Talking about househusbands, (you can refer to my previous post entitled “Househusbands”), I remember one classmate of mine when I pursued my study at American Studies Graduate Program of Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. In the beginning of my study, I got to know her, and she told me (also my classmates) that she moved to Yogya together with her son and husband. They rented a house for three of them, bringing with them some furniture they needed in their daily life. My first personal questions were: “What does her husband do? Unemployed? So that he could follow where his wife is going—to pursue her Master’s Degree? How could that classmate of mine be confident to face her new community having an unemployed husband?” (NOTE: Many women I know personally will feel embarrassed/shy if they have unemployed husbands so that they tend to hide it.)
(Un)luckily I was not a kind of nosy person so I didn’t try looking for answers of those questions of mine. In the middle of that first semester, my friend got sick—very exhausted doing abundant of assignments, and apparently she didn’t have strong body—so that she needed to be hospitalized. At that time, I tried answering my own questions: “This friend of mine happened not to have strong body, she easily got sick. For this, her husband joined her to come to this city, to take care of her.
Gradually, I knew her quite better because we often did assignments together. From our chats, I knew that it was their decision together—that my friend kept pursuing her career as one lecturer in one private college in Indonesia, and her husband became a househusband. This was quite a difficult decision to make because they got criticism from their own family/relatives. The ‘belief’ that in the family men are the primary breadwinners and if a woman works she will just be a secondary one is still very strong in Indonesia. When a man has a lower income than his wife, it can be already considered as an easy excuse to have familial conflict, READ men will lose their dignity for that, it will hurt their pride. Therefore, they will feel inferior. A man who feels inferior then tend to abuse his wife to show that no matter what he is still the superior in the family. Moreover a husband who doesn’t have his own income?
I had to give my two thumbs up to this classmate and her husband because it even didn’t bother them at all. Before taking that decision—to quit from his job—the husband already thought about it seriously, including to face the ‘mockery’ from society as ‘an irresponsible husband’ because he didn’t support his wife and son financially. Many people who didn’t know the situation of the family easily appointed the husband as an irresponsible person by not having a steady job.
As an outsider, I could see that their relationship was equal. My classmate never showed bossy personality because she was the breadwinner. Her husband didn’t show any inferiority. One time I went to their dwelling to do an assignment. My friend and I were busy discussing, preparing paper and presentation, while her husband was tending their kid (who was four years old at that time), and then preparing lunch for all of us.
When my classmate graduated with flying colors, another classmate of mine—who happened to have a not supportive husband—commented, “She is successful in her career and study not because her own capabilities, but also because the strong support from her husband.”
That classmate of mine said that although she was the breadwinner, her husband was the ministry of Finance in the family. LOL.
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