Shades of LOVE from Women’s March in Jakarta


Kegiatan women’s march di Jakarta berlangsung dengan penuh semangat. Lebih dari seribu perempuan, laki-laki, trans, nonkonformis, dan lainnya, bersatu menyuarakan 8 tuntutan untuk meniadakan diskriminasi, melanggengkan toleransi, meningkatkan representasi perempuan di politik, perlakuan yang setara, persatuan global, dan lain-lain.

clubPAW meliput women’s march di Jakarta dan juga mewawancarai beberapa peserta march tentang alasan mereka ikut bergabung dan apa yang ingin mereka suarakan.

clubPAW

A large mass consisting of friends and allies of women organized a women’s march this Saturday (3/4) morning in front of the Indonesian Presidential Palace. One of clubPAW authors participated in the march to witness LOVE in what was really the start of something historic in Jakarta. While capturing moments from the ground, clubPAW also gathered personal stories from some people who marched as well.

We at clubPAW believe that the women’s march movement that has been embraced by many major and small cities globally signifies something larger: a hope. A hope that there are many out there who are still persevering in the fight for equality and love. Skeptical and ignorant people are still out there and the only way to turn them to our side is by engaging in healthy dialogues and exchanging ideas. And the march has at least provided an avenue for many to express and…

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We Should All Stop Being Feminists


This article was first published by Magdalene on 21 October 2016 and was included on their Weekly Top 5 Posts for two consecutive weeks. Click here to go to their site.


“You’re either for Hillary or you’re a misogynist,” a friend said once as I was trying to explain to her why I rooted for Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic presidential candidacy a few months ago.

I was surprised, to say the least. Not because she called me a misogynist, which, by the way, I definitely am not, but because I didn’t expect her to be one of those self-proclaimed feminists who believe that it shouldn’t matter whether a woman is capable or not as long as women get their voices heard.

But it’s not entirely wrong. I think during the early time of feminist movement; when women were not even allowed to go out of their homes without male companions – let alone run for a political office – that was certainly the case, but certainly not now.

Women no longer have to just accept whatever they are given. I think it is just as demeaning to say that a political figure should get elected based on the sheer fact that she is a woman as to say that a woman isn’t capable of assuming leadership positions at all.

There are so many things going in my head right now, but I’m trying not to bore everyone who is reading this and consequently fail at conveying what I’m trying to convey, so I will cut to the chase: I believe there’s something wrong with today’s feminist movement.

I only have anecdotal occurrence and findings instead of statistics, to support this assertion, but I’m seeing a lot of people claiming to be feminists, working to change things for the better and all, but beneath all these things they’re doing, their purpose is not to solve the problems, but  to preserve them.

Feminism, for some people, is nothing but a good business stunt. Women can work but of course with less salary for equal work. Women can access education, but of course their opinions don’t matter as much as men’s do. Women can run for political offices, but of course they’re never meant to actually win. If they do, we’re all screwed up.

Most of the time, I shy away from describing myself as a feminist. Not because I don’t think I am, but because I think being a feminist isn’t something you just suddenly get to be as soon as you called Trump out for his sexist comments against Megyn Kelly or as soon as you quote a line from Wollstonecraft – which you did not even bother to actually read, by the way – and post it as your Instagram caption. Being a feminist, ideally, is a life-long commitment which should, unquestionably, be the universal norms everyone conforms to. And everybody should be one.

I imagine that one day; civilization would progress to the point when we get to call people out for not being a feminist instead of singling out those who are – as is arguably the case today. This is why I believe that the end goal should be to stop being a feminist. Not because being a feminist is a bad thing, not at all, but because as long as we “have” to be a feminist, it means that the world remains the same: full of misogynistic and sexist views, gender biases, discrimination against people of different sexual orientation and gender identities, restrictions against gender expressions, and all those outrageous things that appall us. I figure the moment we get to stop explaining to everyone else why and how we’re a feminist, we may finally get to ask people why they are not one for a change.

Now I’m pretty sure that many are dismissing me as an unrealistic delusional self-proclaimed feminist who knows nothing. And you’re probably not wrong. But isn’t it exhausting having to constantly defend yourself against people who think that you aren’t normal because your views go against their narrow set of norms and indoctrinated beliefs? Or having to ceaselessly criticize the media and individuals for writing or saying something ignorant against people who don’t fall into their zone of conformity? Or having to explain to your parents, friends, and strangers that just because you don’t find discussing about sexuality and gender or standing up against demeaning patriarchal norms to be taboo or even forbidden, doesn’t mean you’re an immoral hypersexual liberal pervert who is obsessed with sex.

For me, at least, it is exhausting.

And as much as I cherish the opportunities to talk about these things, I want it to be more of a casual thing to do. Not something that is “too intellectual” that some people are allergic to or something that chases people out of the room before the discussion even begins, because they feel uncomfortable talking about penises and vaginas and breasts and everything else that goes beyond the physical dimension of it.

That actually brings us to another problem. It isn’t a secret that a considerable number of feminists feel as if being a feminist granted them the rights to label those who disagree with them degrading adjectives. They mean well, but that’s the thing: everybody means well. The difference is that some people are gracious about it, taking their time trying to inform non-feminists why they should be one while some others can be super obnoxious about it. Instead of informing people, they help cementing this idea that feminists are merely a bunch of millennials who look down on everyone else because they’re so full of themselves.

So, yes, I am deadly serious when I say that we should all stop being feminists who have to explain why we are what we are. Instead, we should hold those who are not feminists accountable. Being a feminist should be the new normal, despite my reservations about anything that starts with the word “norm.” Some people seek higher power to find comfort in life, but people like me aim to actually empower ourselves, and ideally others, without having to deal with the limitations that are there just because they have always been there; not because they are there.

Regulating Sex


The place where someone was born in is a biological/geographical accident. It just so happens that the person my parents conceived turned out to be me. The rest is a series of events that I designed for myself. Can I possibly be someone completely in contrast to who I am today? Yes, but that would be highly uncomfortable. Not because I’m not supposed to be anything else, but because I don’t want to.

The faith that everybody kept on telling me I was born with is a, quoting Santayana, “historical accident”. It just so happens that some random Arabic/Indian merchants—as history suggests—sailed to locations that centuries later comprise the Indonesia we know now. Had it been the Jews that came over and persuaded locals to subscribe to their faith, I—and many more of us—would’ve been ‘born’ a Jew—so to speak. Had it been the Romans, I would’ve been born a Catholic. We can argue for 40 days and nights and some of you self-righteous Muslims will probably insist that this is not the case; that your God intended things to be as they are now and I’ll try to understand your reasoning but that’s where you fail to provide any merits to your assertion: reason is absence from your dictionary.

28covershulevitz-blog427Image Source

So when I found out that a group of people calling themselves defenders of family values (Aliansi Cinta Keluarga; AILA) are attempting to make a case at the Constitutional Court of outlawing sex outside of marriage as well as to have the law classifies being an LGBTQIA+ person as criminal offense, I felt extremely appalled; at the fact that these people actually think it is acceptable to force everyone to subscribe and live by a certain set of rules derived from the words of their supposed god. They call it salvation—rescuing others to salvage themselves; which is fucked up because even the kindest thing they mean to do is motivated by the most selfish drive possible.

For those of you who concur that it should be a thing for the state to be regulating whatever the fuck anyone does by consent and responsibly with their penises and vaginas and everything else, then fuck you too. I cannot possibly be loyal to a country that constantly denies and violates my fundamental rights.

Fuck no.

Transjakarta and an Angry Mob


Last Saturday , I was taking the Transjakarta bus to go home after finishing an errand in Senayan area. There was an unusually crowded queue at the Harmoni central station, but I thought it was to be expected. After all, it was a Saturday and with the MRT construction in the picture, I figured it was normal for the buses to be late.

Almost an hour passed and I was still waiting for a bus to take me to Pusat Grosir Cililitan (PGC). All of the sudden, an older man started shouting words I would rather not repeat in writing. I was standing right behind him so I heard it loud and clear. It was rude and tactless. Turned out, the queue had already waited for almost another hour before I joined them earlier, so I could totally see where the anger came from.

It was only the old man at first. However, more people started joining him. And so it began. An angry mob of Transjakarta dissatisfied customers directing their anger at the station officers who seemed to be unprepared to handle such situation. I felt a little bit uneasy because I thought the mob went a little bit too far with their choices of words so I tried to step aside just so I would not be implicated should things go out of control.

angry-mob

Image Source

This was, of course, not really an uncommon scene to witness in Jakarta; among the busiest cities in the world with one of the worst traffic management. While I thought the mob was being a little bit unfair to the station officers, I also thought that the mob shouted some good arguments, such as “what are you guys doing sitting there doing nothing?” or “can’t you at least inform us of the reason for the tardiness?”

The bigger problem at hand was actually because while there had been no PGC-routed bus for almost two hours, I could estimate that there had been at least 10 Blok M-routed buses passing the station.

The entire thing got more interesting to observe when the shouting turned from random angry words to some sorts of accusations about discriminations in public services. “Of course the Blok M buses are perfectly on schedule. It is for the elites to use. We, lowly commoners, the users of PGC buses, are always treated like this,” shouted another old man whom I assumed is a regular Transjakarta customer.

“That’s right. The Blok M buses are also very convenient. The air conditioner works just fine, the buses are well-maintained, and they are service is good. Nothing like the PGC buses we use,” said a lady far ahead in the front line responding the old man. Two other men added gasoline to the fire by irresponsibly ‘informing’ the crowd that the buses were late because the drivers were taking a longer lunch break than they were supposed to; just like how it is every other day, they said. It obviously enraged the already angry mob and for a second there, I thought there was going to be a riot. The mob then started to shout in agreement.

It seemed like quite many people in this mob were regular Transjakarta customers and they had some real nasty things to say. I realized that these people felt like there was some sort of discrimination in Transjakarta service toward customers based on their destinations. It might sound like a stretch, but as someone who is a moral psychology enthusiast, I beg to differ. Once I saw a TV science program discussing mob mentality. It explained that what individuals do as a group that shares a certain mutual concern tends to be determined by what someone does or says to provoke them to begin with. In other words, the old man who shouted first created the entire situation in which the mob might have felt it was justified for them to say those indecent words in public because they were, in a way, the victims.

I might have over-analyzed the whole thing, but I can attest that living in Jakarta does tend to put people to the brink of frustration on a day-to-day basis. Jakarta’s uneven distribution of wealth and welfare might even become a root of conflicts if left unresolved. It is probably the same in any major cities in developing countries, in which a small group of people gets to enjoy the high life while the remaining majority lives hand to mouth. As more people come to Jakarta annually, let’s hope that what the government is trying to do in order to mend Jakarta’s messed-up traffic is not just another lick and a promise.

Is KPK a Saint?


An edited version of this article was first published by The Jakarta Post on 27 January 2015 paper edition page 8 and online edition as well as by World News on the same date.


For the past few weeks, Indonesia has attracted both domestic and international attention. It all started with the catastrophic accident involving an AirAsia plane flying from Surabaya to Singapore late in December 2014; killing all its passengers and crew members. When the nation was still in shock from the disaster, President Joko Widodo came under scrutiny after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) announced Budi Gunawan, the sole candidate he recommended to the parliament for Chief National Police, as a suspect in an ongoing investigation. KPK stated that the police general allegedly received gratification during his tenure as a high-rank public official. This was soon followed by the controversy surrounding the execution of six death row inmates convicted of drugs trafficking. The Netherlands and Brazil, whom citizens were among the six executed, responded to the execution by retracting their ambassadors from Jakarta.

While all three stories are highly sensitive, what I am going to elaborate in this article is the fraud investigation of Budi Gunawan by KPK.

Since its establishment a little over a decade ago, KPK has become the people’s sweetheart. They are the ones who, amid politics and its dirty magic tricks, keep everything from crumbling down. Many have had to learn the hard way of the legal ramifications of being corrupt; but KPK’s work is surely far from over. Still, what KPK has achieved these past few years is infinitely commendable.

However, there is one issue that I believe so many people try so hard to ignore. No matter how noble KPK’s mission is, those who carry that mission are nothing more than us all ordinary people. Sure, they have the courage to stand up for what is right and do something real about it. But it doesn’t make KPK a bunch of saints. Nor does it make everyone else a sinner.

In an ideal democracy, the power to rule is vested upon those elected by the people. While this is not exactly the case, since electing every single public official directly would be highly inefficient, I believe that Indonesia is headed toward the right direction. KPK, in a way, is the perfect example of how power comes from within the people themselves.

It isn’t a secret at all that KPK has quite a lot of privileges on conducting their work. Sometimes, it even seems like KPK is bound by no rule whatsoever. Many have criticized KPK’s investigation for violating the standards of procedure, but many have also defended the commission saying that KPK is entitled to one or two special treatments.

Things are escalating rather quickly, though, with this KPK vs Budi Gunawan episode. One would need to be very naïve to deny the peculiarity of the seemingly bad timing of everything that has occurred during these past two weeks.

It seem odd when KPK announced Gunawan as a suspect less than a day before he was up to appear before the parliament for a fit and proper test. It seems even odder that the case he was being investigated for has not been heard of for years, which prompted some to speculate if there was any political agenda driving KPK’s decision.

It also seems odd that today (01/23)—ten days after KPK’s decision to make Gunawan a suspect, the deputy chief of KPK, Bambang Widjajanto, has been arrested by the police for allegedly committing perjury or lying under oath in court back in 2010.

So everything seems odd; and now everyone is left confused. While I am sure that everyone will be lining up to support KPK, the same thing cannot be guaranteed for the police. Both are the face of this nation’s law enforcement, but with extremely different reputation. The police are sinners and KPK is, apparently, a group full of saints. The consequence, obviously, is that the police, regardless of the merit of their works, will always be the villain. KPK, on the other hand, will always be the heroes even if the facts suggest otherwise.

I am fully aware of the opinions people will have on me for writing this. Most, I assume, would call me a traitor for defending the “evil” police instead of the “godlike” KPK. That is not the case, though. What I am defending here is the right of every citizen of this nation to be presumed innocence before law regardless of who they are and what they represent. The term “praduga tak bersalah” might be ubiquitous, but nobody seems to remember what it truly means.

One thing for sure is that this mayhem will be over eventually, but it will take time. While we should all be critical watching everything closely, our complete trust shall not rest with anyone but the law.

However things unfold in the end, it should always be kept in mind that “power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Completely trusting either KPK or the police, calling everything conspiracy, is a huge mistake. Everyone sins, just differently one another. In democracy, the highest authority is of the people; and ceding that authority completely to any entity—may it be KPK, the president, the police, anyone at all—is the first step to chaos and total destruction.

Politics, after all, is merely an art of deception.

Foreign Interventions in a Violent Search for a Democratic Middle East


Witnessing what has been going on in at least the last 65 years, it is no surprise that the world seems to think that the Middle East is somehow a lost case of prolonged conflicts and political quarrel. It is as if the Middle Eastern nations were on the brink of failing. And they were. While the instabilities might have been triggered by plenty of reasons, one of the most principal and systemic problem many Middle Eastern nations experience is the authoritarian governance as seen in Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and many others. Recent events have shown that the Middle Eastern people do not hope for the authoritarian regimes they live under to last forever at all; indicating a quest for democracy through democratization that Francis Fukuyama (Roberts 2008) once said as the ultimate form of human government. This leads well to the question that this paper is trying to address: how have foreign forces intervened the process of democratization and its aftermath in the Middle East?

(Image Source: The Jerusalem Post)

In the wake of the Arab Spring phenomenon—originated in Tunisia with its people pleading for president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to end his authoritarian regime followed by the same case in Egypt, Libya, and now Syria (Hamid 2011)—that has caught international attention, everyone has to refine their assessment towards how democracy and democratization in the Middle East can and may be performed.

What has been happening since January 2011 shall not be seen as merely another case of third-world struggle. It is instead a notably important events that might affect the way people see how important democracy is and how democratization can be both violent and nonviolent, especially in the Middle East. Even the nonconservatives (Hamid 2011) have admitted that the democratization might happen for generations for the Middle East, despite their traditional standing that opposes the notion of democratic revolution.

Understanding the democratization in the Middle East can not be done by studying the patterns of such events elsewhere. While it usually emerges as the aftermath of chronic political failure or failing economics, the Middle East does not necessarily align with this generalization as a whole. While the governments may appear to be authoritarian, the Arab Spring-affected nations have been known for their tendency toward democratic culture, which is more of an impossible mission to accomplish.

The involvement of foreign nations as well have affected democratization in the Middle East. The United States, for instance, has been significantly involved in various acts of “democratization“ for the past decade, even more after the September 11 tragedy occured back in 2001. By 2009, the level of annual US democracy aid in the Middle East was more than the total amount spent between 1991 to 2001 (Hamid 2011).

While the United States prefer to call their assistance as democracy aid, it is not necessarily meant to promote democracy in all the good ways. Their democracy aid has been known as demanding in a way that the nations where they are involved in the democratization process are then left with a new government that seems to be a potential allies for the US in the Middle East, often dubbed as the “puppet government.“

To put it based on the evidence found along the way, democratization in the Middle East can be seen both defensive but managed at the same time. Instead of establishing democracy, the process of democratization—with foreign forces like the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) armies involved—somehow appear to rather prevent democracy from taking control than to legitimize its emergence.

(Image Source: Martin Kramer)

How I came to such manner of thinking might be seen as circumstantial but can be rational at the same time. At the early stage, democratization in the Middle East is initiated by the lower to middle class of the society. At the second stage, the urge of establishing democracy clashes with the reigning authoritarian—if not dictatorial—that wish to keep their power for probably decades or even centuries. At the final stage, how the process went define what the result will be. In some cases, people revolution has prevailed, as seen in Tunisia and Egypt. In other cases, the government managed to contain the revolution and gain even more power than before the idea of democratization was unveiled.

Along the way during these three stages of democratization, several external factors play the role of interference. Foreign interventions are one of the most common extra actors, as seen in the involvement of NATO armies in Libya. But sometimes it happen to be more subtle, through the power of media and propaganda, for once, in a form of embedded journalism or even partial news making, prompting false assumptions to be made by the spectators all around the world.

Conclusion

For foreign forces to interfere in the Middle East democratization has always been explained and elaborated as merely a mission of humanity for democracy and freedom out of concern and the dream to establish a perfect democratic world. But that is not the real case at all. Not even remotely. At least not in all cases.

(Image Source: Norwegian Regjeringen)

The United States, as the power player with a long history of intervention in the Middle East region, may often be seen as a very generous nation with a big concern for the whole world to be freed from any forms of restrictions through democratization. The truth is that by being involved in the process, the United States—sometimes joined by its allies—gain much more power along the way on their involvement. In certain cases, it is even possible for them to be in control of deciding who should be governing and how the newborn democracy in the Middle Eastern nations should be run, thus putting them as an invisible power that simply takes down the authoritarian government to then replace it with a “democracy puppet” while they are the ones that call shot and make decisions for the wounded nations. In other words, democratization in the Middle East can be used by foreign nations—most of which happen to be the United States and/or its allies—as a deception to gain control over the region and possibly over its resources and fortune.■

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References

Hamid, Shadi (2011) The Struggle for Middle East Democracy: Why the Arab Street Finally Revolted. The Cairo Review of Global Affairs [Accessed 10/03/2013].

Roberts, Alasdair S. (2008) Empowerment or Discipline? Two Logics of Governmental Reform. Social Science Research Network [Accessed 22/04/2013].