Being a feminist is not about men hating or about taking what privileges men have without considering. It’s merely based on a simple logic that Women are also human beings, and despite how our bodies are created and functioning differently than men, we deserve to be treated the same as any other human beings on the face of the earth.
Living in patriarchal environment where the men takes control while the women does all the work, made me confused in a lot of different ways. And from this kind of environment, women are subsequently expected to double standards that has been tailored by the society.
As Indonesian people become consciously aware of the importance of education, parents push their children to get degrees as high as possible. As they urges the education degree (mostly bachelor level) among their children, parents tend to choose the major that they want their children to take and once again it’s not about the children’s interest, some parents want their children to take degrees which they deemed to have such prestige and honor in front of other people.
Such things are pressured so their daughters will have a good life in the future or at least have the kind of respect from the society. This kind of things are also prepared by the parents so that women could also get husbands that are the same educated level or in a higher social rank than they are.
Back in the olden days, women go to universities to get husbands, and leave school to marry them.
I am not saying that encouraging women to have a better education is bad, but some parents have different intentions and force such to their children including young women. Such things will leave young women frustrated and helpless.
A typical Indonesian women would be expected to finish school, find a job, and get married and have children. This doesn’t leave women to grow and explore life in a way that it is much more aspiring. It somehow has become such a routine that women tends to follow.
Indonesian women are also subjected to certain beauty standards that are beyond such to be attractive and attract men in order to get married to wealthier men. This kind of trend I call the Cinderella Syndrome. Indonesian men and the media promotes women with fair skin, who wears moderate clothing (if possible full clothing especially when you are a Muslim) and the ability to cook also takes care of the house. This kind of women are considered Marriageable. It is also a bonus plus if she is educated.
Thus this leaves the media and ads to appeal to the society and promote that:
- Fairer skin is better and if you have a darker skin you are considered ugly.
- Cooking is for women only, and a good wife is someone who can cook.
- Not just cooking, women are also expected to handle household and that it is the women’s job to clean the house.
These kind of projections that the media and the ads has subjected towards women leave the society to have such ridiculous standards.
When I went to my father’s hometown to visit families, a cousin of mine praised me because I was fairer than her sister and she mocked her she just because she was not fair enough. It surprises me that my cousin’s family admires fair people and believe that the standard of beauty is fairness. They also tried and give in to a lot of whitening creams that somehow (I could see) are ruining their faces.
A women who can cook are believed to be marriageable. Such conclusion came up to me because a lot of men who approached me expected me to cook for them if eventually I become their wife. And when they know I chose not to cook, they tend to mock me and eventually leave me.
And also women are expected to do household chores without even considering to divide it equally. One time I was hanging out with my friends in a mosque in Jakarta, one of the guys spilled a glass of coffee and they expected me to clean up after them, I refuse to clean up. It was their mistake why should I clean up after them. Then one of the girls voluntarily wipe out the spill and the guys praised her as a future marriageable women.
A lot of standards that has been set unequally towards women, leaves the women who can’t live up to those standards being labeled as bad and is not someone worth marrying of.
Though I must say these kind of standards are mostly being set upon society coming from the middle to lower class. Some high class profiles have set a lot of different standards ranging from education, social ranks to physical features.
As the society grow progressive, a lot of women these days are being more into themselves than following such standards. But these kind of women are mostly found in Jakarta, mostly in communities where people stay true to themselves and are free from being subjected to such labels.
The idea of women being liberated from such standards is not yet embraced by society. A lot of women decided to stay low due to the religious culture within the environment as it deemed that liberated women are considered to be bad, evil and not worth it. A lot of women still care about the family’s honor as most of them lives with their parents.
As on the other hand men who grew up in a family where the father is the breadwinner tends to look for women in these standards.
While men who see the struggle that their mother work through to keep them in school could understand that women deserves equality and are willing to work side by side.
This cycle keeps going on and moreover the term feminism is not nationally being accepted and empowered by the media. Instead the media keeps pushing that women should be in those standards if they want to be happy and have a great husband.
And finally women are not encouraged or given the space to grow, find their true own identity and happiness and instead let the society define for them.