Friday, March 31, 2006

Emerson says ...

Some favorite quotes of mine from Ralph Waldo Emerson, an outstanding American thinker in the nineteenth century.

Ø The foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds
Ø To be great is to be misunderstood
Ø To believe your own thought, to believe what is true for you in your private heart, is true for all men, that is genius
Ø Truth is handsomer than the affection of love
Ø You think me a child of my circumstance, I make my circumstance, let any thought or motive of mine be different from that they are, the difference will transform my condition and economy.

What is normal?

Almost two years ago, a friend introduced me to a girl (her initial was A), around 21 years old at that time, who admitted to me that she is a lesbian. She lived in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, located around one hour by plane from my hometown, Semarang. I didn’t get a lot of information though why she BECAME a lesbian. She had a boyfriend at that time, enjoyed her sexual life with him, but once she tried to have sex with the same sex, a girl, she enjoyed it more. That was the only thing she told me.
Some months before that, I had a chat with a twenty-four-year old girl (her initial was R) who said to me that she was also a lesbian. She lived quite far from my hometown, a town called Gorontalo, a much smaller town than Semarang, located in Sulawesi, one big island in Indonesia. She told me that she disliked men coz most men she knew were betrayer, they did violence toward her, and also girls around her that made her sick of men. She said, “Girls are more gentle, loyal, loving, and caring. That’s why I love to be with girls more than with boys.” I told her that I am not a lesbian, but I agreed with her that we, women, can survive without men, live single and be happy.
Now, let’s go back to my twenty-one-year-old friend. When A asked me whether I was also a lesbian, I told her, “I am a heterosexual. Well, until now I am a hetero, dunno later. Everything changes in this world, right? Though I am a hetero, I never think that other people who happen to be a bisexual or a homosexual is abnormal.”
Talking about normal and abnormal, I remembered one day in 2003, in a classroom, when the guest lecturer from New York in my college asked us, “So, how are you today?” A classmate answered, “Everything is normal, sir.” He seemed astonished with that answer. “Normal?” he asked. “Normal from whose perspective?” he continued asking.
His question suddenly made me think how subjective was in fact the word “normal”. From whose perspective? Is there anything that is really from someone or a group of people’s perspective? I also realized how so far people always follow what majority says as a “normal” thing. I started to question that coz as a woman, in that year, I started to get to know feminism, and how I hated to admit that as a woman, someone must be feminine, womanly, motherly, loving, caring, weak, fragile, dependent, bla bla bla, and some other adjectives to follow society’s stereotypes of “good” women, including hetero, if she wants to be considered “normal”. Society forcefully insists women to follow those stereotypes. And in Indonesia, there is one thing to add, a “true” woman is a woman who can be pregnant and has babies. If not? YOU ARE NOT A WOMAN. And this strong influence in society really makes inferior women feel something wrong with them when they “cannot give babies” to their husbands.
After being feminist, I realized how cruel people are that determine what is normal and what is not and then force other people to believe in them.
What is normal?
When a classmate found me reading Michel Foucault’s book entitled The History of Sexuality, he said, “Ah, you are reading Foucault’s book? He is a homo, of course in his book you will find his justification that being a homo is NORMAL.” Is he, then, wrong only coz he doesn’t follow the majority so that he cannot describe himself as someone normal?
Indeed, I agree when people say that we are what we read.
And the majority, who has been indoctrinated for centuries that the only normal sexuality is heterosexual, then has right to judge people who are not hetero as abnormal people? Who gives the majority right to determine that something is normal and abnormal?
Among religious people, they will believe that the only normal is being religious. Those who are non-believer are not normal
Among atheist, they will believe that those religious people are just foolish, meaning, not normal.
Before being a feminist, coz I came from a very strict religious family, I used to think such a thing too; that normal is to be a believer; that normal is to be a hetero, that normal is for women to be feminine, motherly, womanly, submissive, bla bla bla …; that normal is someone must get married to live happy in this life, and many other things that have been indoctrinated to me by my teachers, parents, neighbors, society.
We are what we have been indoctrinated, aren’t we?
And then, where is our common sense? Can’t we use it to think again and again when we see new phenomena?
I love Emerson’s wise saying, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
Where is our empathy, then, when we don’t want to understand people who have different way of thinking from ours? Only coz they don’t seem normal in our eyes; not normal from the way we have been indoctrinated?
I remember one time in 2003 when reading a book Memberi Suara pada yang Bisu (Give voice to those who are dumb) written by Dede Oetomo, the first man in Indonesia who daringly had the word GAY written in his identity card under column “sex”. He wrote about his own struggle to avoid his own natural call as a gay, only coz gay was considered as a disease, abnormal, sin. He really felt inferior with his being “abnormal” when he was teenager. When, at last, he realized that his being gay was also something gifted by God, he gave in. He no longer forced himself to be “normal” by being attracted to women. if he understands that being a hetero is normal for other people (how he couldn’t understand either why his teenaged male friends were more attracted to girls while he himself was more attracted to boys.) Are we empathetic enough to say that Dede doesn’t have right to judge other people as abnormal coz they are attracted to opposite sex only coz we belong to the majority? If that is so, we have become tyrant, don’t we?
Reading Dede’s book, that coincidently happened together when I was gathering information about feminism, and my claiming myself as a feminist, made me open my eyes, that being a gay can be something gifted too, and we must not easily judge people who happen to be gay as abnormal.
(How I also hate to think that people consider me as abnormal only coz I think that women are not always supposed to be feminine, motherly, womanly, weak, hetero, dependent, fragile, submissive, bla bla bla …)
When reading a book entitled Transseksualisme, about a woman who felt trapped in a wrong body coz inside her heart she didn’t think that she is a woman, but a man, and how she also hated to be looked at by people strangely, I realized more that the majority society has done a crime to those people who feel that they were born as gay, as transgender, coz easily judge them as people who don’t want to accept the destiny (that they were born as male or female so that their sexual orientation is supposed to be to their opposite sex, and not to the same sex; that they were born as male or female and why the hell they want to do sexual operation so that they do not feel trapped in a wrong body any longer, etc.)
I am lucky enough to be born having female body and feeling that I am really a woman. I am a straight person (it refers to the fact that until now most people still think that to be straight is the only normal sexuality). I have one daughter (it refers to cruel Indonesian belief that a true woman is a woman who can be pregnant and deliver a baby). However, I’m not that lucky coz of my belief that a woman is an individual too so that I can claim that my body and my mind belong to me (it refers to majority belief that a woman belongs to her husband so that her body and her mind belong to her husband too, let her husband decide what is good or bad for her.) I am not that lucky coz I don’t really believe that marriage is the only ultimate goal to reach happiness (it refers to Indonesian marriage-oriented society where many people believe that happiness only can be reached by marrying someone. How in Indonesia many women sacrifice their lives and happiness to live in a loveless marriage and having an emotional husband who often does violence or probably willing to be the second, third, or nth wife only because they want to be considered normal and happy by getting married.)
Any comment friends? You are mostly welcome.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A romantic feminist => it's me

Well, at first when opening this blog, I planned only to post some articles of mine related to my being feminist.
However, today, suddenly I got tempted to post some love poems of mine here too. Anyway, besides a feminist, I am also romantic. :)
FYI, a good friend of mine said that I am a foolishly loyal lover. Read it carefully, A FOOLISHLY LOYAL LOVER. Do you understand that? Ups ... :D
She knew me for the first time in 1999. I was not a feminist yet at that time, just a conventional woman :P She saw me as a very loyal lover to my then online lover of mine from California.
Then, she moved out of town in 2003 while I myself continued my study in "student city" of Indonesia, Yogyakarta. This study of mine changed me to be a feminist. (How I love my study very much!)
Living in two different cities, with our respective busy activities, indeed, made us not easy to meet and talk. Instead, we, (mostly I) sent letters to each other, due to her internet illiteracy. :P And she was astonished to know that I have become a new creature--A FEMINIST. She barely recognized me that I am Nana she used to know closely. :)
However, when I told her that a guy made me fall in love, and I let her read some love emails I sent to this lover of mine (imagine => I printed my love emails to my lover, and sent her the printout so that she could follow my life here, :D, I don't need to write her more letters only to tell her what has happened to me). And she said, "I am wondering why you have changed from a conventional Nana to be a feminist, but you dont change from a loyal lover to be, well, to be not loyal lover?" LOL.
I never answered that question but saying, "You know my nature, I am a loyal lover." :P
Well, I suppose, the answer is this.
I grew up in a very religious Muslim family. I was indoctrinated that women are number two after men; that women's body is the source of sin therefore women must cover all their body; that more women go to hell than men coz women are sinful, that women can be the cause of men's fall, bla bla bla ...
As a rebellious person, I was very sad to know that. But I didn't think that I had power to "oppose" it. I assumed that THAT IS WHAT AL-QURAN SAID, meaning that is really from God.
However, after knowing feminism ideology, and also some knowledge I got from my master's degree study, I knew the answer. That is not really from God, however, the MISINTERPRETATION done by selfish men, I started to rebel. I HAVE FOUND THE ANSWER of the questions I asked myself since I was a kid!!!
And as my being loyal lover, well, perhaps it is indeed my nature. :DD
and coz for that good friend of mine being loyal is foolish, LOL, she added the word "foolishly". In her yes, I am really a foolishly loyal lover. :DD
Goodness, I don't mind it anyway.

Monday, March 20, 2006


The following short conversation happened between my fourteen-year-old daughter and me.
Angie: Mama, I heard that in China and Russia there is no rich people? Everybody’s financial condition is average?
Nana: Yes, honey. They apply socialist belief proposed by some socialist thinkers, like Karl Marx. The government has policy to limit the riches of the people, not very rich people, nor very poor people.
Angie: Don’t you think it is nicer there than in Indonesia, Mama?
Nana: (sigh) Well, honey, probably it is nicer there for us, who are not rich. The rich people in our country will have different opinion, I am sure.

The following short conversation happened between two colleagues of mine.
Lucky: See the condition in Indonesia nowadays. Everything is messy. Many children suffer from bad nutrition, the price of gasoline soars crazily, it results in poor people almost cannot afford to buy daily needs, violence happens here and there. Don’t you think that the condition under Soeharto era was much more comfortable?
Annie: Well, I suppose the condition under Soekarno was much better than Soeharto. Everybody was poor. (Well, she referred to the accusation that Soekarno was the protector of Communist Party. Communist policy is not much different from Socialist that everybody is not allowed to be very rich coz it will engender social gap. Social gap will cause social unrest. Social unrest will result in the down of the government.)
Some days ago, when I got flat tyre, I took my motorcycle to a garage. I saw an old man driving a pedicab. I sighed. Such an old man is supposed to enjoy his old age by staying at home, watching his grandchildren grow up. But recently after the soaring price of gasoline in Indonesia, nobody hasn’t complained about the price of daily needs. Some people even cannot buy rice to eat. I believe this old man still has to work hard in his old age to make his ends meet. Sometimes perhaps he will only get Rp. 10000,00 (around US$ 1) per day.
At the same time, I remembered an ex private student of mine who happened to have a very rich husband. She treated me dinner several times some months ago. For one dinner, she had to spend Rp. 300000,00 (around US$ 30) for both of us.
What an irony.
And Indonesian government is even busier to take care of regulation to arrange how women should dress, walk, and move in public rather than to think the way out how to help the needy, to reduce the financial gap among its citizens.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Family Name

Some weeks ago when substituting a friend to teach her class, I interviewed the students how many children their parents have. Two students attracted me coz they said that their parents have five children. In this era, after the success of family planning program, to have children more than three is considered a big family. The funny thing is one student said that the four children were boys and the youngest was a girl; while the other student was contradictory, the four children were girls, and the youngest was a boy.

Well, one proof of the success of family planning program in Indonesia, besides that people now have a big tendency to have only two and maximally three children in one family, regardless the sex, people do not really mind whether they only have daughters or sons. This is especially in Java island, the most populated island in Indonesia. :) FYI, Javanese people do not use family name behind their name. Although, well in the case I wrote in the above paragraph, it is not really so. Jokingly, I talked to the students that their parents wouldn’t stop “producing” babies before they got the baby they wanted, a boy or a girl. :) To some “old-fashioned” people, I assume that people still want to have children with the two sexes, male and female. :)
However, I still remember some years ago, I interviewed a student who is from Batak, an ethnic group in
Indonesia where the people use family names behind their names. To Batak people, having a baby boy is important, to continue the family name coz after getting married, a woman no longer uses her own family name from her father, but uses the family name from her husband. This absolutely creates a lot of gender-biased problems. For example, a woman is not treated well only coz she cannot give the husband a baby boy; or a man feels that he deserves to have another wife only to have a baby boy; a baby girl is not treated as well as a baby boy coz this baby girl later on cannot pass on the family name to the grandchildren.

I told this student that nowadays women could keep their family name when they want it after they get married. They do not always have to leave their family name behind and use the family name from their husbands instead. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) 16:1g stated that women have equal right with men to choose a family name, be it the family name they got from their parents (either the father or the mother), or from their husband.

This convention guarantees a family name will not disappear although a family doesn’t have a son. With this, a woman will not be forced to “produce” a lot of babies before she can “give” a baby son to her husband only to pass on the family name to his offspring.

Indonesia is one of many countries that has ratified this convention. (Source: Rights of Women: A Guide to the Most Important United Nations Treaties on Women’s Human Rights, translated into Bahasa Indonesia in 2001 published by Yayasan Jurnal Perempuan).

Women writers

Dedication of the Cook
Anna Wickham
If any ask why there’s no great She-Poet,
Let him come live with me, and he will know it:
If I’d indite an ode or mend a sonnet,
I must go choose a dish or tie a bonnet,
For she who serves in forced virginity
Since I am wedded will not leave me free;
And those new flowers my garden is so rich in
Must die for clammy odors of my kitchen.

We all know that one good impact of the second wave of women’s movement in 1960s is the “awakening” of women writers. Many literary works written by women writers in the previous decades and centuries have been dug out again and republished so that they can be read again by the following generation of readers. Some names ‘resurrected’ by this women’s movement, for example, are Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin, Anna Wickham, etc. Those names, then, accompanied some other women writers who have been long acknowledged before, such as Jane Austen, George Eliot, Emily Dickinson, etc.
As one proof that women critics are serious to boost women’s works is the publication of The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar as the company of The Norton Anthology of American Literature, The Norton Anthology of English Literature, and some other anthologies published by W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
It is indeed undeniable that the impact of women’s movement is more and more women have career outside home, not just become the angel of the house, or the doll of the house. More and more women are economically independent. They can choose any profession they are attracted to do, and not just be a homemaker, doing household chores, ranging from cooking, sewing, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, until serving the husband. They have more time to do anything they like.
If this is related to the first stanza of Wickham’s poem above, it is understandable why in the past women couldn’t become a great poet, such as William Wordsworth from England, or Walt Whitman from America; couldn’t become a great dramatist such as William Shakespeare. In the past, most women were busy doing the “burden” given to their shoulder, such taking care of their children to prepare them as the good following generation to lead the country, cooking the best food coz the children needed good nutrition, taking care of their husband who were busy doing their business outside home. How could they have time to write good poems or plays or novels? We know that great women writers such as George Eliot, the Bronte’s sisters, and Emily Dickinson were never married during their lifetime.
In this twenty first century, where writing is no longer exclusively “occupied” by men, I am pretty sure that there will be more and more women writers born. In her A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf stated that “Books continue each other.” There will be no more “mainstream” literature defined by men only. No more women need to use male pseudonym (just like George Eliot or the Bronte’s sisters) only to make their writings accepted by society.
For myself, thanks to blog technology that has made me a writer. :)

Wednesday, March 8, 2006


After not joining any fitness and aerobics center for about four years, two days ago I reregistered myself to the fitness center I used to be the member in 2000-2002. Some reasons why I do it again; first, in my age approaching forty years, I believe that I really have to take care of my health more seriously than before. No doctor doesn’t suggest to do exercise to maintain health, do you agree? Second, of course I want to slim down my body again after my weight rose till more than 6 kilograms since I left this fitness center around four years ago. Well, it is not really scary number, is it? Only six kilograms. However, coz I am not really tall, that number shows a very significance impact on my body. Besides, the fat all over my body really made me feel uncomfortable to move, and of course also to look. LOL. I cannot wear my old clothes either. My jeans number 27 are idle now, inside the wardrobe. J I must admit that my busy schedule for studying in my Master’s Degree really made me not able to maintain my “healthy habit” to do exercise crazily. I am not an athlete but during those two years, 2000-2002 I could do aerobics or swim or fitness seven times a week. With a lot of assignments to read books, to make papers, to prepare some presentations I really couldn’t spare time to go swimming regularly. Moreover, I still had classes to teach, to augment my income, to make my ends meet, frankly speaking. :-D

Well, here I am, a member of fitness center again. I must say that I always feel reborn with my study; from a conventional woman with her “old-fashioned” way of thinking to be a radical feminist, a real deconstruct. In the past (read à before getting to know feminism ideology) I never felt ridiculous to try to follow the idea standard constructed by society (that a woman must be slim, pretty, weak, ladylike, feminine, smell good, LOL, graceful, just like those women in The Stepford Wives movie to make men “fresh” to see us, LOL, to attract their attention).

On the very first day I joined the aerobics again, I asked myself whether I did it to make my body healthy or in fact, I just want to conform to the social norm that a woman is supposed to be like what I have mentioned above? Well, I must be honest to myself. LOL. I looked at the other members of the fitness center. Some are around my age, I suppose, some are older, and many others are younger than I am. I have never asked them whether they join it to slim down their body for health reason or for appearance reason, to make men attracted to see them. LOL.

Well, if I relate it to the second wave of feminist movement in the 1960s America, most feminists encouraged women to really “leave” their previous “place”, home—with its cooking and doing laundry activities. They encouraged women not to look feminine. To be a homemaker was a despised thing to do for feminists in this era. It means, don’t try to follow those social norms that a woman was supposed to be gentle, weak, slim, pretty, wearing dress, graceful, etc. A “modern” American woman was supposed to look like men, wearing suit with trousers, bowtie, not dealing with household chores, and worked outside home professionally. And like men too, women were not supposed to be worried about the fat around their body. :-D They didn’t need to bother their outer appearance.

It does sound ridiculous now. A woman is supposed to have freedom to choose, right? They are free to decide whether they want to (still) look feminine, ladylike while at the same time pursue career outside. Or a woman is free to choose to stay home, taking care of children and husband, doing household chores without losing their “identity” as modern women. As known in multicultural feminism, in some ethnic groups, to be a homemaker is a luxury thing that not all women can get. For them, to be “modern” is to live idly at home while their husbands work to support their needs.

The appearance of four leading characters of serials The Sex and the City is the emergence of the modern feminists by the end of twentieth century. Different from their predecessors around four decades before, Carrie Bradshaw and her three good friends offered a new lifestyle. They are economically independent. They are hard-working women with very good career outside home. And they still look feminine.

Well, thinking about this, I became a bit relieved. LOL. Why should I care for this trivial thing? I joined the fitness center again to keep my body healthy, or merely to slim down my body to look more attractive. LOL. I will not lose my being feminist only by slimming down my body, right? LOL. Just take the positive side. If I can slim down my body, I can wear my “old” clothes that I have kept in the wardrobe for some time coz they no longer fit me. :-D

(Oh Nana, please be more mature? LOL.)

Nosy Culture ...

Some days ago, I had a talk with a good friend. We really feel fed up with the “nosy” nature of Javanese culture, or probably Indonesian culture. To see single people, we tend to ask them, “So, when will you end your living single? It is really unhappy to live single, isn’t it?” INDEED, it is not easy to live single in a marriage-oriented society like in Indonesia. Like it or not, if you are still single, moreover if you are more than thirty years old, people will besiege you that question. It doesn’t matter whether in fact you yourself don’t feel bothered with that. Your living single doesn’t bother you. Those people with that question do, though. Right?
After at last you get married, the following question asked to you is, “So, when will the baby come to your life? Marriage is absolutely not perfect without having any kid.” When you have been married for some years and no kids yet, those people will look at you pitifully. This will make you feel that there is something wrong with your life. I must admit that many people, especially who are already married, want to have babies—either to continue their generation, or to make them considered “complete” by society, or many other reasons. And as we all know not all people are fortunate to be able to have babies. Don’t people in our society realize that the question “When will you have a baby?” asked to those ‘unfortunate’ people even will make them feel bothered and more miserable? Where is our empathy?
After you have one baby, the following question is, “So, when will he/she have a younger sibling? Having one baby only is not enough, of course. You will make your baby lonely later.” And I think such a question is not asked to show courtesy, but to some extent, I come to the conclusion that it is really annoying coz interfering our business. It is not easy to have a baby/kid. We need much money to raise one with good nutritious food, good clothes, and the most important thing is good education to prepare his/her future. It is not cheap, is it?
After having more than one baby, perhaps people are not nosy anymore.
My good friend and I, in fact, were suspicious why they stop being nosy? Perhaps they think, “Gotcha!!! Now you share similar problems with me! It is not easy to live with a spouse and children. We’ve got to work hard to make ends meet. We’ve got to take care of our children so that they will grow up as “good” kids so that we will be considered as “successful parents”. Welcome to the real world!”
Why don’t we just care our own business and let other people live in peace with their choice? People are free to choose to live single, and be happy with it. Or to live with their spouse without any kid, and be happy with it.
Mind your own matter.

Unfair Law ...

“Interpretasi hukum perkawinan yang timpang dalam UU perkawinan di Indonesia yang menyebutkan bahwa perempuan adalah ibu rumah tangga dan bukan pencari nafkah berimbas pada aturan ketenagakerjaan. Akibatnya perempuan dianggap hanya pencari nafkah tambahan, kerap menerima upah lebih rendah dari rekannya laki-laki dan tidak mendapat tunjangan.” (Jurnal Perempuan no 42 hal. 5)

(“Law of marriage in Indonesia states that women are housewife and not breadwinner. This results in the regulation of manpower matters where women are only considered as spare breadwinner, therefore they deserve to get paid lower than their fellow man workmates and not get the same fringe benefits.” Women Journal no 42 page 5)

This afternoon when discussing some questions about men’s and women’s jobs with my Intermediate 3 students, I found out how those teenagers have “ideal” world of equal pay for equal work. One question to be discussed was, “Do men get paid better than women?” None of them answered “yes” with almost similar reasons, “It depends on their skill, capability, experience, education.”
“That’s lovely, my dear students,” was my response. However, I want them to open their eyes that it is still utopia in many companies in Indonesia. What is the main reason? I think I can refer to my quotation above. Law of marriage in Indonesia still considers women only as homemakers, not supposed to be breadwinner. This law, then, is made use by many companies to feel deserved to give women lower salary than men coz “they are not supposed to be responsible with household necessities. Their husbands are.” How about for single women? single mothers? Or those wives whose husbands are unemployed? Or whose husbands are not responsible to provide their daily needs? Do those companies care for these women?
It is true that the reason for those women to work is money. To survive, people need money. When those women realize that they don’t get paid fairly (only coz of different sex), they cannot complain because if they complain, they will get fired. It is easy for the company to look for new employees due to the high rate of unemployment in Indonesia. Therefore, those women stay to work there, with unfair salary. Not much can be done so far for the betterment for women.
If those women are lucky to get fair amount of salary with their male counterpart, there is still one thing that will make women get lower amount. TAX! The regulation for paying salary tax determines that when a man is married, he will pay less tax. When he is married and has some children, he will even pay lesser tax. How about women? No matter whether a woman is married or not, having kid or not, this particular woman is still considered single. A married woman who has three children, let’s say, will pay tax as high as those single women!
Encouragingly, I talked to my female students, “Well, nowadays Non Government Organizations for women are still struggling to propose a fairer regulation in tax for women. Hopefully, later on when you graduate from college, you will be able to enjoy a more free gender-biased manpower matters so that you will not suffer from this unfairness.”

Sucking Commercials

Living in Indonesia with so many commercials on media about what women are supposed to do to attract men, how to be considered “true women”, it is practically difficult for women to get rid of themselves from those bombardments. No matter we often hear wise statement that inner beauty is more important than just physical things. But, how many women are confident to be different? How many women are confident to think that living single is okay? To think that having children is not the sole goal to get married? To think that having plump bodies are attractive too? To think that pursuing career and study as high as we can is fine? Why should we limit ourselves only coz women are already married so that we must give the first priority to pursue career and study only to men? Should we, as women, stay home and deal with only “cooking, washing, and serving in bed” after getting married?
I very seldom watch TV coz I always find a lot of commercials ridiculous. I really don’t have a heart to see women—my folks—only have roles as a homemaker, as a cook, or attract the opposite sex only with their “long, straight, shiny hair” (the typical of beautiful hair in Indonesia nowadays) or with “white and spotless complexion” or make their husbands love them coz those women “provide the best menu at home” or “save money coz using some certain products” (don’t forget those women get their money from their husbands! That’s why they deserve to be praised when they can save money.)
If I happen to sit before a television when having meals with my only daughter, I cannot stop commenting until she complained, “Mama, will you stop commenting?” My response was, “Oh honey, I just hope that you will not grow with those silly ideas planted on your mind by those ridiculous commercials that you will attract boys only with your hair or complexion. I’d prefer you to attract guys with your brain, with your good nature.”
Again, do I sound a judgmental person again, thinking that people who value beautiful hair and complexion are just brainless? Ups … :no:

Internet ...

It is really undeniable that internet technology has a lot of impacts in our life. The world that used to seem very wide, now seems much smaller. We can hear what has just happened in the other side of the world from where we live by reading many latest news we can access via internet every second. America is no longer so far away there since we can communicate with our relatives, family members, or friends living there with cheap media and very quickly via emailing or chatting.
I remember in 1999 my then online boyfriend said to me how he thanked with this sophisticated technology coz we met “virtually” everyday without spending much money—he came to Indonesia, or I went to America. We could adjust each other more comfortably too. However, one thing I remember his complaint was that he often felt irritated when chatting with many Indonesian girls coz they talked about sex most of the time. He said, “I suppose it’s all coz in Indonesia, sex is considered taboo to talk about openly. When someone talks about sex, people will easily judge him/her as “bad person”. Parents do not talk about sex with their children coz it is taboo. Their children then do not know where to find out information about sex. What happens next? Those teenagers will come to, perhaps, irresponsible resource, probably blue movies, porn magazines, and, Internet. Without right guidance, those teenagers will even get wrong information about sex. Honestly, I often feel fed up when chatting with Indonesian girls and they ask me about sex. It is really boring. You see? Before this, I always thought that Indonesia is a country based on religious teachings—especially Islam coz I know that the majority of Indonesian people are Muslim. See? Those young female chatters will even give bad impression on Indonesia. bla bla bla …” I don’t remember what else he said.
After being away from chatting world for about three years, I went back to IRC in 2004 during my spare time when writing thesis. One thing shocked me. It seemed to me that some local channels became a place where people were looking for boys/girls for dates. Besides, there was a tendency to generalize all chatters to do the same thing, to look for short time dates, or one-night-stand dates. Consequently, the impression that cyber cafes are places to do filthy/immoral/indecent activities cannot be avoided. People then forget that there are INDEED many other advantages people can get via this so-called sophisticated technology. Chatting is not the only facility people can make use of when accessing internet. However, I can see that there is generalization for all cyber cafes customers—all are chatters looking for HOT DATES.
It’s all based on my own experience. In Yogya, the city where I pursued my Master’s Degree, I often went online in the café belonging to UGM. All customers were UGM students, of course. They went online, I believe, mostly was for their study, browsing data to help them do their assignments, though I am sure that many also had a chat. Nothing wrong with that. many reasons why people go chatting. My own reason at that time why I resumed chatting was I felt bored browsing data, reading them. Chatting was one fun activity for me.
After I went back to my hometown, Semarang, I resumed my habit, to go online at cyber cafes. Since November 2005, I have found a new “hobby”—blogging! This is my main reason why I often go online at cyber cafes, besides to check my mailboxes. I can spend hours to post articles in my blogs, to do some editing in the setting, or design, or configuration, to read my friends’ posts, write comments on their writings, etc. This is really exciting for me.
However, one thing bothered me. I just realized that some people I come across at the café look at me with “uninterpretable” look for me. The friendly parking man suddenly became so annoying to me when last Saturday he greeted me, “Go chatting mbak? No day without chatting for you, right? Do you need me to accompany you?” when I looked into his eyes, I saw an abusive look to me. Shit. Inside the café, there was one clerk looking at me with the same eyesight too, abusive. Shit. Shit.
It reminded me of my experience more than half a year ago when going on a bus, I read a book with not conspicuous title on the cover “Seksualitas”, a man sitting next to me gave me an abusive look too.
I don’t show any inviting body language. I don’t wear any invitingly “open” clothes. (FYI, mostly everywhere I go, I wear my long black dress, with black blazer, really covering my body.) What the hell made those guys gave me abusive look? Coz I was reading a book entitled “Seksualitas” without knowing what kinds of articles inside it? Coz I often go online in the cyber café and they consider me to look for HOT DATES without knowing what in fact I am doing inside?
I am wondering why we Indonesian people have disgraced ourselves by giving impression that internet is SOLELY related to filthy thing (read  sex)?
One thing I forgot to say, this abusive-look-thing didn’t happen to me during my stay in Yogya. Or was I too indifferent?

Thursday, March 2, 2006


"Till I loved, I never lived--Enough." (Emily Dickinson)

How powerful is love in someone's life? To make someone feel not alive yet before loving someone? Being alive is not just a matter of being born in this mortal world, taking a breath, doing some activities, bla bla bla ... but one thing must be done--loving.
Well, I myself talked to my someone special that I will never ever be able to write a single poem if I am not in love. I, out of the blue, become a poet when in love.
My curiosity, is, is there any love that will not make us broken hearted?
Wise people say that there must be two contradictory things in something, to follow natural law about binary opposition? Love makes people happy in one certain time, and unhappy in another time. Love gives people sweet memories when they spend their precious time with the one they love, and bitter memories when they have to be away from the loved one.
When Ebit G. Ade said in his song, "Apakah ada bedanya, ketika kita bertemu, dengan saat kita berpisah, sama-sama nikmat, tinggal bagaimana kita menghayati..." No unhappiness ... no bitterness ... though we are away from the one we love. Or we just deceive ourselves by saying, "It's ok to be away from you, darling, coz I already have you on my mind, in my heart and my soul." Who is willing to be away from the one they love, I am wondering ...
I assume that I must agree that love is so powerful in someone's life.
But, to agree with what Emily Dickinson said ... well ... ... ...

The Betrayal

Is there any other more equal in betrayal than to revenge it by doing betrayal to the betrayer back?
“I trust men more than women in keeping secret. As far as I experience in my life, women have tendency to betray people, including their own good friend. They do that especially when they want to secure their own position in one case.”
A good friend of mine—a woman—said such a thing to me last night when I confided in her that a friend just betrayed me. I was a bit shocked when hearing it. How I always hate sexist opinion like this. Nevertheless, then I found the answer why she opined like that. I responded, “Well, living in this patriarchal culture, women were taught to consider other women as their competitors. For example, living in marriage-oriented society, women (especially) were indoctrinated that to be considered happy and “normal”, they must get married. In a heterosexual society, women must chase men to be their partners. It is unavoidable, then, if women consider other women as competitors. And in so doing, sometimes they cannot avoid the tendency to betray other women, for their own sake.
I was born in a very religious Muslim family where I was brought up viewing man-woman relationship is not good, only after “the right time has come.” I cannot avoid feeling uncomfortable to have guys as good friends. This made me feel more comfortable to make friend with women. It is different from my good friend who proposed that idea above. She has made friend with both boys and girls. Does it, then, make her know men’s characteristics than me?
Since I was a little, I have been taught to resign myself when having dispute, to have a quiet life. Of course I don’t have a heart to think that women—my folk—have greater tendency to do betrayal.
And I have been indoctrinated that if we never do bad things to others, we will not find who do bad things to us either. If we always do good things to others, we will get good ones too from other people. Well, perhaps it is similar to “karma” in Buddhist.
Therefore, when a good friend—who once claimed me as her soul mate, as her place to confide in because I always understand her—betrayed me, I don’t have any idea how she could do such a nasty thing to me? I have never done bad things to her. (Or is it only my opinion, because in fact, I have once hurt her without my awareness?)
How tired and difficult it is to repress this pain and anger, and I realize how I really want to take revenge to her, to betray her directly, and not wait for “karma” or God to do it for me.
Ah …


Do you believe in Karma?
Well, as a Muslim, I don’t think I remember if I was taught to believe in karma. (I refer to my elementary school years where I studied in an Islamic school. I don’t remember if karma exists in Islam.) I only remember that if we do “good” to others, God will give us the luxury of heaven later. On the contrary, if we do “bad” to others, of course we will go to hell.
But, in the reality, many people believe in karma. Perhaps coz heaven and hell are still too “far” out there, people need to “see” something real. For example, when a good friend of mine cheated her hubby by having a boyfriend, she told me that she would just understand if later on her hubby also has a girlfriend. She only expected that her hubby told her the truth when it really happens. I don’t know why.
When a woman scolded me last year coz I messaged her hubby, she said, “Don’t you believe in karma? You do this to me, another woman will do this to your hubby.” Frankly speaking, I didn’t really give a damn on what she said to me coz I didn’t really mind if that happens. It is fair, isn’t it? LOL. I even thought, “If karma really exists, it will not happen to me like what she said, but it even will come to her hubby. Who can guarantee that one day she will not cheat her hubby? LOL. Naughty me, eh? LOL. But, again, who will guarantee that something will happen or something will not happen in the future?
In the beginning of January this year, I talked about this karma thing to another friend of mine. Well, FYI, she told me that she is a Buddhist though she is also a churchgoer, to respect her Christian hubby. As a Buddhist, of course she believes in karma. I “shot” her by saying, “If you cheat your hubby by having dates with those guys, the karma is, your hubby also does the same thing, having dates with girls.” well, perhaps it was hurtful to hear such a thing, but, I am just honest to say that. “You are really cynical, Nana.” That was her comment. My response was, “I am cynical, yes, but I am telling the truth. Truth is sometimes hurtful, isn’t it?” Then, she went on saying, “But, as far as I know, karma will happen to the offspring. For example it will happen to my children?” Goodness! She even expected her children to get “punished” for what she has done?
One thing I remember very well about Islamic teaching, apart from the fact that now I have become very secular, that we will get the “fruit” for what we have done in our life, and not anybody else.
“The message” was clear, for me. I want that friend of mine to realize that if she cheats her hubby, her hubby will cheat her. But, I think she couldn’t read that message.
Well, though I don’t really believe in karma, I believe that we have to be responsible for what we have done. In the entire life of mine for more than 37 years now, I NEVER betray any good friend of mine. Not yet. LOL. So, when this Buddhist friend betrayed me, is there any other thing I expect that she will be betrayed too by someone else later on? She will get the “fruit” for what she has done to me.
Though people say that LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, life is not easy either, right? It needs hard struggle to live as what we expect.


There are many reasons for us to do something in our life.
There are many reasons why we make friend with someone; maybe because that particular person has the same interest with us, the same personality, the same job, coming from the same hometown, or coming from the same walk of life, etc.
People have tendency to offer things they have to other people they are attracted to befriend. A female friend of mine—a very rich one—once complained to me coz her boyfriend was attracted to her only coz of her riches (that she got from her rich hubby). But I suspect that in the beginning of their relationship, she was the one who offered her riches to him, to attract him, to “tie” him. So, when then she found out he only made use of her money, why did she complain? Then she told me that she was jealous to see my relationship with my loved one coz it was not “built” on riches as the reason. HELLO??? Of course not. I don’t have riches to offer. I intentionally showed him that I was bright (ups, so arrogant of me?); it means I offered him my being bright to make him attracted to me. :-D and until now, I never regret it. “I love Nana coz she is smart,” that’s what he said to that female friend of mine who was jealous of my smartness. Well, both of us have nothing to complain, right? Both of us offered things what we respectively have to the guy we are attracted to. No need jealousy.
There are also many reasons why people fall in love with someone.
It is likely to happen that we fall in love coz of good look, good personality, smartness, until riches. People also say that perhaps coz that person has the “striking inexplicable chemistry” that attracts us very strongly.
We cannot blame our friend, for example, when he/she falls in love with someone coz of the good look, though behind the look, that particular person has nothing. It is because our friend perhaps value good look above any other thing. We cannot judge him/her as someone narrow-minded due to that. Who doesn’t like to be accompanied by someone good looking during entire lifetime? When we get bored coz of the routine, we easily get “medicine” by looking at our spouse’s good look.
We cannot blame our friend when he/she falls in love with someone coz of the riches he/she has. Well, we can probably say that this particular friend only chases riches coz he/she doesn’t want to work hard. But, what’s wrong with that? It is none of our business, is it? Can we assume that when people judge someone as materialistic coz of falling in love with riches as the main reason, it means we are just jealous coz he/she will get “enjoyable” life, full of money?
Some years ago, a female student of mine said that she was looking for a boyfriend who is smart, better still smarter than her. “To lead me to a good way in our marriage life later”, was her reason. I commented, “Well, if he leads you, how about if he misleads you? With his brightness, he can make up anything to sound logical to you, to assure you that it is the best way, so that you will say, “Yes, you are absolutely right, my darling.”
Try to understand people from their way of thinking. Don’t judge them bad only coz they use different parameter from ours in undergoing this life.
P.S (1): Well, suggestion for myself. J
P.S (2): I must admit that sometimes I cannot avoid coveting that I want to have everything I can offer to my loved one, not only smartness, but also including riches, one thing I don’t have YET. Well, it is very humane, isn’t it if we want to be everything before our loved one’s eyes?
P.S. (3): Ah ... I remember, a good friend of mine once said to me that I became very foolishly loyal when I am in love.

Why people go online?

Why people go online?
“To fulfill what they lack in their real life. This cyber world offers a lot to them.” This was the answer of my online lover I had in 1999-2001.
No wonder if then we find a lot of people fake their identity, to “realize” their dream, that they are “someone they want to be if they can choose to be born again in this world”, including following the standard of “ideal” constructed by society. People who are already married sometimes want to say that they are still single coz they probably dream to be still single so that they are free to have new boyfriends/girlfriends again. People who are still single, but coz their age is considered to be mature enough to be married (again to follow society’s standard ideal of getting married at certain age bracket), perhaps they will say that they are already married. And these two kinds of people will live in their dream world, being happy in their imagination when going online before they go back to their reality and face the bitterness.
“What’s wrong with that?”
Of course there is nothing wrong with that as long as they don’t harm other people. Living in this harsh world, everybody has right to be happy, including if they have to live in “delusive world” behind cyber world’s screen. They just “harm” themselves coz such happiness doesn’t work for a long time. “At least, I can enjoy some time in this bitter life of mine,” perhaps will be their “weapon to answer.
Well is there long lasting happiness in this world, anyway?
I have a workmate, female, more than thirty years old, who is still single. My other workmates and I all know that she is really obsessed to marry a foreigner. We are not really sure though why she has such an obsession. We all agree that she is arrogant, view herself as better person than the others. (Ups … I don’t mean to be judgmental, but this is really what I heard when my workmates talked to me.) Besides, I remember once she said that no single Indonesian guy deserves to get her. uhh … (I am really sorry to say that, my fellow male citizen. LOL.)
We have to admit that indeed some, or perhaps many people get their soul mates via this cyber world. But we cannot close our eyes from the fact that many players are wandering in this faked world. They just want to play. (Oh well, there are many players too in the real world, aren’t there?)
I seldom meet this workmate of mine recently due to the different teaching schedule. Yesterday, another workmate of mine told me that this “snobbish” workmate seemed uncomfortable with the fact that she is still single despite her “quite mature to get married” age.
It made me remember some years ago, she often talked about her foreign boyfriends she got from the cyber world who were crazy for her, who wanted to marry her. However, until now none of them came to
Indonesia. Well, for some people, not having a boyfriend/girlfriend can be something quite embarrassing (not ‘sold out” yet. LOL.). Including to this workmate of mine, I believe. So, she talked to people around her that she had a boyfriend (or boyfriends) living abroad. She lives in her delusive world.
How about me myself?
Well, by writing a lot via blogs, I feel like I already become a writer. LOL. Indeed, I want to be a writer. Still trying to start writing my first novel. LOL. Wish me luck, will ya?