let's say only coz I reject the pornography bill in Indonesia. However, I must say that I am happy to get supportive comment. :D

Pipit said...

Well...I guess we have similar point of view when it comes to women and men relation within our social context.

What can I say, our society is a closed society. It's not always easy to think the way you want to think, especially when it does not conform the 'perceived norm'.

Pornography's law rejection resulted in insult? Why doesn't it surprise me?

So, let's voice ourselves. I am always proud of my thoughts. Besides, there are too many minds need to be opened, too many eyes need to acknowledge differences. Who knows what voice will break the ignorant wall?

A Feminist Blog said...

You are so optimisitc, Pipit! I love it a lot. I am wondering myself why I oftentimes become pessimistic. Need someone like you to be around me, I suppose. :)

jiwakitamerdeka said...

I am proud because our society still respect institution of marriage and family. Legal marriage is a condition before any sexual acts. Without it women are only men's sexual objects. It is a pity that the West is loosing a lot...

A Feminist Blog said...

One thing I don't like with this marriage-oriented society is that it makes many people not confident to live single, so the case in the post happened, a woman who was supposed to feel happy enough to live single with her paycheck for herself, lost her common sense only to be considered "happy" and "normal" in society.
Couuld't you see that this woman hurt the first wife of her husband coz she married him secretly? And this woman also lost her common sense by jeopardizing her life by marrying another woman's husband secretly, not even under the knowing of her own family?
Couldn't you see that this marriage-oriented society just sucks women's lives? (Women who don't feel confident to live single, women who think much of what society says about them, woman who becomes like losing her common sense, only for a "married status"?
I don't mean to compare it to what has happened in the West. Not at all.

Anonymous said...

Have a try yourself...not just being a parrot repeating what other feminists in the west, disrupting peace in your community.
Just try to live on your own..forget about husband and daughter.

A Feminist Blog said...

For 'anonymous'
If you think that I am just parrotting what feminists in the west have said, how do you call yourself? Parrotting what ulema said without proving first whether those hadiths you quoted were really originally said by Muhammad? How could you prove that?

Therry said...


If Indonesia is a marriage-oriented country because it holds marriage as a sacred institution that holds two people who are each other's half and soulmates, then by all means, BE PROUD.

The fact is, marriage is so damn over-rated here. It ruins the real meaning of why the idea of a marriage ever invented in the first place. From what I've seen, only a small percentage of married couples are truly happy - the rest can be seen eating silently in restaurants without exchanging a single word; the mothers being the caretakers of the children, letting their bodies go, and the fat-bellied husband lose interest and finding excitements somewhere elses; husbands ogling other women at the malls while the wives ogle the shop displays; married couple who are seen in public but rarely exchange eye contacts let alone gentle touches that convey their feelings... are THOSE what you call happiness?

From what I've seen, none of those people's faces picture anything that can be put along the lines of 'happiness'.