Tue, 06 May 2003

'People fear authoritarianism more than eroticism'

Moch. N. Kurniawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesians may have become more open to eroticism as reflected in Inul Daratista's ngebor or drilling dance, but they fear the reemergence of authoritarianism as in dangdut music artist King Rhoma Irama, who condemns her style of dance, sociologists have said.

Imam B. Prasodjo, a leading sociologist, said on Monday that Inul's style of dance was only one instance of the many erotic images allowed to be aired or published freely across the country.

"We are seeing a shift in moral values as everywhere we look there are erotic images and suggestions, in film, language and pictures, which are freely aired or published without any social or legal sanctions," he told the Jakarta Post.

He cited the increase in various tabloids that cater to the sex industry, racy advertisements and erotic forms of dance in the country.

"But if Inul's dancing, which can be categorized as sensual, is prohibited by an organization headed by Rhoma Irama, people will be against this authoritarian move rather than her dancing."

He said those who supported Inul when Rhoma openly condemned her style of dance were in actual fact against authoritarianism, which had terrified people in the past.

Under these circumstances, those who have money are the ones who can get the most benefit as they can gain a lucrative profit from marketing Inul's performances, he said.

A number of politicians, artists and women's rights activists have thrown their support behind Inul to continue performing her sizzling gyrations as "freedom of expression".

Their support came after Rhoma Irama, from the Association of Malay Music Artists, condemned Inul's dance, charging that her performances encouraged sex and even incited rape.

His condemnation was the latest move made by an organization after the Indonesia Council of Ulemas (MUI) and the Alliance for the Anti-Pornography Society called on Inul to stop her dancing.

Imam added that people in the country should start discussing how to limit eroticism or pornography would increase if morals were not upheld.

"The creation of an antipornography law is the best solution and it is relevant to this situation, so that we can fairly limit those who are allowed and not allowed to perform in public," he said.

Imam said he did not want to imagine what the future of the country's culture and morals would be like if Inul's dance was allowed to be taught in schools and followed by other singers in the name of freedom of expression.

"If Inul's dance was performed by bikini-clad women, should we allow the dance?" he said, adding that a number of questions should be raised to determine which erotic dances are pornographic.

Ida Ruwaida of the sociology department of the University of Indonesia said that people in Indonesia, particularly in big cities, had become increasingly more permissive in their sexual behavior.

"Through the media, erotic dances, cinema, sensual images and student porn compact discs have been produced. I think our society has not only become a sexually obsessed society, but also a sexually active one," she said.

Inul is only a small part of that eroticism, she added.

Therefore, she said, if people in this country want to limit eroticism or even pornography, they should not only censor Inul's dance but also other erotic performances.

But as people do not yet have this authority, state institutions should be temporarily allowed to censor images, she said.

"We know that a censorship body failed to meet people's demands in the past, but the point is now we should have a body that can work effectively to censor the rampant pornography," she said.

Otherwise, Ida said, there would be a large-scale deception of the people through the mass media.

She said even in developed countries, pornography was also censored, and suggestive material was shown at times when children would not able to watch it.

She said that once audiences were mature enough, the censorship body would not be necessary and people could set up their own watchdog agencies.