Sunday, June 11, 2006

Indonesian and other women will liberate themselves.

Given the challenges facing women in Indonesia, many in the West have attempted to apply Western models or solutions there. Having Indonesia meet Western standards is neither realistic nor helpful, particularly if we consider the status of women in the West.

Catching up to Western women so far has had Indonesian girls longing for an ultra-thin body, getting sick trying to diet all the time. Ads for diet pills are commonplace and feature beautiful 14-year-old girls who take pills and shrink before your very eyes.

Indonesians often think of Western women as the standard of beauty: Tall, straight, and pale. When considering their own bodies, Indonesian women feel inferior, and perceive their own culture as inferior. This robs Indonesian women and girls of any innate sense of pride and diminishes their ability to celebrate diverse body types.

When half of a society is oppressed, nobody is free. If women are denied the chance to be productive and healthy on that productivity, so are men. When women suffer fatigue and lack freedom, how can their children help but suffer from these same things?

Deep in the belly of women everywhere, right in the centre of their guts, is the desire for something more, and the desire for less burden. I don’t know the philosophies or politics of every woman, but everywhere I’ve been, women struggle for some form of liberation.

The goal for Indonesian women is not to adopt a Western model of being, but to rediscover what the Indonesian woman once had: equality with Indonesian men in an effort to live in a sustainable and healthy peace.

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