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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Social media influence on my spiritual journey

Many people who claim to be busy say that joining social medias is just a waste of time. Some reasons are mentioned. First, people who are active in social medias tend to hide their true identity so we cannot really get true friends. Second, people who are social media addicts tend to be lousy in doing their jobs since their concentration is divided into two: their ‘real’ world and ‘cyber’ world. They also tend to gossip unimportant things online.

However, to me, joining two social medias – facebook (FB) and multiply (MP) gave me a very valuable lesson, especially related in spirituality/religiosity.

Since I was born in the so-called xenophobic family and raised in an almost homogenous environment, I often feel amazed by people who ‘seem’ to be religious (let’s say wearing jilbab) but they do not ‘suffer from’ xenophobia*. In my naive thinking, one can become only religious but xenophobic or irreligious so free from xenophobia.

Having an account on FB and ‘making online friends’ with those who label themselves as ‘spiritual** people’ have taught me a very good lesson. I – coming from ‘a boat full of religious but xenophobic people – once thought that spiritual people are better people since they are not xenophobic. But reading their posts taught me that they can be as annoying as religious and xenophobic people. They can also easily judge believers dumb, narrow-minded. In fact they can be snobbishly spiritual creatures. Spiritual people can be fundamentalist too.

As someone considering others mature, know their choices and be responsible with the consequences, I would rather think that people are free to choose their  spirituality/religiosity. People can choose to be a religious adherent of one religion or to be a deist or to be a non-believer. The most important thing is no one will force what they believe to others and respect others’ choices.

Participating in an essay writing on xenophobia on MP and reading essays submitted to the juries gave me an answer why some religious people can be free from xenophobia; a very simple reason, in fact. They were born and raised in a heterogeneous environment. They started socializing with people from different religions since they were kid and their parents as well as their (early) teachers never brainwashed them about ‘the chosen people’ (are only Muslim, let’s say, or any other Abrahamic faith adherents). They started seeing the beauty of rainbows in their different colors since they were very young. Therefore, they beautifully see others with their respective faiths without any judgment.

Very contradictory from me who was born in a homogenous environment. The fear that perhaps I would be an infidel – oh no, the fear that they would be thrown to hell if their kids convert – my parents brainwashed me about being the chosen people since I was a kid and sent me to an Islamic elementary school that completed my parents’ teaching on being religious. Of course I also learned about tolerance, but this was really artificial.

To close this writing, I can conclude that joining any social media does not only waste time. As long as we choose to socialize with appropriate online friends, we can get valuable lessons to live our lives.

*xenophobia here means feeling to be the only true believers and considering the others wrong since they adhere other religions, moreover non-believers. In other words it can be said that xenophobic people will easily judge others deviant or infidel.

** spiritual here means thinking that it is not important to affiliate to any religion; be it a deist or embracing ‘traditional’ beliefs, in Java island, for example: Kaharingan, Kepercayaan pada Tuhan YME, etc.

This was written to accompany my writings to be submitted to Wayan Lessy, the one who held the essay writing competition on ‘xenophobia’.
GL7 16.39 050912

This is, in fact, the continuation of my posts here and there; both are in Bahasa Indonesia. I am still struggling to find time (as well as mood) to translate them into English. Please pardon me. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012



Some time ago I discussed “circumcision” in my religious studies class. I downloaded the material to be discussed from . I intentionally selected the topic to introduce an idea about ‘female circumcision’ or people also call it as ‘female genital mutilation’. And, as I expected, all students did not know yet about the ‘existence’ of this disastrous ‘so-called’ tradition in some areas in the world. 


To begin with, we talked about male circumcision. One male student of mine who just moved back from America to Indonesia around a year ago said that he and his older brother got circumcised after they arrived back in their home country. This particular student of mine is around 18 years old. When I asked him why he did that, he said his parents convinced him that it would be for his as well as his brother’s health advantage. He believed that circumcised penis is more hygienic. And after being circumcised he said that he felt his genital area was cleaner or it was easier for him to clean it.

Another student said that he did not get circumcised because his mother never talked about it. He believed if it were really good for his health, his mother would talk about it and offered him to have it or not. The statistic given in the material discussed – only around 30% of males in the world are circumcised – strengthened his opinion that circumcision is not important.

Two female students shared their stories when their brothers got circumcised. They said that their brothers got their penis circumcised after they had a discussion about it with their parents – especially their fathers : It is important that men get circumcised for medical advantage. Besides for medical reason, they believed that circumcision is compulsary because it is one religious obligation.

However, when finding out that in fact only the book of Genesis stating the importance of performing circumcision – and not in The New Testament nor in Alquran – my students started thinking that perhaps circumcision is carried out in some areas in the world due to cultural reasons and not religious instruction. 


As I wrote above in fact my students have never heard of female circumcision yet. They were never aware of this bloody inhumane practice. Their parents never talked about it to my students and nobody else has ever got them to know this. Since the Genesis only mentioned about male circumcision – and no verse at all in the New Testament or Alquran mentioning about it – we came to the conclusion that female circumcision – or female genital mutilation – is all due to cultures. (At least it is not supposed to be a part of Abrahamic faiths’ rite.)

“Why does it state that female circumcision is very painful while male circumcision is not? Or at least not that painful?” one student asked when the handout we discussed wrote “painful procedure.”

It is a painful procedure perhaps because in fact in women’s genital area there is nothing to be cut for any reason – for example for hygienic reason. If there is no hygienic nor religious reason, why do many people still do that nowadays?

Genital cutting is widespread within some African cultures and ethnic groups. It is seen as the climax of initiation, something that both boys and girls have to take part in before they are accepted as adults in the community. According to those who support this practice, the process of female genital cutting has practical merits in a physically harsh society. It is proof that the woman is mentally strong and able to deal with the difficult responsibilities of adult life. Nevertheless, representatives from many countries in Africa meet each year to discuss ways to end the practice because “female genital mutilation and cutting is a violation of the basic rights of women and girls. It is a dangerous and irreversible procedure that negatively impacts the general health, child bearing capabilities and educational opportunities of girls and women,” said Carol Bellamy, executive director of the UNICEF on February 7 2005, the International Day of Zero Tolerance of FGM.”

Girls in African countries undergoing female genital mutilation are usually still very young – six years old – so that it means the decision to have it is in the hands of their parents. The parents possibly do that due to social pressure and the girls cannot say ‘NO’ towards their parents while in fact those girls are the ones who will suffer from some negative impacts caused by FGM.


Although the practice of FGM in Indonesia is not as ‘well-known’ as in Africa, we can still find it especially in rural areas despite the fact that the Indonesian government officially banned FGM in 2006. If in Africa female circumcision is considered as the climax of initiation before girls enter adulthood, what about in Indonesia? The article in this link said that there are three reasons why some foundations holding free circumcision events include female circumcision :

  • ·         It will stabilize her libido
  • ·         It will make a woman look more beautiful in the eyes of her husband
  • ·         It will balance her psychology

The first reason strengthens what women activists have said that the practice is strongly misogynistic. Inferior and weak men need to do something to ‘calm’ (or conquer?) women’s sexual drive. In order to make themselves sexually powerful, they must weaken women first. Besides doing this ‘physical thing’ they also create false true woman precept: a true woman must be libido-less.

The second reason is illogical since the criteria of being beautiful is different from one person to another. While the third reason is very wrong since FGM even can cause some negative impacts. FGM also can result in a lifetime trauma, moreover when done by not an expert and using non hygienic media.

The same article reported that female circumcision in Indonesia is less extreme than the kind practiced in other parts of the globe – Africa particularly. Despite some studies done on it informing that female circumcision in Indonesia is done by merely rubbing turmeric on the genitals or pricking the clitoris once with a needle to draw a symbolic drop of blood, the Population Council’s 2003 study said that 82  percent of Indonesian mothers who witnessed their daughters’ circumcision said that it involved ‘cutting’. Another article at this link  stated that “while the procedure in Indonesia is not as severe as in parts in Africa and involves cutting less flesh, it still poses a serious health concern.” 

“The fact is there is absolutely no medical value in circumcising girls. It is 100 percent the wrong thing to be doing,” said Laura Guarenti, an obstetrician and WHO’s medical officer for child and maternal health in Jakarta.

There is no medical value nor cultural tradition nor religious merit in female circumcision. The Indonesian government banned the practice in 2006. So, what caused the even more widely-found practice in society? Social unawareness! Ignorance! Misogyny! In order to make it safer, the effort proposed by Linda Gumilar, the Minister of Women’s Empowerment, to make the female circumcision practice medicalized and carried out by trained health personnel will make it sound misleadingly lawful.

Maria Ulfah Anshor – one women’s rights fighter – said, “I would advise not to circumcise your daughters at all. It women are circumcised, people believe they become more beautiful and not as wild and will make men more excited in bed. For women themselves, they don’t get any excitement at all.”


When male circumcision possibly has medical benefits and it is somewhat strongly encouraged from religious views – it is written in the book of Genesis – female circumcision has no medical benefits at all for women and it is not written either in any so-called holy book. The root of it is just misogyny that dates back from immemorial time. 

GL7 12.06 110612

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Irshad Manji: the controversial figure

Media statement by Irshad Manji - 10 May

Four years ago, I came to Indonesia and experienced a nation of tolerance, openness and pluralism. In my new book, I describe Indonesia as a model for the Muslim world.

Things have changed. Last night at LKiS community center, religious gangsters attacked about 150 citizens of Yogyakarta, as well as my team. My colleague, Emily Rees, was struck with a metal bar and had to be rushed to hospital. Her arm is now in a sling. Two other attendees sustained head injuries. I have spoken with them both and, by God's grace, they will recover.

But the reputation of the criminals should never recover: They hid behind masks and helmets while beating up ordinary people and destroying property. These men are cowards.

In sharp contrast, the courage of several citizens saved my own life. As the gangsters shouted, "Where is Manji?," citizens shielded my body with theirs. I am immeasurably grateful for, and humbled by, their bravery. They have shown that Indonesians can unite for human dignity.

Citizens have reported to me that their police and government are capitulating to the thugs. But the people need not capitulate. May all Indonesians take pride in their peaceful heroes -- and learn from them.

Irshad Manji Author, Allah, Liberty & Love and Director, Moral Courage Project, New York University

Four years ago. That means not so long ago. Indonesia was 'already' under the same president cum unsuccessful singer, SBY. :) 

So what has changed 'Indonesia'? 

Indeed we all know that tolerance -- especially tolerance among religions -- has been declining very badly in our country, the once-called a country with big tolerance among its citizens. Can I say it all started from the so-called civil war in Maluku by the end of nineties? Since then on, intolerance among religions has become worse and worse each year. The existence of the hardline Islam organizations have a very big influence and many people know that some hardline Islam organizations were even made by the government. 

The government plan to make a bigger civil war than just what happened in some regions, such as Maluku and Kalimantan? What for?

Coming back to Manji.

In fact, four years ago, Indonesia's intolerance to view differences was bad enough already. But still, according to Manji's statement, she was warmly welcome here at that time. Therefore, I am of opinion that perhaps I had better change my own question "what has changed Indonesia?" 

Indonesia's intolerance is still as bad as four years ago.

My own question slowly led me to another thought: Irshad Manji's sexual orientation has been popularized more than when she came here four years ago. The fact that there have been some communities that 'promote' homosexuality as one normal orientation just like heterosexuality -- such as ourvoice -- that has 'come out' must have a bigger role. The more 'campaign' done by these communities, the more rejection done by public who have been brainwashed that homosexuality is something against 'natural' law.

I am wondering who was behind those hardliners who did some violence toward Manji -- such as what happened in LKis Jogja; who paid them so that they did an action. (click this link ) Rumors said that those hardliners would do actions when they got paid.

And one very heart-breaking event for me was when even Gadjahmada University -- MY almamater --  cancelled the plan to have Manji talk about her book at that campus. (click this link )

Indeed, struggling for equality for everybody -- in this cace among heterosexual, homosexual, and asexual -- is still long way to go. Religions with their dogma as one 'legal' attacker of non heterosexuality will always be in use. 

C-net 21.41 130512

Some comments from my other blogsite which will be closed down December 1, 2012

martoart wrote on May 13
Indonesia's intolerance is still as bad as four years ago.
bukannya makin lebih buruk?
afemaleguest wrote on May 13
lebih buruk ya Kang?
dinantonia wrote on May 14
No religion and its dogma legalizes any kind of attack.

I dont agree with homosexuality, but I dont hate them.

Seneng dan setuju banget sama quote dr opini org ini:
" I do associate with homosexuals, and i try to tell them the truth of what i believe, and if they don’t accept, then to each his own. no love lost. But i would never treat one badly or dismiss one bc of it. I love everyone and treat them with respect."
afemaleguest wrote on May 14
Seneng dan setuju banget sama quote dr opini org ini:
" I do associate with homosexuals, and i try to tell them the truth of what i believe, and if they don’t accept, then to each his own. no love lost. But i would never treat one badly or dismiss one bc of it. I love everyone and treat them with respect."
opini siapa ini Dina? :)
nanaskuningkeci wrote on May 14
kayanya makin parah mba... dimana2 group itu bikin Indonesia jadi bukan negara pluralisme lagi... hiks
afemaleguest wrote on May 14
kayanya makin parah mba... dimana2 group itu bikin Indonesia jadi bukan negara pluralisme lagi... hiks
yes, you can say that again, Ranie T.T
onit wrote on May 17
by the way, only recently i liked irshad manji on facebook. why?

i knew her looong time ago when she published her 1st book in 2003. it was (as she personally admitted it) about anger. her anger towards attitudes of many muslim people she knew. to me, it was yet another anger expression (but honest!), so it was normal, not exceptional.

however, i just read excerpts from her latest book allah, liberty, love, which is available at within less than 10 years she has communicated with many muslims (especially female ones) throughout the world and she managed to build her aspirations based on her conversations with people. she has grown, matured.

i said "wow" so many times reading the excerpt, because it's what i had in my mind, too. only i've chosen a different path, as to me faith is a personal matter. she chose the courageous path, by connecting with many people in the world and labelled herself a reformist.

i'd like to get her book. after i read her full book, i'll write this in a review.
martoart wrote on May 17
onit said

i'd like to get her book.
Sila minta Nana linknya sist...
afemaleguest wrote on May 19
I have been on the move (alias kluyuran mulu) since Thursday, belum ketemu kompi atau lepi, so belum bisa kirim link ke Onit ^^
onit wrote on May 19
sip lah.. kan aku dah nemu di amazon, buat apa dikasih link lagi ;)
martoart wrote on May 19
onit said
sip lah.. kan aku dah nemu di amazon, buat apa dikasih link lagi ;)
gratis maksudnya..

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I don’t remember when the last time I prayed. :-P Perhaps since I realized that in my ‘old’ dictionary, the word ‘pray’ referred to ‘dictating to god to fulfil what I wanted via praying’, instead of ‘begging to god for god’s mercy to grant my pray’.  At this point I realized that I have converted to be an agnostic instead of “just” a secular. How long ago? I don’t remember.  but perhaps some posts related to “praying” will remind me myself.

So, because I stopped praying, does it mean that I never expect anything for my future? (do you agree that praying means we expect to get something good for our future and we ask god’s help to make it come true? Or in a more extreme point, we dictate god to grant it.)

Of course I still expect some (or perhaps many) good things for my future. But as people say, praying has a kind of ‘placebo effect’ (in Bahasa Indonesia, we call it ‘sugesti’). After praying, people feel like they have more strength to make their dreams come true. So? They try harder to reach their dreams after they pray.

Me? I skip the ‘praying’ stage. After having one expectation – let’s say – I directly jump to the following stage: do my best to make it come true. Isn’t our real effort the most important part?

However, since I ‘learned’ that in many cases our own expectation – especially when it is related to somebody else – sort of hurt us when it doesn’t come true, I have tried my best not to have lotsa expectations. Just live my life enough. Do what I must do. As many ‘spiritual’ people believe that what we have done towards other people in this universe, in fact, we do it to ourselves.

Meanwhile ...

A few weeks ago, something came up. This made me open my twitter account that I made perhaps in the middle 2010. But due to my twitter illiteracy, I hardly visited.   I started tweeting until I found some accounts of public figures that I thought would broaden my horizon in viewing this life. One of them was Ayu Utami whose book – Si Parasit Lajang – was always one of my most favorite books. And I always love reading her other books, from Saman, Larung, Bilangan Fu, and Manjali dan Cakrabirawa.

I don’t know her spiritual view, honestly. One thing for sure is of course I know she is against the male-dominated culture.

But frankly speaking after following her account on twitter, I found it surprising when the first time she tweeted something that was related to ‘pray’, although it was a simple one. For example, “#doapagi, lenturkanlah otot kami yang tegang” (#morningpray, make our stiff muscles bend and relax easily) “#doapagi, lumerkanlah lemak menggumpal ini” (#morningpray, reduce the fat in our bodies) until more serious one, such as “#doapagi, tajamkanlah pikiran kami dan lembutkanlah hati kami” (#morningpray, sharpen our brain and soften our heart).

Well, people can say that she can be my role model so out of nowhere, I started thinking what kind of ‘pray’ I could post in my twitter account.  My first one is like this: “#morningpray, wish my yummy cappuccino will brighten my day and the good rumor at school will come true”. Well, in fact it didn’t sound much different from my ‘usual’ status, such as “my darling perfecto cappuccino, please brighten my day”. Only, I did not necessarily consider it as a pray. 

Have you ever thought that the existence of social network – such as facebook – has made people more narcissistic? It happened to me too. So this ‘new’ idea about updating status using the term #morningpray gave me more ‘chances’ to attract my online buddies there. (ahh, excuses! )

Luckily, not long after that, when reading Ayu Utami’s latest novel “Cerita Cinta Enrico” – the so-called biographical novel of her ‘present’ husband, I found the answer of my own question about her spiritual view. Compared to Enrico who always thought that he was a non believer (but still thinking about ‘being sinful or not’ when having sex), Ayu was a believer. She was just against everything which was patriarchal, such as Indonesia’s regulation of marriage : man/husband is the leader and woman/wife is the homemaker.  The government is not supposed to interfere in a family’s business,

Me? Believing that all religions (or only Abrahamic religions? ) were products of patriarchal culture, I decided to be neutral.

So? Despite the fact that I claimed to be an agnostic, in my twitter account (which is synchronized to my r account) perhaps once in a blue moon, I will write #morningpray. But for sure, it is a far cry from dictating the so-called god.

GL7 14.04 200312

check this link and that one about praying
the Bahasa Indonesia version can be viewed here

Some comments I imported from my other blogsite which will be closed down on December 1, 2012

maddypunyacerita wrote on Mar 20
Interesting thought :))
afemaleguest wrote on Mar 20
thank you Maddy :)
bambangpriantono wrote on Mar 20
afemaleguest wrote on Mar 20
:) balik
srisariningdiyah wrote on Mar 20
orangjava wrote on Mar 20
afemaleguest wrote on Mar 20
orangjava said
sweet :)
srisariningdiyah wrote on Mar 20
afemaleguest wrote on Mar 20
aiiihhhh ... headshot nyaaa ^__^
rengganiez wrote on Mar 20
Keliatannya sejak menikah Ayu byk berubah :-D
afemaleguest wrote on Mar 20
Keliatannya sejak menikah Ayu byk berubah :-D
begitu ya? :)
rengganiez wrote on Mar 20
srisariningdiyah wrote on Mar 20
harusnya kamis kemarin pas aku siaran terakhir sebelum cuti, ini ayu utami yang aku wawancara, untuk bukunya yang ini... sayang dia telat dateng dan gak ada konfirmasi lagi tetep mau dateng apa engga, padahal dah aku kasih slot jam selanjutnya kalo emang mau, karna kebetulan kosong... hihihi padahal mau nanya2 yang aneh2 xixixixx
rembulanku wrote on Mar 20
doa yuk mbak, minta apa enake?
*make a list first* hehehehe
dinantonia wrote on Mar 22
i think we shud be praising, grateful and believing instead of asking when praying :)
mawarangel wrote on Mar 30
How your opini mba, when i "curhat" to God. I ask nothing, just want to membagi beban. Ketika teman yg paling aku percayai ternya melupakan aku... Is it a dictating also,,, :-(
afemaleguest wrote on Mar 30
of course not
you "just" curhat, right? not ask god to do something, let's say? :-D