Sat, 13 Aug 1994

Feminist seminar

I was horrified, yes, horrified, to read that the U.S. in promoting its own national ideology of naive egalitarianism had organized a feminist seminar at the U.S. Embassy here in Jakarta (The Jakarta Post, July 28, 1994). The article Feminist movement can learn from U.S. rolled out a couple of hoary old chestnuts like this one for example: "The American women even participate in a traditionally male activity such as weight lifting." How rich! Women all over the Western world have been competing in weight lifting for years. And, sadly, most of them look like men.

In that little quote above lies a major root of the "feminist" movement. They call themselves "feminists" but they want to be like men. How sad. Indonesian women are truly feminine and there are some wonderful traditions which serve to encourage their grace and femininity. How perverse it would be if young women across the archipelago now began pumping iron in a misguided attempt to compete with their husbands for muscle size and to become liberated. Feminism was always a contradiction in terms. From the earliest days there has been a strong lesbian influence and this has had the effect of emphasizing the masculine at the expense of the feminine.

You see, what a lot of people forget and even more never knew, is that modern feminism has its roots in Marxist theory. Oh yes it does. In the Marxist world view the worker is repressed and enslaved by the capitalist class. All that some of the early feminist writers did was substitute the word "woman" for the word "worker" and men for "capitalist". Don't forget too, that Marxism has a materialist and rationalist orientation which is in direct contrast to the spiritual and emotional orientation of Indonesian culture.

Dr. Tuty Heraty Noerhadi (professor of philosophy at U.I.) is quoted in the same article as saying "Indonesian feminists should aim at harmony" and in doing so she goes right to the crux of the issue here. Western feminism is full of dogma, conflict and confrontation. Harmony is anathema to its way of thinking. I urge all Indonesian women to take heed of Dr. Tuty's wise words and to draw on your own cultural foundations. I can assure you that from my experience of the last 25 years of feminism, it is the U.S. and Western feminists who should be learning from you, not the other way round.