Last Monday 15 October 2007 when reading an article in the local newspaper about a thirty-year-old woman who left her two toddlers in a car parked in the parking lot of one big mosque located in the downtown of Semarang, I remembered one article I posted in my blog more than a year ago. (Here is the link http://afeministblog.blogspot.com/2006/04/mental-depression.html) Women who are burdened by patriarchal society’s norm to be “good women” or “good wife” are more apt to get nervous breakdown more often than men.
More than a year ago when my Mom told me about one friend of hers—around sixties—who left her husband and children, I also thought of the same thing. The husband said to my Mom, “We never quarrel, everything is okay between us. That’s why I don’t understand why she left abruptly.” I must say that until this twenty first century, Indonesian women—or perhaps eastern women—are still burdened by “doctrines” to be “good women”, such as: always submit to your husband, listen to anything he says to you and obey it, give him your first priority while yours is the last, etc. That’s why I somewhat doubted with what her husband said. “Never quarrel” did not automatically mean that everything was okay because it was very possible that his wife was practicing those good-women doctrines that unfortunately did not fit her way of thinking. However, she did not have any other choice but obeyed. After she thought that she no longer had patience to live her life, she went away.
On Tuesday 16 October 2007 the same local newspaper informed that the thirty-year-old woman—she was recognized as Diana—was found in one street in the country—between Semarang and one small town nearby. She was diagnosed as suffering from a serious mental depression so that she could not give any explanation of her act. Due to that, she was brought to a mental hospital in Semarang.
Similar to one accident that happened to a mutilated woman body several months ago, the local newspaper started to try ‘making up the background’. Therefore, suddenly Diana became like a new-born celebrity in Semarang. People are made to be curious to know the personal life of Diana (by the continuation of ‘making up the background’ news in that local newspaper daily), her ‘individualist’ lifestyle (read not get along with the neighbors well), her marriage life, her business, etc. This reached a peak when the local newspaper featured this case in its editorial on Wednesday 17 October 2007 entitled “Ibu yang Tega terhadap Anak-Anaknya” (A woman who is heartless to her children). Apart from what was written in the article, the title itself already gave unfair judgment toward Diana. She was judged as heartless without trying to look into the background of her act first.
The article also emphasized on Diana’s individualist lifestyle and aloof character as “unhealthy socializing’. If only she had been more sociable, perhaps the accident (read Diana leaving her toddlers in a car in a parking lot of one mosque) would not have happened.
I do agree when people say that human beings are social creatures. They need to get along with other people. To some extent, some people really need someone they trust to confide in, to reduce their mental burden, or to share their happiness and sorrow. However, for aloof people—I am one of them—it is not easy for them to do that. Being friendly to other people—for example neighbors in this case, or workmates—does not always mean it is easy to confide in to them, and automatically it will reduce their burden.
LONGMAN Dictionary defines ‘individualist’ as someone who does things in their own way and has different opinions from most other people. An individualist will not like the idea to bother other people while expecting that other people will let them live their life peacefully too. No one bothers and no one to be bothered. Someone becomes an individualist when they realize that their way of life is different from other people so that they will feel uncomfortable to open themselves, moreover in society in Indonesia, where people will not easily be able to differentiate whether their neighbors care or are nosy.
So, does it mean that an individualist does not need someone to talk to or to confide in? In PRIME the movie, Rafi needs a therapist, a professional “listener’ so that she has to pay some amount of money only to find someone to talk to. In Indonesia, recently there have been some cases of celebrities to go to ‘ustadz’ or ulema that they call as their “spiritual teachers” to talk about their problems and ask for suggestion. The newspaper mentioned that Diana also has one spiritual teacher.
Perhaps it does not sound practical, besides it is also expensive because someone has to spend some money to find someone who is willing to listen to them. However, for aloof people who cannot easily talk to anybody, it is the best choice.
Going back to Diana’s case. I am of opinion that this is closely related to this patriarchal society that are still gender-biased. I am looking forward to the time when women are no longer burdened by “doctrines” to be good woman or good wife.
PT56 22.00 171007