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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Celebrating Women's Diversity

Celebrating Women's Diversity” is the main topic of Jurnal Perempuan (Women’s Journal) number 54. Diversity is indeed something certain that we cannot avoid in our lives. To force a plural society to be homogeneous must be out of question.

What ‘diversity’ is meant in this journal?

The fact that the idea of feminism—that refers to the equality between men and women in all aspects of life—was proposed by the white women is undeniable. However, to say that what has been struggled by the white women can be applied to all kinds of women in the world—that means colored women are considered to have similar problems as well as solutions with the white—is something needs negating. Therefore, then some other kinds of feminisms appear, such as multicultural feminism that is considered more appropriate for colored women.

In Indonesia with its many kinds of ethnic group—with Javanese (read  have dark/light brown complexion, almond-shaped eyes, straight/wavy hair) as the majority—we still cannot categorize all women’s problems to reach equality with their fellow human beings (read  men) into one classification. Women In Java island themselves can be categorized into rural and urban women, metropolitan or small town women. They can have different way of thinking to view equality. Women in other islands—such as those who have dark complexion with kinky hair—perhaps need to struggle something else. Different culture in one ethnic group values different things from others.

I will take one easy example of women who come from low social class. They have to work hard to survive, not just to get self-esteem or reach self-actualization, as what women from high social class pursue in their life. These women probably will not understand why women from high social class have to work if their husbands can provide them everything they need. They even probably want to enjoy lingering at home, without worrying what to eat today. On the contrary, women from high social class who can “enjoy” working to pursue their self-actualization is not guaranteed free from patriarchal society’s oppression.

Therefore it is necessary to accept the diversity.

Several weeks ago, I read an article stating a group of women had a demonstration to refuse women activist’s struggle to reach equality (check this site – in Bahasa though
/DEMO_MENOLAK_KESETARAAN?replies_read=26) Since the article didn’t mention clear names for the exact places where those women did the demo, including the exact dates, I was of opinion that it was just a misleading writing by someone who did not like the idea of gender equality. However, if it did happen, I think we had better respect each other’s values. We—women activists—appreciate those women who choose to be full housewives, dedicate their whole lives for their husband and children, as well as make themselves subservient before their husbands—the breadwinner. On the other hand, they respect women activists who keep struggling for gender equality. As I wrote somewhere in this blog, feminism also means giving women full choices what to do in their life, whether they want to be a full housewife, or to work in public sphere, either for self-esteem or self-actualization or work to make their ends meet.

God, the Omnipotent, did not create just one race because I believe God also thinks that differences create beauty.

PT56 21.30 091207


Wazeen said...

hi mbak Nana, I think that I had a similar childhood experience as yours, it's very interesting that those who are educated with a strict religious tradition (Islam), when they become adult they start to questioning what they got in their childhood, meanwhile those who gets what so called a secular education when they grow up, once they know religious stuffs, then they start to believe and understand them in a strict way. Intereesting.

Nana Podungge said...

Hello Wazeen :)

one great thinker -- T.S. Eliot if I am not mistaken -- once said that in their lives, 'wise' people tend to do much exploration to widen their horizon, or perhaps only to 'survive' :). During their exploration, they perhaps will come back to the beginning point of the exploration, but of course this time they are richer with life experiences than the first time.

Until now, I am still stranded somewhere, not yet come back to the beginning point of my exploration. :)