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Friday, February 25, 2011

Beliefs about love and sex

After discussing this topic last week in my Religious Studies class, I asked my students to summarize the result of the discussion as well as their comments. Below are two writings of theirs.


Religion has a strict rule when it comes to love and sex. Homosexuality is forbidden in almost all religions. Islam thinks they should die. Some religions encourage its followers to have children, which may cause over population and funding problems.

The Jewish religion's book shows that orthodox Jews wish for homosexuals to be hit by a meteorite. Marriage with the same sex is usually scolded by most religions, so people must marry with different sex.

In my opinion, religions should not encourage people to have many offspring, it will not have a good result. ("Look up at the heavens and count the stars - if indeed you can count them ... so shall be your offspring be. Genesis 15:5) Examples of "not good results" = unintentional sibling marriage, a new Nazi regime, starvation, age limit on people (kill yourself at 65), and the need for a new huge warfare. Everyone never has children equal to the number of stars. That will be all.

By the way, some religions are sexist. ("Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrence. Leviticus 18:22; or "Do not come near a woman during her period of uncleanness." Leviticus 18:19) Wait ... wait ... did I just say the Jewish scripture? Sorry. The End.


Love is defined as a feeling of attachment to other people while sex is an intercourse between two people. Both sex and love play an important role in religions, though different religions teach different perspectives on how they should be practiced.

Christians. for example, considers 'love' to be the most important law or principle. This is because God has loved His people so much that, as Christians, we should share His love by loving others. However, this unconditional love does not extent to sexual relationships, and sex is limited to married couples only.

In Hinduism, while sexual relationship is considered as something good, it is only limited to married couples because of the importance of self-control. Hindus restrict their children from contacting the opposite sex (aside from close relatives) to prevent them from having sexual desires before marriage.

For Muslims, marriage and sex are considered as an act of worship, as having children through sex is a way for humans to contribute towards Allah's creation. However, sex outside marriage is forbidden, because uncontrollable passion is considered evil.

Similarly, Jewish considers marriage and sex very important, and it is not natural for a Jew to be celibate (not married/virgin). Jewish believes that having large families is a blessing. As Abraham was promised descendants as plenty as stars and that every nation may be blessed through them.

For Sikhs, sexual intercourse is a way to concentrate on the divine love, and, like other religions, it is limited within a married relationship, as such is the only condition where sex can be considered "clean". The faithfulness towards a spouse is very important to Sikhism, so polygamy is not allowed.


A little background, in the beginning of this academic year, the first time I had "religious studies" with this class, John admitted that he was an agnostic. Vanya is a Christian.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Well ... well ...

I found it very funny when out of the blue I got some emails or poems or notes -- some from people I never know, some from people I know online -- that I guess the senders wanted to 'preach' on spiritual things; more exactly, from a so-called 'abrahamic' religion which was obviously not the one I (once) adhered to.

I am of opinion that they have visited my blogs or notes on FB about my spiritual journey where I sound like to be a non-believer. If I relate it to one movie I watched "SAVED!", perhaps those guys/girls wanted to save me from my being in (perhaps they were thinking that I was) limbo? Since I sound no longer (100%) believe in the religion forced to me when I was a kid?

I really really found it RIDICULOUS. But, anyway, that was a nice try, pal! I never read those emails -- that apparently for me just JUNK MAILS -- because I directly deleted them.
love and light for everyone,
Nana Podungge
~ label herself as a little devil ~

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

True love for women

So, how do you 'celebrate' your Valentine's Day this year?

There was an intriguing 'status' on FB from an online buddy yesterday: "Hey ladies, who is your true love? your hubby? kids? or ... those pretty shoes and bags?"

So, come on ladies! Instead of buying chocolates for your loved ones, buy your dream shoes and bags for yourself, since you deserve to be loved, by yourself!"

Hmmm ... I am wondering if there are women who don't like beautiful clothes, pretty shoes as well as attractive bags. I once did! Frankly speaking when the first time I got a job and felt like I could spoil myself with those 'women stuff', since I was (or I coveted to be included into) a 'fashionable woman'. LOL.

Until I realized that I did not need to always follow my greed, just to be "a real woman". LOL. Perhaps it was also triggered by the 'fact' (so I thought) that I had found my 'real identity'. If I am not mistaken it started in 2000. This (so-called) awareness was strengthened when I got to know feminism ideology in 2003.

So? No more buying clothes or shoes or bags if only to 'pile' them to adore their beauty. LOL. I have found my 'real passion' => books, feminism, and writing. I absolutely will buy new clothes or shoes or bags if I think I need new ones since the old ones are already worn out. LOL.

Meanwhile ...

In one mailing list I have joined for years I just found an ad about a new book published. The book compiles some writings about women and children. The main point of the book is to support women to love themselves just the way they are; no need to follow society's consensus about women -- such as women must wear beautiful dresses that will fit with their bags and shoes; women must have a so-called sexy body (which mostly means having tall and slim body with fair, spotless skin, long and straight hair) when they want to wear fashionable clothes. In addition, women must also have courage to say NO to their boyfriends/husbands when their partners want to have sex while women do not want to.

Well, if I can add, women also have rights to ask their boyfriends/husbands to have sex when they need it; women do not need to feel guilty when they want to spend their money on 'women stuff' and not labeled as 'victim' of capitalism as long as they are aware when doing that (too 'risky' eh, to use the word 'aware' here?) and not just follow the trend. Women also have right to spend their money to go to spas, beauty salon to make themselves feel beautiful for their own satisfaction, and not just to get appreciation from people around -- especially men -- since women do not need recognition from others only to feel beautiful. Women have right to wear any kind of clothes -- open/sexy or even covering all over -- and feel good for themselves.


And they are still 'true women', with any choice they make!

You can visit my other post about 'true women' here
Perempuan Sejati (in Bahasa Indonesia) or
True Women? (in English)

True love for women? Love yourself, folks!

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Chinese foot-binding versus European corset wearing

Chinese foot-binding versus European corset wearing

In one topic in History class, my student (in grade 7) and I discussed these so-called torturing phenomena towards women several centuries ago. These are indeed not new ‘things’ for me since I read some books about women when doing research for my thesis whose main topic is about a phenomenon of woman madness in the nineteenth century America, using Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novella entitled “The Yellow Wallpaper” as the main data. Nevertheless, when talking about these two phenomena, I did some more research in the internet.


In fact, this inhumane custom was practiced for approximately one thousand years in China, beginning in the tenth century and ending in the first half of twentieth century. Wikipedia stated that the origin of this practice was from the desire to emulate the naturally tiny feet of a favored concubine of a prince to a story of an empress who had club-like feet, which became viewed as a desirable fashion.

In the beginning of its practice it was carried out only among the elite and only in the wealthiest parts of China. This practice shows the ability of the husbands to afford their wives who did not need to work, who existed only to serve their husbands and direct household servants while performing no labor themselves. The economic and social attractions of such women may well have translated into sexual desirability among elite men.

However, several centuries later, this ‘custom’ was practiced not only among the wealthiest. By the seventeenth century, Han Chinese girls, from the wealthiest to the poorest people, had their feet bound, although it was somewhat less prevalent among poorer women or those that had to work for a living, especially in the fields.

For me personally, this is a very interesting finding. There is a tendency that people from the lower social class imitate what people from the higher social class have been doing. In the case of this foot-binding, one can say that the lower social class people do not really understand the main cause of doing this. When women from poor family have their foot bound while they still have to do manual labor, they themselves will be in trouble. They do not mind it perhaps because they crave to be included into the high social class community? The stereotyping about “beautiful women” in Chinese culture always make people not use their common sense?


The history of when this corset wearing is not really convincing. Some sources mentioned corset (this term ‘corset’ itself started to be used in the nineteenth century) was used for the first time by Catherine de’ Medici, wife of King Henry II of France in the sixteenth century. If at first it was used “only” as a support for women’s body to “mold the torso into a cylindrical shape, and to flatten and raise the bustline”, several centuries later, especially in the middle of the nineteenth century, during the Victorian era, where the strong domestication of women’s lives started to be carried out rigidly, after the Industrial Revolution, ‘corset’ was believed to be a woman’s main need to support her body because women were thought of the weaker sex. Women need a ‘support’ to stand upright. 

Similar to the phenomenon of Chinese foot binding where at the beginning it was practiced among the wealthiest families, corset was also mostly worn by high class ladies. They did not need to do many household chores because they had paid servants at home to take care of such cumbersome matters. Lower class ladies would wear looser corsets and simpler clothes, with less weight.

The most shocking finding was in fact when a source said that the corset was deemed morally and medically necessary. Tight lacing was considered virtuous – a loose corset was probably a sign of a loose woman. To keep her innocence and virtuosity, a lady had to be chaperoned everywhere she went. A woman needed to protect herself from lustful men (and her own morality) by wearing heavily reinforced layers of clothing and tight corsets that made getting undressed a long and difficult task.

This hostile view towards women reminded me of one regional rule in one city in Indonesia where women who work as ‘masseuse’ have to wear  girdled panties to “protect” themselves from lustful customers. When a man cannot appease his immoral lust, women have to take the risk รจ imprison themselves. In this case, Indonesia indeed are left behind some centuries compared to those European countries.

In conclusion, one can say that these both practices were carried out out of misogyny toward women. However, those tricky men used ‘reasons’ to make women feel proud to be a part of them.: Chinese foot-binding: because women wanted to be labeled “good and respected” wives, not to mentioned ‘lifted’ as to belong to high class society; European corset wearing, not only to fulfill society’s requirement to look beautiful (by having waist only around 16 inches) but also to be morally virtuous. 

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