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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Getting Period 2

I got period for the first time at a relatively young age, 11 years old. I had heard about women getting menstruation from some subjects I got at school. (I went to Islamic elementary school, so I got some Islamic subjects, such as fiqh, tauhid, etc.) However, I didn’t know a lot about it, except that women are considered dirty when getting menstruation so that after the menstruation is over, they must take full shower to clean themselves, so that they become clean again and they are ready to do some Islamic teachings; such as praying five times a day, fasting, and reciting Alquran.

When the first time I got it, I got very shocked. One morning when I woke up, and prepared myself to pray Subuh (one pray done by Muslim in the early morning, before the sun rises), my mom came to me and prohibited me to do it. It made me very nervous and worried coz before that, my parents usually did on the way around, they would scold me if I didn’t pray. Why the hell on the way around then? Then my mom told me the reason. “You got what is called as menstruation. You are not supposed to pray.” Still, it didn’t really make me relieved.

Realizing blood suddenly came out of my private area absolutely made me very uncomfortable. Knowing that not many classmates of mine had experienced it (except some who were older than I was), made me more insecure. I was bloody embarrassed if my classmates knew about it. On the same day when I want back from school, the housemaid in my house said to me, “you must watch out now that you already get menstruation.” With a very serious facial expression. She really made me scared with that. Why do I have to watch out myself? What’s wrong with me with this so-called menstruation that made some blood coming out of my body while I didn’t feel anything wrong inside? Wearing sanitary napkin inside my panties of course made my movement uncomfortable.

Later on, I found out why that housemaid said such a thing to me. A girl who has got menstruation can get pregnant if she happens to get laid, and to get pregnant out of wedlock is something very embarrassing in Indonesia. And since that housemaid was not an educated person, she couldn’t explain it to me logically but scared me. And my mom didn’t know how worried and nervous I was at that time.

To avoid similar uncomfortable things happened to Angie, I talked a lot about this: menstruation is something that will always happen to women, it happens naturally, no need to be panicky, just accept it naturally too of course, coz there is nothing wrong actually, just monthly cycle inside women’s bodies.

My complaint is: when it is something natural, and there is oftentimes possibility for women to suffer from stomachache when they get menstruation, why many people make some unwise policy related to jobs especially where the policy just make women more marginalized?

e.g.: women are not supposed to be a leader coz they get period every month. The reason is: how if something very urgent happens and the leader needs to do something to handle it while at that time the female leader get stomachache due to menstruation.

Guys, we don’t choose to be born as creatures to get period and consequently we get stomachache sometimes. Why should you punish us with that so-called policy?

PT56 23.40 300806

Getting Period

Have you ever heard that when women want to take some days off from the workplace coz of getting period, women must show the ‘proof’?

One local newspaper stated that a factory in one district located in West Java Indonesia issued a regulation that to get some days off due to period, female workers must show the proof that they really get their monthly menstruation. It is all related to the effort to improve the productivity target.

A female worker must meet the Personnel Manager and the Production Manager that both happen to be males, and one security guard that happens to be female. The female worker must enter one special room provided with some cotton to take the blood sample. Isn’t it insane? Women are not considered as human beings, they are just like things.

Unluckily, those female workers don’t have power to protest coz they are afraid to be laid off.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Drop the stupid act girls

Drop the stupid act girls

Naomi Kazzi laments the proliferation of American pop culture raunch, infiltrating televisions and magazines all over Australia.

We are currently living in a world where we are trapped and suffocated by American pop culture. We live in a place where Australians can easily recall the first American president but suddenly experience a moment of amnesia when asked to name the first Australian Prime Minister; it is a place where Coca Cola signs are permanently situated on our city streets, where American franchises are so familiar we forget they¹re foreign. Our television sets can¹t resist the American air and our movie screens are absolutely obsessed with Hollywood blockbusters. Our music charts are no different; they too can only handle a limited quantity of Australian songs at any one time. So it is no surprise that American musical phenomenon Pink¹s latest hit song titled Stupid Girls is just as relevant to Australia¹s young female generation as it is to the same American demographic.

Released internationally in March, Stupid Girls is the first track from Pink¹s new Album, I'm Not Dead. The song describes a new wave of young shallow female celebrities who have a strong constant presence in the media and an enormous fellowship of highly mpressionable ¹tweenage¹ girls.

But Stupid Girls itself is nowhere near as controversial as its video clip. Directed by Dave Meyers, it comments on the ridiculous antics of Œartists¹ such as Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, the Olsen Twins and Britney Spears. Although their names are never mentioned in the lyrics, Pink aims to satirise the image of these celebrities by dressing like them and re-enacting real events in their lives. The re-enactments include Lindsay Lohan¹s infamous car accidents, Paris Hiltons¹ sex tapes, Jessica Simpsons¹raunchy music video and the Olsen twin¹s obsessive shopping sprees. The song¹s message doesn¹t end there, Pink also questions the suitability of these role models for today¹s youth, as she asks :²Where have all the smart people gone?Š What happened to the idea of a girl president, instead she¹s dancing in a video next to 50 cent².

The questions regarding female representations in the media are not exclusive to Pink. For years many social commentators have asked similar questions about the media and Hollywood¹s portrayal of the Œideal¹ female who is an object of sexual desire, attractive and extremely thin. Many researchers have also focused on the effects of this on younger
Generations of females.

The ŒStupid Girl¹ era is currently at its peak. With mainstream role models such as Jessica Simpson, who can¹t tell the difference between fish and chicken and Paris Hilton, who is famous for being famous, it¹s no surprise that a recent British survey of 15 to 19 year old females published in The Sunday Times, revealed that 63% would rather be a topless model than a doctor or a nurse. A quarter thought lap dancing was a good profession, but only 3% aspired to be teachers.

High rating television shows such as The OC also attribute to instilling messages on the subject of females being slim, gorgeous, wearing the latest designer fashion and acting really stupid because it¹s viewed as Œcute¹.This message has been heard by enough Australian¹s that Supre fashion stores nation-wide have succeeded in selling a clothes line based on the popular American series.

Today¹s younger generation of females seems to believe that intelligence is Œuncool¹, while stupid is Œsexy¹. The primary misconception appears to be that self-worth and acceptance can be achieved through owning material possessions and succumbing to the media¹s image of what is said to be a Œbeautiful¹ or Œhot¹ female. This is both unhealthy and unrealistic, and the ramifications of following this ŒStupid Girl¹ movement can only lead to further confusion about identity.

This recent crisis has been explored by a research paper published in an issue of the Australasian Marketing Journal, the paper found that Australian magazines targeted at young females, such as Dolly, Girlfriend and Barbie Magazine all reinforce prevailing stereotypes of females and support unrealistic body types. It was also noted that advertisers still have some way to go in terms of deconstructing stereotypes of women. One of the main questions this study raises is how consistent use of these stereotypes Will affect the self-esteem, confidence, body image and self-identity of young females in the future.

Social commentators, researchers, academics and even concerned parents have warned about the severity of the implications of this current Œstupid Girl¹epidemic, all their precautions have been ignored especially by those who should listen: young females. Perhaps this battle can only be fought in the realm of pop culture; fighting fire with fire may be the only solution. Regardless of whether Pink is a good role model or not, her latest song Stupid Girls is refreshing, it is a great start at reexamining the restrictive image of what a young female should be. Right now Œstupid¹ is boring, in the words of Pink ³Outcasts and girls with ambition that¹s what I wanna see!²

Thursday, August 24, 2006

True love, anyone?

Do you believe in true love?

Several days ago, Siti Nurhaliza, one diva from Malaysia who is also popular in Indonesia got married. (I also wrote about her some months ago, in one post of mine here.) I never really feel interested in knowing anything that happens to celebrities. However, since my workmates talked about this for some days, it made me want to write something on it. (what the hell made my workmates gossiped such a trivial thing?)

Many people seem to feel sorry why Siti married a divorced man with some children. In Indonesian culture, people tend to think that a single girl marries a single boy (meaning both of them haven’t got married yet.); divorced women marry divorced men. What a shame if a single girl/boy marries someone who is divorced or whose ex spouse has passed away. A single girl/boy is supposed to be considered as still ‘virgin’; and there is a consensus in Indonesian culture (perhaps I can call it as overt culture here) that a virgin marries a virgin. People will talk about it ‘hotly’ if the consensus is broken. More hotly again if a divorced woman or widow marries a single boy (meaning a boy/man who isn’t married yet) It is more acceptable when a divorced man or widower marries a single girl.
Similar as a case where a woman marries a younger man. The couple are also considered as breaking the consensus so that they deserve to be gossiped. LOL. (The consensus says that a man marries a younger woman! LOL.)

Going back about Siti Nurhaliza’s marriage. My workmates said, “What is Siti Nurhaliza looking for by marrying a divorced man? She will not get a ‘virgin’, LOL. Money? As a popular diva, she must have lots of money. Moreover, the man is much older than Siti. (The best different age gap is around 3-5 years old here.)

Another workmate tried suggesting an answer, “But her husband is very very wealthy!”

And the crowd commented, “Oh, in fact that adorable Siti Nurhaliza is just a materialistic girl!”

In the middle of noisy ‘gossiping’ in the teachers’ room, I kept quiet; not interested to involve myself. But, then, I said to a good workmate of mine, “Aha … I will write this topic for my blog!” LOL. LOL.

For Siti Nurhaliza (I am not her fan though, LOL) or for her fans who happen to read this post, I wish her all the best for her future life—her career and her personal life.

And as romantic person, I assume that true love will not consider whether someone is rich or poor, younger or older, "virgin" or "not virgin", bla bla bla ... LOL. Or as many people are cynical, true love is only consumed by foolish people??? LOL

LL 14.45 240806

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


watched this movie-CRASH-yesterday. It tells us about poignant racial discrimination in America. It made me a bit scared. :(

Since I was born, I have lived in Indonesia. Fortunately I have indigenous parents (gosh, what is indigenous???) so that I look like many other majority people in Indonesia, having almond-shaped eyes, black hair, dark complexion (I have been getting darker since I loved swimming in 2000), and a Muslim. Never in my life had I experienced racial discrimination coz I belong to the main stream of the majority Indonesian.

Indigenous ...

It reminds me of my time when I was doing a small research to make a paper in the "African American Literature" class in 2003. I got task to analyze poems written by Langston Hughes. I chose three poems of his. Unfortunately I forgot the titles but one poem--Will V-Day be Me Day too? in one of his writing, Hughes protested why he was still treated discriminatively rather than other people (such as those who had ancestors from Denmark or Italy) while in fact he was the fifth generation of his ancestors living in America while those whose ancestors from Denmark and Italy were only the second or third generation. Only coz Hughes had black skin? And those Danish and Italian had similar complexion as the main stream--let's say having English ancestors?

One topic in one book in the English course where I teach is about OUR ANCESTORS. I have tried to make my students "see" that the ancestors of Indonesian people come from some or many places in the world, so that they are not so discriminative toward other ethnic groups in Indonesia. However, oftentimes my students (most of them are high school and college students) look at me weirdly. They easily just see those who have fair complexion with oriental eyes and straight hair as not indigenous. It somewhat gives them "justification" to be a bit discriminative toward them (though I believe it is not as terrible as what is illustrated in CRASH).

It made me wonder if I were born as black people living in America ...
If I were born as Chinese in Indonesia ...
If I were born in a non-Muslim family in Indonesia ...
P.S.: This article is a tribute for my only Abang ...

Feminine vs Feminist

Before resuming my study to American Studies Graduate Program at UGM in 2002, I was a ‘conventional’ woman who followed the stereotyping of men and women. Much before 2001 (the year when that Californian left me, when I started to create a new identity for myself as Ms. Black—wearing black most of my time when going to my workplace), I loved to wear different kind of colors for skirt/trousers, and I would carry the handbag and wear high-heeled shoes with similar colors. I believed that women had to be feminine to attract the opposite sex. LOL. As if I wouldn’t be able to attract men without being feminine; as if I wouldn’t be able to survive without getting attraction from men. LOL. (oh poor me!!! LOL.)

In the beginning of the first semester of American Studies, I still sometimes wore my high-heeled shoes when going to campus. It easily made me tired coz I usually went to campus or the library on foot! Therefore, not long after that, I put my high-heeled shoes in their box peacefully, LOL, and changed to wear sneakers together with jeans and T-shirt.

In the third semester, I started to teach again in my workplace coz not enough teachers. It made me busy commute from Yogya to Semarang (around 120 kms away, about three hours by bus) every week. With ‘being student’ mood on my mind, of course, I felt very lazy to wear my high-heeled shoes. I oftentimes came to class by wearing jeans and a polo shirt too. Moreover, I was still a new feminist, by reading Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique. Just like feminists in 1960s America, I didn’t want to make myself look feminine. LOL.

Time passed by.

I read more books about feminism and gender. My favorite is Jurnal Perempuan (Women’s Journal). Its online website is on The articles there really support women to be like what they want; women are free to do anything, to be anything, free from any intimidation from society, moreover from a selfish husband who probably would say, “I love you sweetie, stay at home please for me.” or “I love you my darling one. I want to ease your burden by having another wife.” LOL. Or “I do care about you dearest. Please cover all part of your body coz it is all mine.” LOL.

At the time of my coming back to my workplace fully (after I finished my Master’s Degree), I still loved wearing sneakers to go to the office behind my long black dress and blazer. I didn’t give a damn to people looked at me strangely. LOL. Even, sometimes some students laughed when seeing my sneakers under my long dress. LOL. (FYI, I wear dress not coz I want to look feminine, but I really feel comfortable wearing it.)

Recently I oftentimes wear my black high-heeled boots together with my long black dress and black blazer. I find it comfortable too. I enjoy the feeling of being feminine though I am not really a feminine person. LOL. (Ups… what is feminine anyway? LOL.) And I am still a feminist.

PT56 23.14 170806


“You’re a feminist, but you are married. How come?”

Aquarini started her article entitled “(Hetero)sexuality redefined” with the above question.

Some days ago I just bought a book entitled FEMINIST THOUGHT: A MORE COMPREHENSIVE INTRODUCTION by Rosemarie Putnam Tong. I bought the Indonesian version coz I cannot find the English one in Indonesia. In the book, I can find the background, and the development, besides the principles of some feminisms; Liberal Feminism, Radical Feminism, Marxist and Socialist Feminism, Psychoanalytical and Gender Feminism, Existentialist Feminism, Postmodern Feminism, Multicultural and Global Feminism, and Ecofeminism.

Feminism is not just about one definition. Feminism is not just “I am a feminist so I will not get married.” It is not as simple as that.

It is right that in 1960s, American feminists interpreted feminism as ‘being like men’, so that many feminists at that time got dressed like men, walked like men too, besides their way of thinking to be the breadwinner outside house. They didn’t like—and a bit despised—women who decided to be homemakers. They just represented the white middle-class women. They didn’t represent any other group of women, such as colored women and low class women. Gradually, women all over the world were awaken to follow their predecessors and started to define what feminism was for them. It is understandable then if they came to the different definition from those white middle class American women.

Many radical feminists chose to live single or be lesbians coz in their eyes, men are just creators of violence in this life. However, many other feminists get married. There is no problem with that.

The main idea of feminism, to me, is equality for women in all aspects. Women have full right to decide what they want to do in their life without depending on anybody else, moreover on men to make decision for them. Women can choose to be astronauts, scientists, or even feminist homemakers to shape feminist children. Women can choose to be lesbian, or to live single and happy with that, or marry men they love. Women can become feminine by wearing dress, high-heeled shoes, makeup, carrying a cute handbag or choose to wear trousers, sneakers, no makeup at all, carrying backpack. Women can choose to be motherly but they can also choose not to be like that.

Women are not supposed to be forced to be like this or like that; or to do this and that only because they were born as women, as having female bodies.

PT56 22.21 170806

Learning Arabic

Some days ago, a member of mailing list I join #Sastra-Pembebasan# issued a topic about “Angels Speak Arabic”. I found it very childish and naïve. LOL.

I remember when I was a kid, my teachers at elementary school told us that there were five questions we all have to answer correctly after we die so that we will not get punishment during our ‘stay in the graveyard’ while waiting for the Judgment Day. (Does it sound logical to you? LOL.) Those five questions are: “Who is your God?” “Who is your prophet?” “What is your religion” “What is your holy book?” and I am sorry I forget the last one. LOL. (Perhaps one reader of my blog can tell me? LOL.)

One critical friend then said, “So, we don’t need to pray five times a day, no need to fast during Ramadhan month, no need to pay zakat (somewhat like ‘tax’ we have to give to other people), no need to do good to others. The most important thing is we remember those five questions and the answer in Arabic.” LOL. (FYI, I was not so critical and spoke up when I was a little. Poor me, eh? LOL.)

Recently after I become secular, after trying to be logical and use my common sense in viewing things, I found that teaching I got when I was a little very ridiculous. Isn’t it better to be good people who don’t do harm to other people rather than to be so-called religious people but kill other people? Killing like dogs eat other dogs? Coz we feel like chosen people?

I don’t find learning Arabic harmful. (I used to learn it when I was in elementary school. Though of course I forget much vocabulary coz I never use it in my daily life.) Learning other languages will always be beneficial for us coz we can learn more knowledge by mastering other languages. However if the reason is so that we will be able to answer the questions asked by the angel later after we die, of course I cannot control my laughter. LOL. LOL. LOL.

PT56 13.13 190806

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Islamic Organizations in Indonesia

In Indonesia there have been two big Islamic social organizations; they are Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul ‘Ulama (NU). I have never learned the history of the appearance of these two organizations so that I don’t really know how they were established. (I loved the history lesson when I was at school; however, I didn’t particularly learn about these two Islamic organizations.)

My parents are the followers of Muhammadiyah. Both of them graduated from Muhammadiyah high school. My late father used to be a teacher at one Muhammadiyah high school too when he was young.

However, when I was at elementary school, my parents sent my siblings and me to an Islamic school where most of the teachings followed Muhammadiyah. Well, there are some principle difference between the Islamic teachings of Muhammadiyah and NU. The reason was that was the nearest school to our dwelling place. After graduating from elementary school, my big brother continued to one Muhammadiyah junior high school. One year later, my parents asked me to choose, to continue to the same junior high school as my brother, or to continue to the same elementary school I attended. As a rebel, LOL, I didn’t want to continue to Muhammadiyah junior high school. (I just wanted to be different from my own folk. LOL.) I chose to continue to the same elementary school where I just graduated. However, when a friend offered me to register at one favorite state junior high school, I continued my study there.

Some years later, one pen pal of mine told me that she joined Ahmadiyah, and she said, “You must not like me Nan, coz I join this forbidden Islamic organization.” In fact I myself didn’t know what Ahmadiyah was all about.

Since then on, I have started to read some articles in the newspapers how the government always tries to oppress anybody who is trying to establish a new Islamic organization out of the two big ones—Muhammadiyah and NU. Simply the government considers the others as deviant, the followers are lost people; therefore they are sinful, and will just go to hell. In Indonesia, the government is very powerful to issue ‘fatwa’ (such as religious instructions): to say something is sinful or not; and the people will easily believe in it.

Worse than that, recently the leaders of those new little Islamic organizations have been arrested and put in jail. They are accused as spreading teachings that will mislead society. Apparently, the government considers society as immature and not enough knowledge so that they are not able to decide for their own lives. Therefore the government needs to interfere its people’s personal lives.

It reminds me of what happened in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries of England where the government didn’t give society freedom in choosing what religion to adhere. Those Puritan people then migrated to the new-found-land—America. Ironically, then, those Puritan people also did the same thing to other migrants to America who didn’t adhere the same faith as them.

Coming back to Muhammadiyah and NU as the two big Islamic organizations in Indonesia, do their leaders also feel worried that they will lose some members with the emergence of the little new Islamic organizations? Why don’t they just give society freedom to choose what is best for them? Let society decide. If one new Islamic organization really only gives misleading teachings, I believe it will diminish soon coz no one will adhere it.

PT56 20.45 130806

Angie's childhood

Reading the review of The Price of Privilege (Harper Collins) by Madeline Levine PhD at Phillip’s blog ( reminds me of my own experience when Angie was little.

Angie could read when she was three years old coz I started to introduce her to books when she was around one year old. She loved seeing the funny and colorful pictures in her books and started to pay attention to the letters under each picture. She could recognize different colors (red, blue, green, yellow, pink, gray, white, orange, brown) at the age when her friends only recognize only two or three colors maximally. This made the teacher in her playgroup recognize Angie as a smarter kid than her friends. I saw it too and felt proud coz of that.

When she was at kindergarten, she already could recite Alquran well while her classmates still learned how to spell the Arabic letters. By the end of the first year in her kindergarten, she performed many kinds of things on the stage, around six times (reciting Alquran, marching band, reading a poem, and performed three different dances). I was busy help her change her costume anytime she was about to perform. And again, I felt very proud coz of that.

Without my awareness, it made me more ambitious to see Angie excel at everything. When she started the first grade of elementary school, she joined some extra activities after school: English course, dancing, modeling, drawing, swimming, and playing keyboard. After some months, she started to join competition—dancing, English, modeling, drawing, and swimming. This made both of us busy every Sunday to join the competition here and there. She won some of those competitions. I saw her very proud with her trophies. And of course, I was also very proud.

Not long after that, she started to feel bored with her hectic activities everyday. She started to refuse to practice dancing, etc. I started to push her. I didn’t want to lose my dream to see my daughter as a star in all aspects.

Fortunately, my bigger love to her, rather than to myself—to be a selfish mother who wants to see the kid become the commodity of the mother’s egotism—could stop me.

I gave her the full right to choose what to do—to enjoy her childhood by being an ordinary kid (without any pressure to excel in anything), or to join any competition when she wanted to do that, especially when she missed to feel to be the center of attention when she was on the stage.

Angie is a very common girl now among her school friends. Sometimes both of us love to spend time to look at the pictures when she joined many competitions as one unforgettable experience. In fact, Angie loved to remember the time when she was the star of a stage. LOL. Her busy schedule at school of course doesn’t give her much time to do like what she used to do when she was at elementary school. And as a mother, I really give her full right to choose what to do including what extra curricular activities to take at school. And I will always support her choice and be there when she needs me.

The five tips Dr Levine gives

Appreciate your children as they are. Don't waste time trying to create the perfect child you wish you had

Don't damage their self-esteem by criticizing their efforts too often. Don't reject them - that feeds self-hatred

Basic warmth between a parent and child - hugs, kisses, listening, words of empathy - is the first pillar of parenting

Discipline is vital. Be consistent; that helps kids develop self-control

Spend time together. Eat your evening meal together as often as possible, and involve your children in as many rituals as possible, such as worship or sport

In a way, it is similar to one proverb in Javanese “Tut Wuri Handayani”: as the parent, we just support our children from behind, and be there when they need our help: and not decide what their future will be like based on our own interest.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Selfish parents, unhappy children

from a friend's post at

Parental pressure to succeed has created a lost generation, warns a controversial new book that is taking the US by storm

Denis Campbell, social affairs correspondent
The Observer


Well-off, smartly dressed and displaying an impressive array of talents in and out of school, they seem to have perfect lives and be destined for exciting futures doing important things. Yet a growing number of children from wealthy backgrounds are suffering stress, not because of their friends or worrying about whether they will get a boyfriend or girlfriend, but because of their over-ambitious parents.

A controversial new book - which has sparked a massive debate in America about the relationship between money and parenting - has blamed high-earning, high-achieving mothers and fathers for inadvertently causing their children's problems by pushing them so hard to succeed that they feel like failures. Parents interfere in their children's lives so much that they can't look after themselves. They give them every gadget and luxury imaginable but far too little time, love and affection.

In The Price of Privilege: How parental pressure and material advantage are creating a generation of disconnected and unhappy kids, American clinical psychologist Dr Madeline Levine accuses middle-class parents who earn at least £63,000 a year of failing to prepare their offspring properly for the adult world because they are so obsessed with ensuring their sons and daughters excel at everything they do. While superficially well-developed, their children are actually sad, lonely, confused and lack self-confidence because they haven't fulfilled parental expectations, Levine says.

'Why are kids who have everything doing so poorly?' asks Levine. 'We know that this group of kids has three times the rate of depression and anxiety disorders as ordinary teenagers, as well as substantially higher rates of substance abuse, cutting and suicide. The most dangerous feelings a child can have are of self-hatred, yet middle-class parents are unwittingly instilling those feelings by expecting so much.'

According to Levine, parents should take care not to pressurise their children to try to be outstanding at everything and accept that they will be only good or average at certain school subjects or extra-curricular pursuits, allow them enough time on their own to find out more about who they are and, crucially, always to be on hand to talk to their children about their day, their thoughts and how they are feeling.

Levine criticises over-intrusive 'helicopter parents', so-called because they constantly hover over every aspect of their children's lives, for example going into their school to challenge a teacher about a mark their child has received. Although they are trying to help, they are actually damaging their offspring's development because, she says, leaving children alone, and learning how to handle difficult situations, helps them acquire independence, coping skills, a sense of right and wrong, and a sense of who they are.

Similar trends are apparent in Britain, say clinical psychologists. 'Parents constantly striving for their kids to be successful, for example by arranging for them to do something like judo or horseriding every day after school - what I call over-scheduling - is pretty common, and more and more common, among better-off families', says Dr Rachel Andrew, a child and family psychologist in Burnley, Lancashire. 'I've been surprised by the number of kids aged 12 upwards, who have very successful parents, with difficulties ranging from depression and eating disorders to exclusion from school.'

The parents of such young people are doctors, dentists, solicitors, barristers and self-made business people. 'In very successful families you have very driven parents who can lose sight of their children's emotional needs because they are too busy being successful, making money and focusing on their own career. We are starting to see signs of the impact of all this in the diminished community spirit, [the] sense that each person is out for themselves and growing isolation of young people.' Worryingly, Andrew says that the age at which highly competitive parents start pressurising their children to succeed has fallen to as young as five or six. Like Levine, she laments that for some parents, their child being merely good at something is no longer enough. 'A growing number of parents seem to have forgotten that their children are individuals, and instead are trying to churn out career-driven robots.'

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, made headlines in May when he warned about children being made miserable because of the 'loving neglect' of their cash-rich, time-poor parents. 'What Dr Levine is saying strikes a chord with me, and will resonate with parents here', he says. 'Some parents have got the balance wrong between getting their child into what's deemed to be a good school and them getting qualifications, and their overall quality of life.'

Dr Levine's top tips

· Appreciate your children as they are. Don't waste time trying to create the perfect child you wish you had

· Don't damage their self-esteem by criticising their efforts too often. Don't reject them - that feeds self-hatred

· Basic warmth between a parent and child - hugs, kisses, listening, words of empathy - is the first pillar of parenting

· Discipline is vital. Be consistent; that helps kids develop self-control

· Spend time together. Eat your evening meal together as often as possible, and involve your children in as many rituals as possible, such as worship or sport

'Cricket, football, then maths tuition ...'

Debbie Garrett, 41, is a mother of four children in Corbridge, Northumberland

She says: 'My husband Chris and I think our children strike a good balance between school, extra-curricular stuff, being with their friends and having downtime. Our oldest boy, Jack, who's 12, does cricket, football, guitar lessons, basketball and extra maths tuition . Rosie, who's nine, has choir followed by Brownies on a Monday, swimming every Friday, trampolining on Sunday mornings and kumon maths class with Jack every Tuesday after her netball.

'The upside is that they are enjoying themselves and getting specialist input. And I'd rather they were being active and sociable rather than at home playing on the computer. But there are downsides, like not having a family meal as often as I'd like, and feeling like their permanent taxi service.

'In some families we know, the kids do something after school virtually every day of the week, especially children at fee-paying schools, where there's a greater range of activities. Some expect their parents to organise and structure their every waking moment, and are always asking, "What am I doing tomorrow?".

'There's definitely a social premium put on your kids doing extra stuff. You do compare what you are doing with neighbours and friends. If Jack and Rosie weren't doing "enough" extra-curricular things I'd feel I wasn't a good enough mum.'

from The Price of Privilege (Harper Collins) by Madeline Levine PhD


Infotainment is halal or haram?”

These recent years, televisions programs in Indonesia have been full of infotainment. Mostly, though, the infotainment programs are full of gossips. The hotter the gossip is, the more commercials it attracts, the more profit the producers/the television stations will get. No wonder if then the infotainment oftentimes don’t tell the viewers the real life of celebrities, more on the gossip. “People say …” without doing more investigation on one case, for example.

As someone who doesn’t enjoy watching television, of course, I hardly watch it. I it happens, not coz I am looking for some entertainment by watching TV. Sometimes it happens when I am in my workplace and the television is on in the teachers’ room and I happen to be there, among my workmates. And I really don’t like this program. However, seeing that there are more and more infotainment programs on television, I can draw a conclusion that this program is really well-liked.

Who are their regular viewers? Perhaps housewives who don’t have many other things to do after doing some household chores, and who don’t really like reading.

People who love gossiping.

People who feel that their life is full of problems, and suffer from their long-lasting problems probably also like to watch this program so that they love to know that those celebrities also have problems in their life (Gosh, who doesn’t have problems in this life, anyway?) Maybe they think that those celebrities have a perfect life—fame, riches, beauty, etc. When they know that those celebrities also have problems, they feel like “that makes the two of them.”

People who are nosy, always curious what is going on with other people’s lives, moreover their favorite celebs.

People who don’t know what to do to spend their spare time.
Couch potatoes
Etc (no more ideas LOL)

I am of opinion that people who are critical will not like such a gossip program. When people are critical, I assume people will realize that they have no benefit to watch such programs. When many people think this way, not many people will love watching such a program so that the producers will bankrupt, and they have to think of making another program that needs more intelligence.

Unfortunately, I must say that the number of people with critical way of thinking is not much in Indonesia. Therefore, more and more television stations have similar programs.

And in Indonesia, where many people worship religious teachings and condemn secularity (they consider secularity is similar to devilish followers, I suppose) will not stop watching such programs that don’t educate them at all (coz they don’t use critical way of thinking!!!) unless the religious bodies issue regulation that watching such program is HARAM (HARAM means if people do that will be sinful, if people leave it, they will be rewarded by God.)

As a secular that used to be a religious person, I found it ridiculous though. Who the hell the members of those religious bodies so that they think that they have full rights to say that something is HALAL (HALAL means ok to do) or HARAM, as if they really know what God says to every problem in this world.

However, I realize that the majority of Indonesian people really listen to what those religious bodies say. And? To decide whether infotainment is a good program or not, people need to make use of religion’s name.

Very ridiculous. LOL.

(Well, this is Indonesia, Nana! Your beloved country! LOL.)
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Many years ago, Angie’s dad had a friend who changed from being a secular into a religious and saying that he already got ‘enlightenment’. In this case, he was 180 degrees contradictory to me coz I would say exactly on the way around. LOL. From the ‘enlightenment’ he got, he found out that women are domestic creatures while men are public ones. Therefore, he never let his wife go out of the house without him accompanying her coz it was a big sin.

One day I went to his house coz I needed to have Angie’s school uniform made. FYI, he was a tailor. After Angie and I arrived there, he directly asked me to enter the dining room coz the living room was for men. He “preached” to Angie’s dad at that time, “Nana is from a very religious family so that it is easy for her to accept such a rule (read women are domestic and men are public so that they are not supposed to be in the same room). It is different from my wife, it is quite difficult to ‘educate’ her about this religious teachings.”

What a hell … LOL.
And of course, he is ABSOLUTELY WRONG.

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Polygamy Again :(

Some days ago I read a short article about one celebrity in Indonesia. She said that she already got ‘enlightenment’ about practicing polygamy; that it is only for women’s good. She used to be a quite popular singer in 1980s- the early 1990s. After she got married and started wearing hijab, she no longer earned her living by singing. Well, perhaps she also felt that she got ‘enlightenment’ that for women, voice was not supposed to be sold; women’s voice was not supposed for public, coz perhaps it can turn on the opposite sex?

And in Indonesia, as far as I know, the more religious someone is, the more receptive he/she is for any teaching. And in Indonesia, “good” women are related to religious women. Women so much covet to be considered as “good” women (it means religious!) that they are willing to sacrifice their own feeling, by accepting any religious teachings without using their common sense, without being critical.

Going back to the celebrity I mentioned in the beginning of this writing, she even has prepared her two daughters to believe in the “goodness” of polygamy so that they will not disobey it in the future. Unfortunately, the journalist didn’t mention completely the reason why she campaigned on polygamy. One reason: according to the statistics there are more women than men in the world. However, that celebrity forgot to check the age bracket. Since women have tendency to have longer life than men, there are more elderly women rather than elderly men. And of course, it will make the statistics show that there are more women than men. Well, I don’t mean to say that elderly women don’t have right to get married though. However, following the stereotyping, elderly women seldom think of getting married (again). Or am I just a wise-guy?

Anyway, I know this polygamy thing will always have many followers as well as many haters.

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Female judges to hear rape cases in India

Female Judges To hear Rape Cases as India Admits Failure of Legal Systems

I got the above title a friend's post in his blog at
Well, it is a very good and very women-friendly. I am wondering if this will also be applied in Indonesia.
Rape cases in Indonesia, I assume, don't happen as often as in India, where every 29 minutes one woman is raped. My raw interpretation is that India has more population than Indonesia, it means that there are more women too there. More woman means that rape cases likely to happen more often than fewer women.
However, I must say that until now many rape victims in Indonesia don't get help as they need. Women mostly will be considered as the wrong side as the temptress so that the rape happens to them. Some reasons behind it are for example, from what the women wear, from their behavior, attitude, etc. Not many people think that it is cause by the men who cannot control their lust, men who think that women are just sexual objects so that they deserve to do anything they want to do with women.

Many rape cases oftentimes are just secretly kept by the victims or their family coz they don't want to be humiliated more terrible. Some reasons behind this are:
1. Losing virginity (for women who are still single) is still considered a curse. By reporting this case to the police, it means that they openly declare that they are no longer virgin. A disgrace.
2. They are worried if they are considered as temptress so that they will feel more embarrassed.
3. They must face their rapist in the court, something very difficult for them. Moreover when they have to remember again the details of the accident to happen.

There have been many non-governmental organizations for women in Indonesia. Of course, they do make betterment in women's lives; such as giving protection for the rape victims, sometimes give them counselling to cure the mental; sometimes also become the lawyer to help the victims.

Hope life will really be more friendly for women.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Si Parasit Lajang

SI PARASIT LAJANG by Ayu Utami, a feminist writer of Indonesia is one of my favorite books. I bought it in one book fair held in Yogyakarta on October 12, 2003. FYI, I always write the date and the place where I buy my books on the last page so that it is easy for me to check it next time. :) So, it is not coz I have a very great memory. LOL. How can I remember the time and the place where I buy all my books that until now comprise more than 700 titles? LOL.

I was still shaping myself to be a feminist at that time, after I bought a book entitled STUDI ALQURAN KONTEMPORER some months before that. This is the first book that opened my mind that there will always be new things in anything, including in interpreting Alquran, moreover in any other thing. When something is socially constructed, there will always be changes in re-viewing it. Naïve Nana was still very naïve at that time, and oftentimes saw social constructions as something created, as a “destiny”. A new Nana was born in 2003. LOL. “Do you feel happier with the new you?” a workmate asked me such a question some time ago. “Everything has risk and responsibility in this life. In one side, probably I am happier with the new me. However, in another side, I also easily become hurt when seeing the unfairness done to women, something that probably didn’t bother me in the past; such as a woman will always be the second in the family after the husband, sometimes even the third after the husband and the children. Aquarini illustrated in her book KAJIAN BUDAYA FEMINIS, “an ordinary woman is a woman who is willing to lose her old self, who always gives the first priority to the husband first, the children second, and herself the last, if she still has time to take care of herself.”

Many provoking ideas I got when reading Ayu Utami’s book. Therefore, I often promote the book to my workmates and friends. LOL. I also bought the book to two male friends of mine to show my gratitude to them. Well, two reasons behind it: I wanted to thank them for spending their special time for me, and making me very special. LOL. The second reason was that I wanted to provoke them too in viewing man-woman relationship when reading the book. Tricky of me, huh? LOL.

The book consists of 33 articles, not all about gender things. Some are about Ayu’s witty criticism on life (such as, why writers in Indonesia seldom include animals in the stories, does it show that Indonesian people don’t love animals? About urine therapy, etc), also her criticism on the national politics of Indonesia (e.g. why until now PKI (Indonesia Communist Party) is still considered as latent danger. After Soeharto diminished the party in 1966, the offspring of the party is still considered as danger, to enliven this Communist Party again so that they don’t get appropriate treatment from the nation. Indonesian people easily get provoked with this PKI term until now.

I also take two articles from the book to discuss in my SPEAKING class. I didn’t bother myself to translate the articles into English. I let my students read the articles in Bahasa Indonesia. However, of course, the discussion in the class was conducted in English.

Until now, I have read some articles in SI PARASIT LAJANG many times. I never find it a bore. :) Perhaps next time I will give an interpretation of one article and post it in my blog. :)

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Student Dress Code

Once again another mayor of a town decrees that all female high school students in the town should wear long skirts. There a re a number of compelling reasons why such a decree by a regional official should be rejected outright.

Student dress code should not be determined by a town mayor. If any mayor who is so inclined cab willy nilly impose his will, ideas and standard of morality, where will it all end? The female students of different towns will be dressed in a manner dependent on the whim of the local mayor.

Arif Sirajuddin believes that a male’s unwanted attention and immorality of young women are determined by the length of a skirt. In civilized societies females wearing modern, modest and practical clothes do not attract unwanted attention from the opposite sex. Furthermore long skirts have no bearing whatsoever on the morality or lack thereof the wearers.

It is truly tragic that many a man puts the blame of immorality, sexual permissiveness and lewdness on the female. These men never think that perhaps the menfolk actually are the ones that need to learn to control their behavior and be respectful to women.

It is never acceptable to harass, even to leer at or let alone attack women just because they wear garments that are not to the liking of the oversexed men. Parents, teachers and religious leaders must instill this truism in their charges. The head of the local high school principals association, Saleh Rugaya, even goes so far as stating that long skirts will reduce crime rates and sexual harassment. (I’m in agreement that students wearing long skirts are not likely to commit petty crimes because they can hardly avoid capture!)

Local representative of the Department of Education, Muhammad Asmin, sates that policy is to apply to all secondary schools, state-run and private, Islamic as well as non-Islamic.

One can’t help thinking that the real motivation behind this absurd ruling (just like another mayor’s ruling that elementary school pupils cannot attend secondary schools unless they can read the Koran) is the forced imposition of Islamic ideals on non-Muslims.

It is high time the central government stops the introduction of bylaws and regulations that are absurd, impractical, prejudicial to non-Muslims and definitely contrary to the laws of the land, including the Indonesian Constitution.

From YOUR LETTERS of THE JAKARTA POST Thursday July 27, 2006, written by Paul E. Rantau from Singapore.