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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Naked Women versus Terrorists?

Have you ever heard the contradictory relationship between naked women and terrorists? One big ulema from hard-line fundamentalist Islamic organization in Indonesia stated that naked women are much more dangerous than terrorists.
Here is the contra statement from one famous feminist columnist in Indonesia.

Bombs, boobs, or bust: Choose your weapon!
Julia Suryakusuma, Jakarta

I read with a mix of amusement and relief Abu Bakar Ba'asyir's statement that Indonesian TV shows featuring scantily dressed women are more dangerous than the Bali bombs because they undermine public morality (The Jakarta Post, Sept. 20, 2006). Amusement, for obvious reasons, and relief as it would be a sad day indeed when bombs are considered more dangerous than half-nude women!

Relief also that the alleged spiritual leader of Jamaah Islamiyah and the head of Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI), a hard-line Islamic organization, is openly admitting his fear of women! Well, all powerful people have their Achilles heel, and his is hardly unique. In fact, fear of women has colored much of human history.

Historically -- and in most countries and cultures, it seems that men have tried to contain and repress women's sexual (and spiritual) power through religion and other forms of institutionalized power.

It's easy to think of examples: The burning of witches in Salem, purdah or the forced wearing of the veil, genital mutilation, putting a premium on girls' virginity, basing family honor on the sexual control of daughters and wives, exacting severe punishment for adultery (including stoning, legal in Iran), segregating girls and women from boys and men, and now in Indonesia, the enactment of Islamic inspired local ordinances that severely restrict women's mobility and freedoms.

And, if it's not repression, it's exploitation -- complementary forms of control and abuse -- where women -- adults and children -- are used for men's sexual gratification or profit through incest, rape, sexual harassment, battering, pornography and prostitution. Men create the demand and women have to provide the supply while at the same time being expected to embody virtue and morality. The hypocrisy is astounding, but it has been typical of the patriarchal religions that have molded most cultures of the world. It was not always that way, however.

In ancient Sumeria and Babylon, for example, the queen goddess was the center of the civilization. If she was not satisfied by the male of her choice, this was seen as a sign that the land would become infertile. Then, female sexuality was at the center of power, but now we have moved from cultures that celebrated feminine sexuality to ones that try to stigmatize it.

But they don't always succeed. I, for one, can derive a lot of pleasure -- and even power -- from my own sexuality. When I walk into a reception in a strappy, sexy, evening gown, cleavage showing (a little goes a long way!), long legs (even a bit of thigh -- horror of horrors!) flashing from the slits in my streaming, Barbie-style, red handkerchief dress, and my long black hair flowing, all eyes are on me.

It feels good! And it's fun, for both me and the spectators. As a former fashion model, I'm used to putting myself on display. It's just a show, as well as a form of art. They say that woman is a work of art -- God's work of art -- so I'm just displaying God's handiwork, am I not? Afterwards, I go home, take off my make-up and jewelry, put on a sexy nightie for my husband -- albeit briefly -- and be a ... um .... good wife to him. You can imagine!

It's all rather harmless really, so why does everyone get all excited and hot under the collar (and elsewhere) when it comes to sex? My question for Ba'asyir specifically is, how can he assert with such certainty that women have a powerfully corrupting influence, that "watching scantily clad women on television can destroy the faith of the believer"? (AFP, Sept. 20, 2006). Does he have extensive personal experience? If he does, then he's a hypocrite. If he doesn't, he should politely shut up and stick to matters he is more familiar with. Bombs maybe?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say, and lust and depravity is in the heart and mind of the man. When he was meditating under the bodhi tree, Buddha was tempted by, among other things, naked women. Did he budge? Did he flinch? Was the focus of his meditation diverted? No, because his faith was strong and steadfast.

Morality comes from within. We live in a world fraught with temptations -- not just sexual -- so better start pumping your morality muscle! Ironically, Ba'asyir seems to be tacitly admitting that he and his ilk have dirty minds and little faith. Those who need guns to convert people to their belief probably don't even believe in God, because if they did they'd trust in Her alone to do the job. Would that not be the logical conclusion?

Why are people so uptight about nudity and sex, censoring it at every turn, yet so promiscuous about violence, which is truly vulgar and obscene? Hitler apparently was 'celibate' (i.e had problems getting it up), and we all know the horrors he caused. We live in a world that glorifies violence but if we glorified sex coupled with spirituality instead, we'd be all much better off.

Maybe Ba'asyir should expose himself more to female skin and roll around in the hay more, so to speak. Perhaps that might release some of the tension and nervous energy that seems to be causing him, and the Indonesian state, so much trouble. Hey, sex, power, politics -- they're all very closely related -- hence my book, "Sex, Power and Nation". Read it folks!

But not everything about Ba'asyir's statement is bad. Inadvertently, he gave me a brilliant idea about how to deal with Muslim terrorist hijackers. Rather than bother about complicated and frustrating security measures, airlines should simply eliminate all male attendants on flights and have only nude female space waiters. Since a nude woman is apparently something that completely offends potential Muslim terrorists, they will naturally avoid flying! In fact, maybe we should all run around nude and there would finally be peace in the world!

The writer is the author of Sex, Power and Nation. She can be contacted at
jsuryakusuma@mac.com or jskusuma@dnet.net.id

Luckily Julia Suryakusuma could make fun of Ba’asyir’s ridiculous and abusive statement. ME? I need some days to take a breath to control myself not to get mad. LOL.

PT56 23.04 280906

1 comment:

diny said...

imho, in a country with a strict censorship like my beloved indonesia, people (men, mostly) tend to react more sensitively to anything that is being censored. with the majority of muslims, thus our government runs by [mostly] muslim. therefore nudity or any intimate actions displayed to public is a big no-no. maybe julia's point of view is a bit over the top. but if you're exposed to those taboo stuff from childbirth, maybe you're used to it and less likely to develop poor moral. thanks nana for letting me blab :)