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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why getting married?

A workmate of mine, whose stories oftentimes inspired me to write for my blog, told me an experience of her cousin some days ago. Her cousin, a woman, lives in a small town in Central Java while her husband lives in the metropolis Jakarta. Before they got married, they knew very little about each other. Because of respective jobs, they decided to undergo a long distance marriage. However, not long after their wedding day (three months or so), the husband started to stay away. He didn’t visit his wife regularly anymore.

Several months passed until the wife’s family found out that in Jakarta the husband had a boyfriend.
“If he already realizes that he is a homosexual, why did he marry my cousin?” my workmate asked me.

“Well, you know in our ‘culture’, most people still think that homosexual is a kind of disease. They believe that this kind of ‘disease’ maybe can be cured after getting married, to force the homosexual to ‘go back to the destiny’ that men—read it as human beings born with penis—were created to get attracted and marry women—read it as human beings born with vagina and breasts. As you read in some articles openly written by some homosexual people, many of them found out that they fail to ‘be cured’ after marrying a woman. This made them realize that marrying a woman is not the best cure, or perhaps this made them change their mind that homosexual is not a kind of disease. However, their voice is silenced by the very strong and oppressive opinion by the public that get powerful so-called justification from religious people.”

“What do you think of some people who say that they are really ‘cured’ after getting married?” my workmate inquired.

“I am sorry to say that I am not one of them so I don’t know how to answer that question of yours. In fact, I have never had a heart-to-heart talk with such people you mentioned.” Was my response. LOL. “There are many things to consider; one of them is whether they were truly born homosexual—such as Dede Oetomo (the writer of MEMBERI SUARA PADA YANG BISU—“Give voice to the dumb”) , or they ‘became’ homosexual after socializing with other homosexuals, or because of ‘trauma’ they got when they were very young, such as being raped by a man.”

My workmate also told me about her cousin—the wife—who refused to divorce her homosexual husband. “I will wait…” was her excuse. “What is she waiting for?” my workmate asked me again. (You can comment that my friend mistakenly asked me, and not directly asked her cousin and her husband. LOL.)

“Perhaps she also thinks that being homosexual is a kind of disease. It means she is convinced that one day her husband will be cured, and he will be back to her.” I was trying to analyze. (So “wise guy” of me. LOL.)

“But you said that it is not a kind of disease. If her husband is not cured, her waiting will be very useless. She doesn’t know what she is waiting for?”

(You can say that this workmate of mine is very naïve. LOL.)

To answer that question, I cited an experience of another woman. This woman said that her husband has never treated her well since they got married twelve years ago. He always makes her cry. Recently, she got a job, to help someone open a burger stall. She said that the money she got really made her feel that she was really an important person. The money also made her feel confident to face her future.

“If only my pay is enough to afford my own life and my two children, I would prefer to live separately from my husband who never loves me,” she said to me.

I, who intended to be a mediator between her and her husband, then told her husband about this. FYI, her husband told me that he married her only ‘to follow what patriarchal culture believes that everyone must get married to be considered ‘normal’ because the girl he loves married someone else. The wife who oftentimes loses her control when being angry and becomes a boxer and the husband is the victim failed to make him love her due to that habit. The husband seemed very relieved hearing what I said. “How much is ‘enough’ to afford her life and our two children? I don’t mind at all to give all my pay to her as long as she lets me go.” He said.

The following day, I told the wife about what her husband said. Can you guess what she responded?
“No mbak, No matter what I don’t want to be separated from him. I will do anything he asks me to as long as this marriage goes on. Please tell me what I should do, mbak? I don’t want my husband to leave me.”

What is your conclusion?
1. The two couples have a wrong intention to get married.
2. The two women follow what public believe, “To stay married is better than being divorced, although they have to live in a loveless marriage, although they have to shed blood tears because of unhappiness inside it.”
PT56 15.00 230308

Feminism Ideology

“From several kinds of feminism ideology, how do you classify Gilman?”


This question came up after I presented my paper entitled “Woman Madness in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and Putu Oka Sukanta’s ‘Dewi Bulan Jatuh di Batam’”, in the International Seminar held by Catholic University Soegijapranata Semarang, last January 16, 2008.

I must say that it was somewhat difficult to answer since Gilman did not call herself as a feminist. One clear reason behind Gilman’s opinion was in the end of the nineteenth century, the women (feminist) movement struggled for suffrage. Gilman was of opinion that right to vote didn’t automatically make women equal to men. She was convinced that working to earn money in order to be economically independent would make a woman equal to men. However, the twentieth century critics labeled her as a radical feminist due to that conviction—that made Gilman different from her contemporary woman activists in that century. Therefore, to answer the question above, I cited what the twentieth century literary critics called Gilman.

“How do you classify yourself? A liberal feminist, a radical, Marxist, or any other kind of feminist? Someone asked me via a short message.

This question also made me dumb. How do I classify myself?

Different from Gilman who refused to be called a feminist, I proudly claim myself as a feminist. I oftentimes think that I need to expose my way of thinking, with the hope that people will understand why I say this and that, or write this and that. Nevertheless, I don’t mind either if my exposing myself as a feminist to public doesn’t make them easily understand me. (This is of course because many people in Indonesia still don’t know what ‘feminist’ means. They are somewhat confused of terms ‘feminist’ and ‘feminine’. LOL.)

However, the same as my confusion how to classify Gilman, I don’t want to classify myself either, whether I am pro of what kind feminism ideology. As I have written in several posts in my blogs (for those who loyally follow and ready my posts, probably they will not really mind themselves whether I am a radical, liberal, etc feminist), I have my own definition of feminism. Feminism is more to give women right to choose kind of life for themselves. Give women freedom to make their own decision. What kind of decision? Read my previous post I entitled “Gender Equality”.  Issue of what kind of feminism ideology is not important for me anymore, as long as women feel at ease in their lives. Focus more on bettering women’s lives rather than stopping at question “What kind of feminist are you?” We are all sisters, aren’t we? No matter what kind of feminism ideology we adhere? Even no matter whether a woman doesn’t involve herself in a feminist movement.
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