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Saturday, February 10, 2007

My Children Class

One case happened in my Elementary Children class some weeks ago—a student lost his student book. It happened when three students went outside the classroom because I gave them some time for a short break after they finished doing their assignment earlier than the other students. Not long after that, the bell rang showing that the session was over. Two students—their initials are R and Iq—came back to the classroom, and asked me if they could leave. Iq said ok. The last student—his initial is L—entered the classroom after the two students left. When putting his books into his bag, he found out that his student book was missing. He came to me to ask me about that. I directly thought that probably one of his friends sitting next to him mistakenly took his book. I told L to be patient and tried to find it the following meeting.

The following meeting, Iq was absent while R attended the class. I asked R whether he mistakenly took L’s book. R convincingly shook his head and said that he knew nothing about that.

The following meeting, Iq was still absent. R was absent too.

The following meeting, Iq was present and I directly asked him whether he mistakenly took L’s book. He seemed restless with my question and responded, “Ms. Nana, I don’t know.” But then he tried convincing me that he didn’t bring L’s book. At that time, R was absent so that I couldn’t confront the two students. However, I asked Iq to check again in his house in case he didn’t realize it.

The following meeting, Iq said he didn’t find the book in his house. I felt uncomfortable because L’s mother asked me about that, and showed disappointment because her son’s book was missing. This is the first term L learns English in my workplace. However, I didn’t have a heart to force either R or Iq to admit that one of them had mistakenly took L’s book. Nevertheless, when comparing R and Iq’s facial expression when I asked them about the book, I could recognize the uneasiness at Iq’s face while R seemed ok, and not troubled at all.

Meanwhile, since I couldn’t find L’s book, his mother copied it from another student. It is an imported book and my workplace doesn’t let the parents buy a book from us. They will get the books—the student book and the workbook—for free when they register. However, they cannot buy it when their child’s books are missing.

A week ago, when checking the students’ assignment in their student books—on two different meetings—I recognized Iq submit two different books on those two different meetings. On the second meeting when finding Iq submitted a different book from the previous meeting, I again asked him about that. Uneasily, he said, “I don’t know about that. I have told you before that I don’t find the book at my house.” I didn’t really believe in him and said, “Tell your mother I want to see her in person.”

Yesterday, her mother came to me and asked what was going on. I told her about my curiosity that probably her son mistakenly took another student’s book. She said she did find two student books in Iq’s bag and she already told Iq to give one of the book to me or ask one of the classmate who has lost the book. I was surprised to hear that because in front of me, Iq didn’t admit that he brought L’s book while in fact his mother had asked him to give the book to me.

When talking about this case to a (female) workmate of mine, she commented that the mother seemed a good person and didn’t have any idea how she could have a son who had tried to be a cheater in a very young age. Another (male) workmate who heard our discussion said, “The mother works, doesn’t she? She must not have enough time to take care of the son by herself. It must be the maid who ‘teaches’ him to do such a thing.


Two things I hated from my male workmate’s remark:

v Directly or not, he accused a working mother will create a cheater because she is busy outside and doesn’t have enough time to pay attention to the kid.

v He easily misjudged the housemaid—who unfortunately usually happens to have very little education—as giving bad influence.

Why didn’t he try to relate the accident—the six-year-old boy who had tried being a cheater—to the father who must be also busy working outside? When there is something wrong like this, both of the parents must be responsible to “cure” it, and not only blame the mother. Whether he realized it or not, he—my judgmental male workmate—supported the status quo of patriarchal society about public and domestic spheres.

He burdened the housemaid—and perhaps all housemaids in general—as the responsible side to raise the kids of their employers well, not only watching them physically but also psychologically, and mentally. He forgot that in Indonesia the wage of the housemaid most of the time is very little. Are those housemaids angels? They must work (sometimes) more than twelve hours a day and get paid very little and get so much burden?

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Women ...

The following short dialog happened in the teachers’ room of my workplace.

“Why do more women suffer from anorexia and bulimia, and not men?” a friend asked the question she asked her students in her class some days ago.

I disliked to hear her say that again because last Saturday, we already discussed it. What the hell made her say that again, in front of more workmates of ours?

Perhaps now I am in the middle of PMS—although I hate to use this as an excuse—so that I easily “blew up”.

I responded, “More women suffer from anorexia and bulimia, but not men. It is because of the pressure of society that women must look their best, slim, and not fat. The pressure of the mean society is strengthened by many advertisements on printed or electronic media about ideal body of women.”

Some workmates laughed to hear me say so. Did they think I was just joking?

The same workmate who mentioned the above question said, “My male students answered, “Because men are everything.” And then she giggled.

I replied (the same response I said to her last Saturday when only both of us discussed it), “Men are everything? Including being crazy? Lazy? Irrational because they say women are irrational creature only with the reason that we were born as women?” I said it with a very fierce tone. LOL.

A male workmate seemed to dislike to hear me say so. He responded, “No matter how the condition of a man is, fat or thin, tall or short, ugly or good-looking, still MEN ARE EVERYTHING.” (The emphasis is from me. LOL.)

Suddenly I remember a good friend’s suggestion, (“Don’t lose your temper easily!”) I didn’t respond that male workmate, and left the teachers’ room quickly. Besides, the bell had rung so that I had to go to class as soon as possible.

During the break, that annoying male workmate said something about women who speak up as bitch, I didn’t comment. I even didn’t turn to him. He couldn’t provoke me. LOL.

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Women = Breeders?

Have you ever heard that women in Japan get annoyed, angry, and upset when they are considered as machines to produce babies?

Feminists believe that to get married, to get pregnant, and then to deliver the baby and to breastfeed him/her is NO LONGER considered as women’s destiny in this life. Women DO NOT NEED to feel obliged to get married, to get pregnant, to deliver the baby and to breastfeed him/her.

It seems that this belief is embraced strongly by Japanese women so that the prime minister complained about the sharp decline of the birthrate. Therefore, he insisted that women be machines to produce babies again so that in the future, Japan will not lack younger generation.

I read the news about women-become-machine-to-produce-babies in the local newspaper in my hometown some days ago. When reading it, I remember a college friend who was often abused by her husband, “Look at your embarrassing body! Why don’t you join any aerobics or do any other exercise?” isn’t it very degrading for a woman’s confidence? Couldn’t he say in a more polite way?

This psychological abuse was also accompanied by financial oppression because the husband didn’t give her money for months with the reason that he used the money for business. Unfortunately, because they are Catholic—and as far as I know Catholic doesn’t grant divorce, my friend got difficulty to divorce her husband, until one day she told me that she had found support from a church and the minister and the congregation to help her to divorce her husband. However, because at that time her priority was to finish the study first, she postponed the plan for a divorce until she graduated.
Some months later, she changed her mind. She said that her five-year-old son wanted to have a younger sibling. She told me, “So, the first plan to do after I graduate is to get pregnant. After that, I will divorce my husband.”

GOSH!!! Why didn’t she just divorce him, look for another man, and marry him and have a baby from him, BUT NOT FROM THE MAN WHO HAS ABUSED HER?

I know that her research for her thesis, she used feministic perspective that of course had her read lots of books about feminism. And to me, feminism is a matter of making our own choices—without depending on man—doing anything we want---without any physical limitation. Nobody forced her to go on living in a hellish marriage only to have the second baby from the man who often said to her, “How embarrassing your body is!”

Making a choice to have a baby from the man she used to love and adore but then abused her is absolutely ILLOGICAL. Didn’t she realize that women are free to choose to have a baby from a man they loves and not from the man who abuses women?

To me, apparently, this friend of mine still cannot leave the dichotomy of women as a whore and a virgin.

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