From my blogging at http://afemaleguest.blog.co.uk, I got some lively and intensive discussion on some topics, especially on women status in patriarchal culture, and secularism with some bloggers that mostly come from western countries. You can guess that the discussion is mostly on comparison between the condition of women in Indonesia and that of women in western countries, besides the situation of patriarchal society in Indonesia and that of in western countries. I can come to the conclusion that Indonesia is still undergoing what happened in western countries some fifty or sixty years ago. This is exactly what one guest lecturer—a Professor of History—said too when I was pursuing my study at American Studies Graduate Program three years ago. During his stay and lecturing at Gadjah Mada University—one oldest state university in Indonesia—he made some observations and he concluded that Indonesia is left behind around 50 years compared to America.
Some examples of the conclusion:
1. Around a year ago, I posted an article about how some regions in Indonesia started thinking of applying regulation on wearing hijab for uniform for girls at junior and senior high schools. The reason was to “protect” those girls from sexual abuse. The hot issue in some mailing lists a year ago about this made me remember my own experience when I was at senior high school. My mother made my skirt seven cm under the knees because that was the regulation from school. And in fact I was the only girl who wore that and that made me laughed at by many boys at school. I still remember some of them said, “Look at that girl. She is wearing her mother’s skirt!” And that embarrassed me.
When making senior high school uniforms for Angie my daughter, I found the same regulation too from the school, the skirt must be some cm under the knees, while the sleeves must reach the elbow. However, remembering my embarrassing experience, I asked the tailor to make it exactly at Angie’s knees. And still Angie complained because it was still too long compared to her other school friends, except some girls who decided to wear hijab to school, so consequently the length of their skirt reached their feet.
Commenting on my post, some western bloggers said that it also happened in their era when they were teenagers, more than forty years ago. Schools also had regulations to decide how long a skirt had to be. Nowadays, it is not really important anymore. Sexual abuse happens not because of the clothes women wear but because of how men look at women: as human being or as sexual temptation.
2. When I wrote that I needed to be a declared feminist to show people around me that I don’t conform to social patriarchal norms in my community (people in my community still strongly believe that women are just the second sex; that women were born to be domestic creatures; that women must be submissive; that women were born to be motherly, feminine, gentle; that women must always give first priority to their husbands, then the kids, and they were at the last turn), my western blog friends said that it needed to be done in the west in 1960s. Although perhaps nowadays there are still some men who have such an old-fashioned way of thinking, western men accept equality between men and women more openly.
3. When I wrote that getting married is still mostly the ultimate goal in girls’ minds in Indonesia (meaning that Cinderella complex is still haunted many teenagers), my western blog visitors said that many women in the west already see the imbalance relationship between husband and wife, therefore, they would prefer to be in a relationship just for companionship (and not really legally married, I mean legally recognized by the country with some documents as proof) rather than to get married. Or it is already a trend to live single and happy.
A couple of days ago when I posted my article I entitled “Marriage, Polygamy, and Single”, one blog friend said, “How odd! Here in England, people no longer see marriage as the only gate to get worldly happiness. Youngsters would rather choose a more equal relationship which is somewhat difficult to find in a relationship between husband and wife in a marriage.”
I remember what is illustrated in MONA LISA SMILE movie where Katherine Watson, a lecturer of art, encouraged her female students to pursue their own career after graduating from college rather than end up only as homemakers. She was considered weird due to that. Or an imaginary character, Laura Brown in THE HOURS movie that chose to leave her family to follow what her own heart called her—to live all alone rather than to live as a housewife. The setting of these two movies was in 1950s America. Nowadays, it is not a weird thing anymore for women to choose to live single and be happy.
I believe in natural law that says everything changes. Nothing stays the same. I am of opinion that the tendency of this avoiding marriage will happen too in Indonesia sooner or later.
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