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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sexual Harassment

What is sexual harassment? It is a kind of harassment related to sexual activities done by one person or a group of people to someone else where the latter feels uneasy, upset, disgusted and humiliated. It is not called harassment when both parties enjoy doing those activities; moreover get satisfaction by doing them.

Last Saturday 6 December 2008 I invited my class to watch NORTH COUNTRY, a movie inspired by a true story, about a woman who worked for a mining company and got terrible sexual harassment. To read my review, you can click the following link

My class itself contains eight female students, six of them study in Engineering Faculty, one studies in Economics, while the other one studies in Medical Faculty. The issue of the movie becomes very intriguing since it tells about a woman’s struggle to get justice after getting sexually harassed when working in a so-called job traditionally held by male, and all of my students are female. In addition, six of them study in majors where women become minority, just like the place where Josey Aimes, the main character in the movie worked.

“Since you study in majors where women are minority, will you tell me whether you experience similar things like what Josey got in the movie?” I asked them.

Indonesia is absolutely a country where women do not need to feel threatened to get terrible and shameful sexual harassment, like in the movie of course. (Therefore, I am against the anti pornography law! Moreover in the practice women even vulnerably and easily become accused as criminals, such as by breastfeeding the baby in public while the baby needs milk badly.) I was not surprised when my students told me that such sexual harassment did not happen to them. The boys in my students’ classes were even helpful and a bit protective, for example when they did assignments together until quite late at nights, they would take the girls home instead of just letting them go home by themselves. However, as time went by, and their relationship was getting closer, no barrier anymore between boys and girls, the boys sometimes treated the girls just like they were boys. My students did not give me any examples of such treatment though.

I compared it with my own experience to get involved in a community where women were minority—b2w Semarang community. Since it was established by the end of June 2005, there have been more or less 50 members with four female members who were quite active to join its activities. My male friends absolutely did not do sexual harassment to us. I barely got their protective treatment though, except one or two members whose ‘nature’ was like that, perhaps. Maybe because so far I seldom join any ‘challenging’ journey (such as off road trips with hilly and stony roads). So far, I have felt ‘safe’ though in the community.

Going back to the discussion in my class …

The two students who study at Medical faculty and Economics faculty said that there were more girls than boys in their majors, although it did not necessarily mean that boys were the minority there.
“How about girls doing sexual harassment back to boys?” I jokingly proposed that idea.

Spontaneously I saw disgusted expression in their face. LOL.

“They would not feel harassed, Ma’am!!! They would even enjoy it!” one of them shouted. LOL.

Then I told them one experience I had on my journey from Jogja to Semarang several years ago. I was sitting next to a guy, perhaps at his late twenties or early thirties. I did not really remember what we talked about, but I remember suddenly he said, “Because of feminism ideology, many women forget their nature as women.”

“Can you clarify what you meant with women forgetting their nature as women? Can you give me examples?

He did not come up with satisfactory answer, but said something else. “When the time comes that women want to rape men, I want to volunteer myself,” said he confidently. LOL.

That made me turn my head and looked at him at a glance. I talked to myself, “When my time comes to want to rape men, you are not included into one of them.” LOL. LOL. To him I said, “Well, when you are willing with that action, it is not a rape then. It is just a usual sex where both of them do it willingly.”
My students laughed hearing this story.

“That’s it, Ma’am. We don’t want to harass men sexually because it even would make them happy, instead of making them feel threatened.”

Apparently they never heard or watched a movie entitled “Indecent Proposal” where a woman did sexual harassment to a man and the man hated it. I also told them one ‘accident’ of an online friend of mine who got sexually harassed by one boss’ niece. The accident made him resign from his job. This showed that men could also feel threatened by sexual harassment done by women.

Sexual harassment can happen to anybody, done by any men/women, usually to the ones whose social status is lower than the doer: men to women where the patriarchal culture is still very strong (read รจ women are considered the weaker sex), women to men where the women’s social class is higher than the victim, men to male-to-female transsexuals in an unequal relationship or on the way around, especially when the men are straight.

PT56 13.50 081208


Anonymous said...

Very interesting article indeed. It shows how immature and insensitive Indonesian men are, in general. But who could blame them, since we never get proper sex education at school, and as result we turn into porn images and videos.

Added with the patriarchal culture, no wonder they never value women as they should.

I wonder if they ever said raped women "ask for it" or are partly blamed due to the way they dress?

It's a looong way to educate Indonesians.

Greetings from Scotland

Nana Podungge said...

hello :)

very sadly I say that what you wrote there is right, Indonesian men are immature and insensitive when talking about sexual harassment. In many rape cases, even women are blamed :'(

it indeed takes a long time to educate Indonesians :'((