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Monday, October 12, 2009

Romance Stories


Starting last week in grade 8 my students and I have been talking about “romance”. To start the unit, some questions to be answered are:

  1. Have you ever fallen in love?
  2. Do you consider yourself as a romantic person?
  3. What romantic thing have you ever done so far?

The background: there are five students in grade 8, two boys—around thirteen years old; three girls—around twelve till thirteen years old. Except one girl who has got her period, apparently the others are really too young kids to talk about romance. It is understandable then if they could not give satisfactory answers for those abovementioned questions. Even, they have not undergone to have a crush on any girl/boy yet.

The following reading passage to discuss was an excerpt of a romance story. Romance stories have some ‘guidelines’ that must be followed by writers; these guidelines are exactly like stories depicted by melodramas: the men are very good-looking, macho, masculine, rugged, protective, strong; the girls are beautiful, delicate, vulnerable, feminine, dependent. The reading ends up with the guy proposing the girl who shyly accepted the proposal happily.

One female critical student of mine criticized it, “How could the girl accept the proposal? In the beginning of the story it was illustrated that these two people didn’t know each other. How could she accept a stranger to be her husband?”

(Read it => this girl hasn’t been introduced into patriarchal culture that adores marriage—the so-called imprisonment for articulate women according to radical feminists :-P)

Therefore then I explained the fact that we live in a marriage-oriented society. Women who have reached a certain age bracket will feel uncomfortable if they are still single. It is because society will cruelly besiege her with question, “When will you get married?” Society will speak behind her, or even in front of her as someone unwanted. This is really hurtful to some people so that to stop this, they then grab anybody to marry.

Then the critical student said, “I remember what happened to my housemaid. At that time she was 31 years old, still single. One time she was invited to be back to the village by her uncle. In fact then her uncle asked her to marry a guy, a total stranger. And to my surprise, she just accepted it. I didn’t get it at that time. How could she marry a stranger? Wasn’t she happy to be single? Was it because her uncle forced her to get married?”

Perhaps …

Perhaps also in fact she didn’t feel comfortable due to social pressure to single women.

“Why is society so mean, Miss?” she asked me.

I could not give my students a satisfactory answer for this question.

One question written under the reading passage is “Why do romance stories stop at the proposal or wedding parties?”

Surprisingly, my students answered, “Because they do not want to tell stories about sad things. You know there are many problems happen in a marriage: a husband beats his wife, a husband marries another woman, blah blah blah …” This is supposed to be uttered by feminists, not by a thirteen year old girl, who doesn’t know marriage-oriented patriarchy yet.

“This story is so yucky, Miss. Can we just skip this unit talking about romance? We don’t like it.” a student said.
Oh well, of course I cannot. :)
PT56 12.25 111009

10 comments:

Software UM said...

Wow, dangerous questions bu.

A Feminist Blog said...

She is the most critical student I have ever known, in that age. :)
Thanks for the comment :)

adiwena said...

eight grade?! Whoa... the next Betty Friedan, eh.

johnorford said...

Sounds like a smart kid!

retno said...

wow! i like your posts. Congrat!

A Feminist Blog said...

She is the most critical kid I have ever met so far :)

Andi Bintang said...

Hello, nice to meet You... I come From Indonesia. How to write article in English???. Great for You ...

Fany said...

i got i little different story mbak nana.
i wanted to get married to have a place i can call 'my own family' :)
not b/c of social pressure.
and yes i did married a stranger. i met my husband once, and he proposed in the next meeting, then both of us prepared for the wedding afterward (should be 3 months from that engagement day, but delayed to 6 due to family problem).
i met his friends before i met him and from them i pictured how this guy-my husband-like. then I only need to ask God : "if he's the one, please bring him closer. if not, help me to forget him."
He made things so easy for us then.
And here we are, having a lovely 3 years little girl, and hopefully a beautiful baby 5 months from now :)
what i want to say, marriage is not a must, i agree. but if there are so many good things we can do without being 'bonded', i can say there are more to get by being in this institution, if we can see it in different perspective :)

Life wont be complete without risks involved, isn't it? ;)

xoxo

A Feminist Blog said...

Fany,
thanks for sharing your experience with me and my blog readers here.
My own experience, from some people close to me, friends and relative, I have written their stories too somewhere in my blog here. Three people married 'strangers' in their life, whom they knew not more than six months before they got married.
One, his marriage is ok so far, no kids yet, but the couple seem fine.
Another one, her marriage is ok too, having two kids, only sometimes the woman complains her decision to marry that 'stranger'. (she was in the middle of her thirties when marrying her hubby who was nine years younger than her). But she has tried her best to compromise with anything happens in her marriage.She admitted that she married that guy because of 'age problem'.
The last one, she said similar things with what you wrote there. She prayed 'istikharah' saying to God exactly the same as you wrote there, so she married him. Only one month after the wedding, she found out that her hubby suffered from schizophrenia, one thing the hubby's family hid from her, expecting that the family would be able to get rid of their sick son. Since then on, she has felt restless about her marriage, about her decision she took hurriedly. The doctor said that the hubby's life would always depend on the medication, if not he would get 'insane', u know what I mean, rite? and if they have kid, the kid will get 80% possibility to get the disease.
Her life will never be the same again, will not be as peaceful as before.
I know every choice gives us risk and responsibility. But if we can minimize the bad risks, why can't we do that? :) if the bad risks are resulted from the decision to marry a stranger, why can't we avoid it? :-D

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