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Feminist Cultural Studies and The Javanese Culture

Written by eastern writer on Monday, April 07, 2008

Feminist Cultural Studies (Kajian Budaya Feminis: Tubuh, Sastra, dan Budaya Pop) is a book written by Aquarini Priyatna Prabasmoro, one of Indonesian feminist writer. Some of her articles were published at Kalam, one of the most reputable literary journal in Indonesia, supported by Utan Kayu community.

Nana Podungge wrote a review about that book and criticize patriarchal society, especially in Javanese society which took woman on the second class. Nana show us the relationship between wife and husband in a family.

Aquarini who is married to a Javanese man didn’t know this. When one day she used Ngoko language to the husband, the husband’s family members didn’t like it and consider Aquarini an impolite woman. As a feminist, It directly left a bad taste in her mouth coz using Javanese language made her less important than her husband. Then she asked her husband to speak the national language—Bahasa Indonesia—that doesn’t have such a hierarchy. She is lucky, I suppose, coz her husband didn’t complain and agreed with her.

In a way, it is a dilemma. When more and more people think like this, it will make Javanese language vanish. However, I agree with Aquarini that the application of three different hierarchies in this local language will make women feel inferior, as someone less important.

It reminded me of my own bitter experience in my first marriage. I didn’t use Kromo Inggil to speak to him in the past. However, I used to call Angie’s dad “Mas”, one term mostly used by Javanese people to show respect to men. He just called me my name. After we got divorced, I no longer call him “Mas”. It left a bad taste in my mouth! It really made me forced to be the less important party only coz I was born female; and he the respected one only coz he was born male!

Perhaps for many people it is just a trivial thing. But to me—also to Aquarini—and perhaps also to some other feminists—this is a principle thing in life.

It reminds me of questions asked by many people to me, “Why do you feminists bother those things taken for granted for centuries and try to deconstruct them? Why don’t you just live in peace by accepting everything just the way it is? (Read => to accept that men are the better sex, the superior, the smarter, the stronger, etc.)
We just want to have equality. It sounds easy but difficult to make it real.


What do you think about woman in Javanese Society or in other patriarchal society, do you agree with Nana and Aquarini, or against their opinion?

This is the detail of the book (in Bahasa Indonesia)

Judul buku: Kajian Budaya Feminis: Tubuh, Sastra, dan Budaya Pop
Penulis: Aquarini Priyatna Prabasmoro
Penerbit: Jalasutra, Yogyakarta & Bandung
Cetakan: Pertama, 2006
Tebal: xlviii + 464 halaman

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