Ojo Gumunan (karo seks)

Seorang teman membagi link melalui facebook yang memberitakan bahwa sejumlah situs berisi informasi untuk ibu menyusui telah diblokir, sebagai imbas dari peraturan menteri Komunikasi dan Informatika tentang pemblokiran internet bermuatan negatif. Mungkin gara-gara html situs ini memuat frase breast massage. Payudara memang tampaknya sudah mengalami proses peyorasi di negara ini. Kata atau bagian tubuh ini membuat orang terobsesi, mengingini, lalu melakukan tindak perlindungan diri dengan cara mengutuki. Seperti berita jilboobs yang belum lama ini membayangi timeline facebook saya. Padahal sebenarnya ‘fenomena’ ini juga tidak baru-baru amat. Sejak saya masih mengenakan jilbab mulai tahun 2005, orang-orang juga sudah memakai jilbab dengan cara yang sama. Waktu itu, tidak ada yang mencemooh mereka. Namun sekarang, gaya berpakaian ini mendadak jadi serius. Ada yang menanggapinya dengan cara agamis (“cara berpakaian seperti ini menghina Islam dan perempuan, bla bla bla”), banyak pula yang melihatnya dengan cara seksual. Bagi saya sendiri, bukan para pengguna jilbab itu yang menghina perempuan, namun mereka yang menulis artikel dan menyebarkan artikel itulah yang melakukan pelecehan. Foto orang-orang itu disensor mukanya, sehingga hanya bagian dada yang tersisa untuk dilihat. Identitas mereka tidak penting, mereka hanyalah sekelompok makhluk hidup berpayudara. Saya tidak terkejut, tubuh wanita toh sudah dijadikan objek selama berabad-abad lamanya. Artikel yang beredar di media sosial ini hanya salahsatu di antaranya. Bentuk objektifikasi kampungan.

Mengapa payudara wanita, atau seksualitas secara umum menjadi hal yang begitu menghebohkan, namun tercela? Sehingga televisi tidak hanya melakukan sensor pada belahan dada, namun juga pada patung-patung telanjang ala Renaissance (dalam film-film yang kebetulan berlatarbelakang Eropa)? Apakah mudah-terangsang memang menjadi bagian dalam diri kita yang tidak akan terpisahkan? Apakah memang tubuh wanita sengaja diciptakan untuk merangsang? Sesederhana itukah? Lalu mengapa tidak ada pelecehan seksual di Vermont? Di mana tidak ada larangan untuk tampil telanjang di tempat umum?

Beberapa kawan saya pun ikut mengomentari artikel tentang jilboobs dengan nada seksual, saya muak. Saya pikir mereka cukup pintar, ternyata segitu aja. Sebenarnya tubuh perempuan itu biasa-biasa saja. Tubuh perempuan tidak memiliki sifat / berkodrat merangsang, konstruksi sosial lah yang membuatnya demikian. Seperti kata Foucault, pandangan kita tentang seksualitas dibentuk oleh relasi kuasa. Kita meyakini bahwa seksualitas sudah melekat pada diri kita sejak lahir, bahwa lekuk payudara adalah suatu hal yang secara otomatis akan membuat pria terangsang. Dengan kata lain, kekuasaan tersebut berhasil membuat orang percaya bahwa tubuh wanita inheren dengan objek seks, sehingga tubuh ini harus disembunyikan. Sebagai konsekuensi, jika kita pulang malam dan tidak memakai pakaian tertutup, maka kita pantas dilecehkan, we’re asking for it, salah sendiri tidak menutup diri sehingga membuat pria ingin menikmati kita. Ada pula yang membuat analogi antara perempuan dengan lollipop. Orang yang membuat komparasi tersebut sudah pasti tidak pernah belajar prinsip perbandingan dalam riset, karena dia berasumsi bahwa wanita dan permen adalah sampling yang sah untuk dibandingkan. Kodrat manusia, baik wanita maupun pria, bukanlah untuk dilecehkan atau melecehkan. Kodrat manusia adalah berjuang.

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’cause I’m obviously similar to a dirty lollipop

Terkait kehebohan yang ditunjukkan orang-orang pada payudara dan isu seks, Foucault pun memiliki penjelasan yang sederhana, “We only desire something we can’t have.” Penjelasan ini membuat saya merasa kasihan dengan mereka yang gampang terpana dengan foto payudara, mereka adalah orang-orang yang sangat menginginkan seks namun tidak bisa mendapatkannya. Aww.. L  Get married, guys. Or get laid. Orang-orang juga mungkin masih takjub dan terheran-heran dengan isu seks. Karena selama ini seks ditempatkan di ruang tabu, yang tidak boleh dibicarakan secara terbuka. Seks hanya disebutkan melalui satu kalimat pada saat penyuluhan HIV/AIDS (“Hindari seks bebas!”, tanpa mengetahui definisi “seks bebas” yang sebenarnya, tanpa mendapat klarifikasi bahwa berhubungan seks dengan pasangan sah secara hukum dan agama yang terkena AIDS pun bisa menyebabkan kita terjangkit virus tersebut). Kita menghindari pembicaraan tentang seks karena kita begitu peduli pada moralitas. Kita ingin mencetak orang-orang yang bermoral dengan cara menyembunyikan seks dari pembicaraan kosntruktif, membuat seks jadi hal asing yang mengagetkan.    

Pepatah Jawa Ojo dadi wong gumunan mungkin juga bisa kita terapkan pada seks. Kita lahir dari proses seksual, kita memiliki ketertarikan pada seksualitas dan kita akan melakukan hubungan seks. Kita pernah meminum susu dari payudara ibu, payudara adalah bagian dari tubuh yang melekat pada tubuh wanita (juga pria). Hal lain yang tidak kalah penting, kita harus belajar menghormati orang lain dan keputusan yang mereka ambil atas tubuh mereka. Tidak seorangpun yang boleh dinegasikan hak-nya atas tubuh mereka sendiri. Ditindik atau tidak ditindik, berambut panjang atau pendek, berjilbab atau tidak, semua manusia pantas dan harus mendapatkan penghargaan.    

Jakarta, 14 Agustus 2014

Batari Durga: yang Dihukum, yang Dipuja

Seorang kawan berkata bahwa kesan pertamanya terhadap saya adalah mengerikan dan tidak bersahabat. Iapun mengidentifikasi saya sebagai Batari Durga. Beberapa lama kemudian ia mengirim foto patung Durga Mahisasuramardini, dengan keterangan pose menjambak anak kecil itu mirip kamu. Meski akan lebih bangga jika dilihat sebagai Saraswati, saya mengambil kesempatan untuk mengenal Durga lebih dekat.

Menurut bahasa Sansekerta, Durga (dur + gam) berarti benteng (Kumar: 1974, dari The Goddess Durga in the East-Javanese Period oleh Hariani Santiko) yang bisa juga diterjemahkan sebagai tidak tersentuh atau terisolasi. Sementara itu Ensiklopedi Wayang Purwa I mengartikan gelar Durga sebagai kecewa / jelek / tidak menyenangkan. Ia adalah jelmaan dari Dewi Uma (Parwati) yang cantik jelita. Mengenai bagaimana Durga berubah wujud dari wanita cantik menjadi raksasi, ada beberapa versi cerita. Versi pertama, ia dikutuk oleh suaminya, Batara Guru, karena menolak bercinta di atas lembu Nandi. Versi kedua, ia dikutuk suaminya karena ketahuan selingkuh dengan seorang pemerah sapi (padahal pemerah sapi itu sebenarnya merupakan jelmaan dari Dewa Siwa sendiri yang tengah menguji kesetiaan Dewi Uma. Dewi Uma memutuskan untuk tidur dengan sang pemerah sapi demi mendapatkan susu sapi yang sangat dibutuhkan oleh suaminya). Semenjak kutukan itu, Dewi Durga berubah tampilan menjadi mengerikan dengan mata dan hidung besar serta bertaring. Ia hidup terisolasi di Setra Gandamayu, kuburan paling mengerikan di seantero bumi.

Durga memang kecewa. Kekecewaannya disebabkan karena kesetiaan dan dedikasinya yang sangat besar kepada Siwa diacuhkan. Siwa masih merasa perlu mengetesnya dengan berbagai cara, hingga akhirnya ujian itu menjerumuskan dirinya, dan ia harus mendapat hukuman. Hukuman, seperti kata Foucault, memang bukan hanya perkara yudisial, tapi lebih dari itu, adalah ritual politik. Karena itulah hukuman yang diberikan terhadap Uma bersifat fisik, ia diubah menjadi Durga yang berpenampilan mengerikan. Harapannya, orang lain akan melihat Durga sebagai tokoh yang berperilaku menyimpang, dan karena itu menghindari perbuatan yang sama (tentu banyak yang beranggapan bahwa peristiwa ini bermuatan patriarki. Mungkin saja). Bagaimanapun, menurut Foucault juga, hukuman memang akan membuat tubuh menjadi pesakitan, namun jiwa yang ada di dalamnya dapat memberikan kemungkinan lain. Hukuman yang diterima Durga tidak membuatnya mengaku salah. Alih-alih, ia menunjukkan resistensi. Malah dalam beberapa versi, ia dikisahkan balik mengutuk Batara Guru yang ia anggap memperlakukannya secara tidak pantas. Yang pasti, resistensi ini membuatnya bertransformasi dari dewi lembut yang tidak berdaya, menjadi penguasa Setra Gandamayu. Bersama para pengikutnya yang berwujud raksasa dan dedemit, ia menunjukkan kekuasaan serta kekuatannya. Dikisahkan, sebelum Perang Bharatayudha dimulai, Dewi Kunti meminta Arjuna untuk terlebih dahulu mengajukan permohonan kepada Durga agar bisa mengalahkan Kurawa. Kisah ini rupanya menginspirasi Raja Airlangga yang dikenal menjadi raja yang sangat memuja Durga untuk bisa memenangkan perang melawan musuh-musuhnya.

Chamundi di Museum Trowulan. Photo taken by Ahlul Amri Buana

Selain Airlangga, Kertanegara juga dikabarkan memberi perintah pada keluarga kerajaan untuk melakukan pemujaan terhadap Chamundi demi melanggengkan posisinya di tampuk kepemimpinan. Chamundi adalah bentuk persatuan sakti (kekuatan) dari para dewa yang bertransformasi menjadi pasangan wanita mereka. Termasuk di dalamnya adalah Kali (Durga) yang merupakan sakti dari Dewa Siwa. Chamundi, karenanya, dikenal sebagai bentuk terkuat dari Batari Durga. Pemujaan Chamundi diidentikkan dengan ritual Tantrayana yang memang dipraktekkan oleh Kertanegara setelah ia mendengar bahwa Kubilai Khan menganut aliran tersebut yang membuatnya selalu memenangkan perang (akhirnya Kertanegara justru terbunuh dan Singasari runtuh akibat Kediri yang menyerang di saat Kertanegara dan keluarga kerajaan tengah melakukan ritual seks Tantrayana).

Di sisi lain, Durga juga digambarkan sebagai dewi penyebar penyakit dan kematian. Hal ini dikisahkan dalam lakon Calon Arang, seorang penyihir yang murka karena anaknya yang cantik, Ratna Manggali, tak kunjung menerima lamaran. Alhasil Calon Arang mengadakan ritual pemujaan pada Durga dan memintanya menyebarkan penyakit mematikan di seluruh desa. Sementara itu, masyarakat di beberapa wilayah di India melihat Durga sebagai dewi pelindung, bahkan dewi yang memberi kesuburan pada sayuran! Meski sebagian dari mereka juga memuja Durga karena takut akan kutukan penyakit mematikannya ketika sang dewi merasa tidak puas.

Meski begitu, lakon Durga yang paling terkenal tetaplah kisah heroiknya yang berhasil mengalahkan Mahisasura, raja raksasa berbentuk banteng besar yang telah lama mengganggu kehidupan para dewa. Tokoh anak kecil dalam patung Durga Mahisasuramardini yang dikirim oleh kawan saya itu sebenarnya adalah sosok asura, raksasa dalam bentuk manusia, hanya saja ukuran tubuhnya memang masih jauh lebih kecil bila dibandingkan dengan Durga. Jadi, kalau saya adalah Durga, saya sebenarnya menjambak rambut raksasa.

Durga Mahisasuramardhini. Photo taken by adrian
Durga Mahisasuramardhini. Photo taken by adrian

 

Durga adalah dewi yang terhukum karena kesetiaannya.Karakternya memang berubah bersamaan dengan wujud fisiknya (entah kenapa tidak seperti Anoman yang, justru karena menyadari wujudnya yang seperti kera, atau memang kera, berusaha untuk selalu berbuat baik dan bersifat kesatria untuk membuktikan jiwanya yang sama baik, bahkan lebih baik, dari manusia biasa). Namun sebenarnya, seperti tokoh epos Mahabharata lain, Durga tidak hitam atau putih. Ia garang, tapi ia juga pelindung. Ia korban, tapi ia juga bertahan.

Yogyakarta, 15 Mei 2013

 

Remembering Ular Naga

As soon as we got to the temporary settlement, I got nervous and overwhelmed. There were at least 50 kids, screamed for candies, asked for attention.

Seeking for comfort zone, I found it at the house of Pak Lurah. He and his family provide a comfortable room for us to sleep, a living room with very nice couches, and amazingly delicious foods. Like seriously, very delicious. The cook is so great, plus the fact that I’ve been craving for Indonesian foods after two weeks in United States. I need to put extra effort to get myself excited every single day (by putting make up on my face, playing with eye shadow and lipstick colors). Pak Lurah and Bu Lurah are somehow inspiring. Pak Lurah is a good speaker. I’ve been witnessing him speaking in couple occasions, when he met us the first time, when he had his meeting with the neighborhood, and gave his welcoming remarks in the mass prayers. His speech is structured, always has a little humor, he understands what is going on in the field- unlike some officers who ‘supervises’ the people up from his room and living his own image about what is his society look like, and he has this well ability to suit his speech to his audiences. I remembered he used good bahasa when he spoke to us, with some sophisticated terms. And then he spoke very well Javanese when he faced his community. The role of Bu Lurah and women association in this village is also quite surprising. One day there was this meeting in Pak Lurah’s house, attended by the male figures and the members of women association. Later on Bu Lurah was telling me that they met to talk about the plan of neighborhood gathering in Iedul Fitri. The issue was on the budget, and the people’s interests on joining this activity. Bu Lurah criticizes the apathy of one of the hamlet leaders who doesn’t think that the gathering is important, she said, “If the leader doesn’t have the initiative, then the people will lose the bond, or anything else they need.” As I remember, I think that was the first time I saw a neighborhood meeting where the male and female residences were sitting in the same place, and the female members were very vocal in telling their opinions. Bu Lurah is also a typical of a woman you can rely to, she dresses up pretty, smells good, drives the car (although her daughter Qila just told us that she ran through a baby turkey yesterday) and outspoken.

So, staying at home, in the girls’ bed room, with my blanket, is my favorite part of the day. But I guess it is like another AFS experience, when they were telling us that we have to get out of our comfort zone. Because the more we lock ourselves, the more we will feel the gap between us and this new society. We have to hang out and explore, they garranty, we are going to find unexpected interesting stories. And I guess I did. Some kids in the temporary settlement are obviously challenging, but some others are just lovely. We usually play out every afternoon, and we play the good traditional games such as ular naga, gobag sodor and petak umpet.

Playing Ular Naga

Petak umpet is hide and seek.

In ular naga, there are two people who raise their hands together, like making tunnel. And then the rest of the children are going through the tunnel while queuing like a train. They sing, “Ular naga panjangnya, bukan kepalang. Berjalan-jalan selalu kian kemari. Umpan yang lezat itulah yang dicari. Ini dianya yang terbelakang. (A very long dragon wandering around, a delicious meal is what he looks for, and the good meal is the latest one),” the kid who is in the middle of the ‘tunnel’ when the song stops got caught. And then the two tunnel makers will ask them to choose between two codes, the codes can be the name of fruits, or animals, or jewelries. Each code represents the two tunnels. After all the kids chose the code, they will be standing in the line, behind the tunnel makers who now changed their roles as “mama dragons”. Then these two mama dragons will try to run into each other to ‘steal’ the ‘baby dragons’ who stand in the line behind them. The dragons have to protect their babies.

Meanwhile gobag sodor players consist of two team, one team will stand in line to make a fortress, and the other team plays role to get through the fortress without getting caught.

Playing the game with children turned out to be fun, we had lots of laughs, and it was refreshing as we remember our own childhood. I guess, to some extent, KKN is like another AFS experience, you have to get out of your comfort zone and explore. Although I guess you just cannot be out of your comfort zone all the time. There are times where I just wanted to drown myself in my book, under my blanket. In fact I just had a night off last week, my boyfriend picked me up from Pak Lurah’s house and then we spent the night together near Borobudur. Of course I was happy, but then I got very sad when he finally had to bring me back to the house in the next morning, and left. I’m missing him again right now.

I will write further about the ups and downs here. Although I will not be on time posting it on blog since the internet connection is not available everyday.

Cheers!

Nyadran

Pak Lurah bilang, sebaiknya kami datang ke acara nyadran di masjid, dengan demikian kami dapat berkenalan dengan penduduk desa. Ini acara yang diadakan sekali saja dalam satu tahun setiap menjelang bulan Ramadhan. Idenya adalah untuk mendoakan orangtua dan leluhur yang sudah terlebih dahulu meninggalkan kita. Ini menunjukkan seberapa kuat ikatan kami, orang Indonesia, dalam cerita ini khususnya orang Jawa, dengan leluhur kami. Seperti banyak peradaban lain, spiritualitas di tempat ini dimulai dengan ancestor worship, atau pemujaan terhadap leluhur. Leluhur memiliki andil yang sangat besar dalam menciptakan kehidupan saat ini. Kematian tidak menghapus andil mereka, jiwa mereka masih ada, bahkan kekuatannya bertambah karena leluhur sudah berada di tempat yang lebih tinggi, artinya, mereka memiliki peran yang lebih besar dalam kehidupan kita yang masih hidup. Mereka bisa memberikan berkah kepada anak cucu dan keturunannya, akan tetapi juga bisa memberikan kesengsaraan apabila para keturunan ini melakukan sesuatu yang tidak sesuai dengan norma yang seharusnya. Doktrin monotheisme memberikan alternatif berupa pemujaan terhadap satu Pencipta, yang berarti bahwa leluhur tidak lagi memiliki peran yang sangat besar yang bisa mengubah nasib manusia, akan tetapi penghormatan terhadap mereka tidak serta merta luntur. Dan salah satu tradisi Muslim Jawa adalah secara khusus mendoakan orangtua serta leluhur mereka sebelum memulai bulan Ramadhan. Barangkali karena bulan Ramadhan dipercaya sebagai bulan yang suci dan penuh berkah, sehingga doa akan lebih mudah didengarkan dan dikabulkan. Selain itu, semua orang ingin memulai bulan Ramadhan dengan pikiran, hati dan diri yang bersih. Nyadran menjadi salah satu sarana untuk membangun komunikasi dengan leluhur, dengan demikian selain memohon pengampunan Tuhan bagi leluhur, mereka juga memohon pengampunan dari Tuhan dan leluhur bagi diri mereka sendiri. Nantinya kami juga punya tradisi lain bernama padusan, di mana orang-orang akan pergi ke pemandian umum, kolam renang, atau di kamar mandi pribadi mereka sendiri, untuk membersihkan fisik (lebih secara simbolis) sebelum menjalani bulan suci.

Kembali kepada soal nyadran, tradisi ini ternyata sudah dimulai sejak jaman Majapahit. Informasi tentangnya dapat ditemukan di dalam kitab Negarakartagama, di mana orang-orang pada jaman tersebut menjalankan prosesi nyradan di candi-candi yang tersedia, dengan tujuan yang kurang lebih sama. Oleh Muslim Jawa, hal inipun diadopsi. Kata nyradan diganti menjadi nyadran yang lebih nyaman di lidah, dan lokasi candi diganti menjadi masjid. Hari ini, warga desa mulai memenuhi masjid jam setengah 9 pagi. Ketika pertama kali datang, mereka menyalami satu persatu warga lain yang sudah terlebih dahulu tiba di tempat. Selanjutnya, salah seorang panitia nyadran memberikan sambutan, dilanjutkan oleh Pak Kades, dan Pak Kaum yang memberikan ceramah. Dari Pak Kaumlah kami tahu soal asal usul tradisi nyadran. Pak Kaum, dengan humoris, memberi contoh hal-hal Jawa lain yang juga diadopsi dari istilah asing. Permainan tradisional kami gobag sodor, katanya, diadopsi dari istilah go back to door.  Istilah pretengseng seperti dalam, “Ojo kakehan pretengseng!” sebenarnya berasal dari istilah Inggris pretension, yang juga bisa diartikan bertingkah. Validnya informasi ini mungkin masih bisa didiskusikan, akan tetapi semua bahasa toh memang berakar dari bahasa yang lain, jadi bukan tidak mungkin kalau yang beliau contohkan itu memang benar. Lebih dari itu, Pak Kaum menunjukkan bahwa kebudayaan yang kita miliki pada saat ini merupakan hasil campuran maupun pengaruh dari kebudayaan lain. Tidak ada yang salah dengan hal tersebut, justru proses inilah yang kemudian memperkaya sebuah  kebudayaan.

Jumoyo, 10 Juli 2012

Detachment and commitment: Amish Community and another Moslem Story

Amish community, located in Lancaster, was, umm, unbelievable. I can’t promise you that I will be able to project how cute the people are, or how beautiful the area is, through words, probably not even through pictures. Amish people were originally come from Zurich, Switzerland. Their story began with a man named Simons, who had a little different opinion with Lutheran, Simon thought that baptizing should be optional, so that the people would be more absorbing the meaning of baptizing. Simon and his fellow made a new sect called Menonite. Among this Menonite, however, there were other disagreements. A guy named Jacob Amman thought that the Menonite followers were sway with worldliness very fast. He wanted to return the faith of the people to the old time, when there were not so much distractions. He wanted the people to stay plain, to translate the bible literally, to stay pure. Surprisingly, the Amish moved to America with the same reasons like many other religious believers, to run away from prosecution. Because of its different lifestyle, there were many Amish priests who were jailed or even executed. At first I thought it will be like Baduy people in West Java, but turned out that the Amish are more flexible. They live in a huge huge huge farming area. Unlike Baduy, they aren’t isolate themselves. They live among the people. They can have their houses side by side with other people’s. They go to the store, selling things to people and buying from them. They mingle with other people. The kids go to school, but only for 8 years. They learn basic things such as english, math, history, geography and so on. But they will not go to higher education because they avoid the children knowing too much about the other world that it makes them leaving the Amish culture. Amish people refused to get the picture taken. Stacy and Debra had different thoughts about it. Debra said that the reason they don’t want any picture is because the sense of worldliness, but Stacy said that the Amish believe their soul would be taken away along with the pictures. But during our trip in the area, we are allowed to take pictures of their animals, their buggy horse, their houses et cetera, just not the people. Image

We are still a little bit confused with their technology restrictions though. Because they are not allowed to have telephones or televisions. Basically their houses arent hooked with electricity wire. But then, at one of the family’s house that we visited and we had our dinner with. The family served us with fresh bread and peanut butter, meat ball, chicken and mash potatoes, brownies and ice cream. And these meals couldnt be prepared or preserved without the helped of electricity. The meatball and chicken for example, definitely needs microwave. While ice cream needs to be kept in the fridge. We also saw the fridge and the microwave. These equipments are apparantly ran using the diesel generator, so they are allowed to have that kind of electricity, but not having the wire connected to their houses. Saddie Mae, the Amish lady, was also telling us that she had a friend driving her to the market sometime. She is allowed to ride in the car, but not to drive it. I asked our tour guide, Jane, what was the border of what to do and not do, and she said that as long as the priest said that it is okay, then they are not in troubles. It is still confusing for me. But I guess, what is obvious in the middle of the paradox is the Amish’s detachment from the worldliness. They might use some modern equipments, but they CAN live without it. Saddie Mae wouldnt mind if her friend cant give her a ride that day, she’ll still serve us meals withour her microwave. Amish community are basically surrounded by the modern world, you can find cafe and convinient stores nearby, and they meet tourists everyday-tourists wear fashionable clothes and show their camera and cellphones, but the Amish remain with their salad dress, strap pants, scooter and buggy horses. They are not tempted and rather to continue their simple and modest life. As Stacy said, their world might be small, but they want it that way.   

We also went to the Islamic centre. I wasnt very excited at first, because we had so much about Islam since we started in Indonesia and in Michigan. But the guy we met, Pak Rizwan, was great and I liked him a lot. He came from Bahrain and just like most of the moslem who came from a country with moslem majority, he took his religion for granted. He was just like another teenager too, he was in the band and played Pink Floyd to Metalicca. And then he came to United States. At first he said that he was pretty shy with his identity and rather not to show people about it, since he was worried that he will be treated differently. But then he decided that he wanted to learn about Islam from the very basis, and so he did, and he found that Islam is a very beautiful religion and now he dedicated himslef to be faithful. One of the very interesting parts that he mentioned was about the gender equality in Islam. What he emphasized was basically fact that men and women are created differently. Man is physically stronger, while woman is weaker and more sensitive. But it doesnt mean that they are not equal. Each have different roles, different responsibilities and different previllages. In the Qur’an, man is responsible as the provider of the household. They have to provide foods, money, clothings and so on to her wife, her children, or even her other family members. It doesnt mean that women cant work. They can. In fact, if the women works and gets paycheck, the money is her absolute right and she doesnt need to share with anyone else including her husband. Meanwhile in husband’s money, there are included the wife’s right. This is one of the previlege that is own by women, and that to some extent, man has more responsibility. Islam does not put women as second class citizens.

So why is that we found many violations toward womens rights in Islamic country, using religious teaching as a shield? All I know is this is a major degradation in Moslem’s life. In the life of Prophet Mohammad, even in the era of 4 khalifah after he passed away, women enjoyed the chance to do what men did. They were actively involved in public. Siti Khadijah, Prophet’s wife, was a very succesful and rich merchant. In the leadership of Umar bin Khatab, a government officer who was responsible for the market conditioning also led by a women. But after the Khalifah of Ali bin Abi Thalib, women started to be kept in the house. Some said that at the time, it was a sign of social prestige. The less likely your women to be seen in public, the more prestigious you are. Besides this odd cultural shifting, I also see that the discrimination toward women also happen because of the misconception about responsibility. Men do have a big responsibilty to his wife and his family, it means that he needs to protect her and them and make sure that they are happy. This responsibility has absolutely different meaning with overpowering. Most people, not neccesary men, identify responsibility with previlages. Take our parliament member, for example, they feel the great importance of their role toward Indonesian society, that they used it as a vehicle to overpnd to take advantage. Greater responsibility does not justify you for being mean to people that you are responsible for. Responsibility means commitment.  

Our discussion with Rizwan had to stop because we heard the adzan started to call people for prayer. I felt very touched. I went to pray. Cindhi was very happy and she hoped that I can continue to commit.   

First Walk in Michigan: Meet Religious Students and the Fairies!

The state of Michigan has a pretty diverse community. You can tell from the first time you went out of the airport, you could see Caucasians, African-Americans, and even women with their hijab. This diversity is what makes people receive a lot more exposures toward other ethnicities, races and religions, and as a consequence they are also more tolerance. That is why, the group of Moslem Students Association’s (MSA) members that we met today, at the university library, claimed that they didn’t experience any unpleasant treatment after 9/11 in Michigan. But Obada, one of the Moslem students, lived in West Virginia when the tragedy was happening. He said that his house and some other Moslem’s were vandalized. We couldn’t tell how wide is this action happening in America statistically. But generally, the Moslem students agreed that United States is a safe haven for them as Islam believers. Some of them compare that with the condition in the Middle East, where conflicts happen a lot, and as Moslems they can receive many restrictions- don’t do this, don’t do that.  Of course most of the female members in MSA do not like conservative Moslems. I mean, most of them are Middle East descendants, but most of them (at least some members of the group that I met yesterday) are not wearing hijab. They wear dress-not necessary the long one and their nails are painted. I guess unless you are in Turkey, Indonesia, or countries like Egypt, you will not find Moslem women dress up like this. Some others though, are still wearing hijab. Regardless of the appearance, coming to America does not change the faith of the Moslem students. Even, they believe that becoming the minority has strengthen their faith. As Aisha, an international student from Pakistan explained, she felt like she took her believe for granted back in Pakistan. Being a Moslem is just what others are, and practicing the daily prayers are just what others do too. But in America, she will not hear adzan. She has to be more responsible with her obligations as Moslem. and be more aware with her identity.

Through our meeting today, I can see that Islam and America can become one part. Unlike what happening out there, where these two are always seem like in opposite side, fighting each other. I guess we all agree that these wars are politicized. But still, war in the Middle East happen. And as Moslems and American citizens at the same time, the students still feel the attachment with the Moslem world. Iya was from Iraq, and she really condemns American foreign policy toward her hometown. She said, “How do you expect people to be your friends or follow you (in democracy) if you keep beating and kicking them?” Sarah, who came from the same country like Iya, also said that they still have this solidarity toward Palestine, and they did demonstrations too asking the government to end the conflict, or its sided support.

After meeting MSA, we headed to an apartment, apparently to one room in a basement. Coming into this dark room, we were greeted by group of girls! They are a group of Christian students. Most of them are Asians, they said it because the priest in the church they get involved in is an Asian, so it probably attract more Asians. But they are also some members who are African Americans. And they know some other groups who consist of Caucasian too. I am so glad that in this evening session, we can join the group doing their usual activity. They sing a song titled Second Chance. The lyric was beautiful (it is about how God gives second chance to everyone, and I see that, although the concepts of sins, punishments and hell are exist, but all religions still share this common perspective about God which is loving and forgiving), one girl-Maggie played the guitar, and everyone sing with feeling, they close their eyes, meditate the words. After singing the song, they invited us to join the next activity which is to recite the bible and discuss the story in it. We read Samuel 2, chapter 11 and 12. It was about King David who made a mistake, he slept with Bethsheba, Uriah’s wife. Bethseba finally pregnant and King David tried to manipulate the situation so he can marry Bethsheba and made the child like a legitimate child. H sent Uriah to war, ordered the troops to leave him in the middle of the battle ground so Uriah dead. King David tried to cover his mistake, until Nathan the prophet confronted him and asked him to repent. According to the rules in the bible, people who commit adultery should die. But because David repented, God forgave his sin.

This second meeting is also enlightening to me. During our previous 2 weeks activity, Lehigh students gave me this impression that all American youth are not religious at all, and even, the fact that religions still play a big role in daily life seems strange for them. But these Christian girls showed me that, although I can generalize, there are still many American youth who take religions seriously. And I guess, there will always be. I remember this one student that I met in Mualimat, I asked her why she chose to go to boarding school. Her answer was beyond my expectation, she said, “This world is getting more challenging. And I need religions to hang on.” Probably it is also one of the reasons for the Christian girls, and the MSA members, to stick with their religions values.

Basically today was a very fun day. In the morning we had a campus tour with Kate. University of Michigan is huge and beautiful. Then we went to the downtown of Ann Arbor and had a scavenger hunt, Shannon was my partner. Ann Arbor has this urban of fairy. In many stores and even people’s house, they put a tiny door either on the wall or in front of their buildings for fairy to get in. Very cute!

pictures: (1) Ann Arbor’s attachment to fairies: fairy slippers! (2) one of the fairy door in the Himalayan store (3) University of Michigan’s library.

 

Ann Arbor, June 20 2012

Day 7, Day 8: Loyalty that you can’t explain

There were always stories of miracles in the midst of disaster, like what happened to Singlar Village (Desa Singlar), 8 kilometers away from the top of Merapi volcano. 2010 eruption destroyed the surrounding villages, but Singlar survived. By survived it means out of 130 people in the population, there were ‘only’ 4 who died. And at least the village area isn’t covered with materials (volcano rocks and sand) so people are able to re-build their houses in the same place where it used to be. We met with Pak Sukimin and his family, consist of a wife and two daughters- Putri and Fiani. They were relocated for 42 days during the disaster, and when they were back, they found the house was covered in ashes up to their knees, the roof was gone, the furnitures were burned, and their cattle were died. It took 2 weeks to clean up the ashes only. Now the house has been rebuilt, 3 cows he lost have been replaced, and he develops the business of crossing chicken. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that kind of chicken, but it is the hybrid between Arabic and Javanese chicken, they can produce 7 to 11 eggs per day. He also plants sengon woods, which now grows faster since the volcano ash fertilizes the land. He accompanied us go around the affected area, 2 RT (Rukun Tetangga, or neighborhoods) were all gone. Let’s say, it was an interesting view, that we saw just a dessert, full with rocks and sands. There are no green colors, all are dry. You can only saw the big equipments and trucks were taking the materials, probably bringing them somewhere to the town and sell them as the construction materials. They can get good money for that since volcano materials are known with their good qualities. However, it is hard to imagine the real situation when the disaster was happening. According to Pak Sukimin, most people were trapped. They were running when everything was already dark, everyone were panic, people fell from their motorbike because the ash made the road slippery, but no one helped each other because they need to save themselves and their family first.

However, the disaster made them more religious. Pak Sukimin and his wife only said that they now go to the mosque more often. I guess when you feel like your life is about to be taken, you’ll be remembering God. I used to be so afraid when earthquake hit Bantul in 2007, I was being paranoid that the roof and wall in my house might crumbled anytime and left me buried and finally died. And then I decided to surrender to God, that whatever happen is His willingness. I felt better, it almost like you’re giving the full responsibility to God to take care of you and your life.

Some people though, decided not to surrender. Like Gusti Prabu, one of the son of Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX, in defending the special region of Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta. Gusti Prabu talked very emotionally, almost didn’t elaborate many things because he was just so flaming in telling the reasons why the special identity of Yogyakarta need to be maintained. Like most of, if not all of, Yogyakarta people, Gusti Prabu adores his father. Hamengkubuwono XI is a very important figure for the independence struggle, and played a key role in developing the state which was so young at the moment. Under the reign of Hamengkubuwono XI, Yogyakarta was the first area in Indonesia that decided to join into Indonesia. This decision was a big deal. Because, as Gusti Prabu explained, there is no single state in the world that will voluntarily merge into another country. It will decrease or even erase its sovereignty. After August 19 1945, Keraton Yogyakarta no longer have its bilateral relationship with another country or kingdom. Sultan Hamengkubuwono no longer became the First Man. But he now had responsibility toward the state government. Yogyakarta also had an important role in defending the independence. Dutch did not stop the effort to regain the power in Indonesia. They had 2 aggressions, in which resisted by Yogyakarta. Keraton spent its diamond savings to buy arms for guerrilla war, and gold savings to support the governance. With all these sacrifices, it is insulting for the royal family when the issue of special region is brought up by the central government.

Unfortunately, this fiery session from Gusti Prabu missed some argumentative details. He shortly mentioned the point that democracy is not always the way out. There are some countries or area that able to stand out with its own uniqueness, but he continued with more anger toward the central government. I sort of hope that there will be a lot more fruitful discussion with Gusti Prabu. However, to see the emotional explanation from the Prince was a new interesting experience for me and for us. I believe that everyone weren’t totally convinced that the special region of Yogyakarta has to be maintained. Even Pak Llyod suggested that this mechanism will not be survived within 15 years. Meanwhile I insist that this status and mechanism will always take place.

I have to admit that my stance is quite emotional too. Cindhi and I once had a discussion with Mbak Azizah, a lecturer of political science in Universitas Gadjah Mada. She raised 2 reasons on why the special mechanism in Yogyakarta government needsto be re-considered. First of all, Yogyakarta people are stuck with the idea that special status is identified with non-election system for governor and vice governor. This kind of attitude is, in some ways, degrading the meaning of specialty itself. We need to broad our understanding that Yogyakarta gains its special status because of many more reasons; its history, its culture, its harmony, and so on. Second, the contract between Hamengkubuwono IX and President Sukarno about the special status is still debatable. This contract is used by most people as the main reason to maintain the special system; because there was such a contract. But then again, the contract only mentioned the name of Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX. It can be interpreted that after Hamengkubuwono IX passed away, the contract is finished. I found that Mbak Azizah’s arguments were making a lot of sense. But I just can’t change my stance, I just cannot re consider this special system. It is part of the identity. It is part of the dignity.

From those 2 stories, the Merapi survivors and Gusti Prabu’s stance (okay, and my stance), I found a loyalty that you just can’t explained. Some Merapi people refused to be relocate because they have this strong connection with their homeland. They knew that their area is very prone to the disaster, and it will certainly be affected if the eruption ever happens again, God knows when. But they just can’t get over this emotional influence. So do we, the people of Yogyakarta. People can argue that time goes by and democracy is by far the best system, that can guarantee the rights of the citizen. But we too, can argue that in some area, monarchy system is what people want to.

 

Day 8

We basically had fun. I can’t even believe that the committee really created this kind of schedule. Our destinations were: Sultan palace, lunch in Loving Hut, shopping in Mirota Batik, dancing lessons in Gelanggang Mahasiswa UGM, and home!

The dancing lessons were interesting because we witnessed the different dance characters from 3 parts of Indonesia: Yogyakarta, Bali and Minang. It was only 3 different areas and the dance movements and paces were already different. Yogyakarta style was slow and details, Bali was energetic and passionate, and Minang was fast. They almost represent the character of the people themselves.

I guess another happy thing for today was I got to spend sometime with my parents and my boyfriend. I definitely am recharged!

 

Bulaksumur, June 11 2012