“… And my sister…
In her artificial home,
with her artificial goldfish,
and in the security of her artificial husband’s love,
and under the branches of artificial apple trees,
she sings artificial songs, and produces real babies…”
(I Feel Sorry for the Garden, by Forugh Farrokhzad)
I never wrote something that covers this topic in my blog before. No matter how much it actually disturbs my conscience, I tried to ruminate this topic more before I finally decided to write something about it. This topic is rather challenging to be discussed since, whether I want it or not, will touch the sensitive issue of certain religious believe in Indonesia.
The concept of this industrialized wedding in Indonesia has changed so much for as long as my memory could serve me. When I was a kid, as far as I could remember, there is no one would be very happy to be married young. During my high school period, what we talked about was anything around the latest fashion, which university shall we go to afterward, which festivals do we want to go to during the weekend, whether the other have heard a new local indie band’s songs, which book that we have read lately. We don’t talk about which ikhwan is going to be our imam. Even the local soap opera (Pernikahan Dini as an example) shows how miserable it is to be married at such a young age.
Yet now, the younger generation is being sold by this dreamy concept of how beautiful it is to be married in such a young age. It is even so often many youths see marriage as an ultimate goal in life. Indisputably, the youth energy which should actually be dedicated for self and social improvement, is wasted only to endlessly find the righteous partner in life. Every prayers and efforts are aimed only to find the real imam or heavenly goddess to light up their lives. All the Facebook pages are so full of these poems in finding their future partner in life. All the mockeries and jokes are aimed for those who are still single as if there is something wrong with being single.
When I went back to Indonesia last December, I was taken aback realizing since when I’m no longer able to find any topics to discuss with my friends. The topics discussed were mostly related to making a family, having babies, finding a partner. While in here, during the dinner or coffee time, we have so many things to discuss, from politics, arts, history, hobbies, new places to travel to, sciences, movies…
The socio-cultural pressure that rushes women in general, and the Muslim women in Indonesia is not a brand-new stuff. But as I have mentioned earlier, women in the previous time have more power to control their own future, to be able to say no and to focus on building their futures. While the women today, they tend to hold the pressure close and make it as a common sense and general acceptance.
Of course, some people could argue, “but marriage and career are not necessarily two separate entity” or “marriage could invite more fortune”. Well, if that’s what the women want then I have nothing to argue about. But then my concern is do we, women, really want that marriage, or this is only just a single way to proof our womanhood that has been shaped and narrowed in such a way by the society?
The argumentation that I want to highlight here is not to share the idea to say no to a marriage. I’m just wondering where does our liberty as women go so now we are fully submitted to the old-fashioned idea where our destiny is not more than makmum yang shalihah (the virtuous congregation). The pressure to our sexuality and objectification of women will not end soon… It’s a long fight that has been soundly propagate by Kartini, the power of women to be able to define herself fully, to choose her own path in order to build the future that she wants.
Marriage to avoid sins
Those who agree with the “let’s get married” concept has one strong reason, to avoid adultery. There are two main roots of this concept of adultery that we know in Indonesia. First, less productive life that leads to the self focus which goes around in fulfilling the sexual needs. And second, the society that defines one’s being only based on their sexual achievement. For example, the women will be considered successful only when they are married or pregnant. Or a very sexist comment of men to their newly wed male-friends, “congrats, bro. You are finally a real man” as if their manhood is solely defined by their ability to sleep with women.
The last factor is also supported by the typical gulf states repression of sexual expression. Who doesn’t want to get married when the promise of rushing out a marriage is to have a submissive shalihah (virtuous) wife who tries to find their ways to heaven only by following their husband?
At the end, our homework as Indonesian women are mainly focus on two things. First is to liberate ourselves from the post-colonization syndrome that forms us to see ourselves inferior in the international field. And second, from our mostly patriarchal socio-cultural and religious context. This fight will surely be easier if all the women voice the same idea that rejects the forced definition that are limited to reproductive and sexual function. And if your arguments are based on the religious perspective, I’m sure women deserve place in heaven with or without a man in their lives.