We can encounter talks about sexuality in various discussions – literature being one of them. Evolving from time to time, Indonesian literature have been continuously taking sexuality as their commonly shared theme. The sensitive topic might appear like nothing when men bring it up, but when female authors or poets convey the theme onto their works, how do you think would the society react?
The answer would probably lie along impropriety. Women and sexuality have always been considered as a sinful combination – a never-ending taboo. There is a thin line of invisible rule that states Indonesian women – who have been seen by the eyes of the world as the symbol of gentleness – are not allowed to put their thoughts about sexuality on a basket of written paragraphs (and with inappropriate, erotic vocabularies or phrasings on top of that).
However, the said never-ending taboo seems to have reached its dead-end. Feminism and the steady improvement of technologies are only the few factors that ignite the path of women to finally express what they want to. Through the words they juxtaposed in their literature masterpieces, Indonesian women are finally breaking through the wall of discrimination and inequality that have been setting them apart from reality ever since the country was born.
Ayu Utami and her phenomenal novel – Saman (1998) – is one of the first Indonesian authors who had grabbed a handful of courage and willingness in order to change women’s mindset about who they truly are. Utami believes that women are not supposed to over-think about their virginity because by the time they start worrying, any sexual crimes done would make them the sole victim – the one living in social discrimination and psychological dolor – rather than the wrongdoer who would merely receive law-based punishments.
Following Utami, Djenar Maesa Ayu had also taken a huge step forward in leading Indonesian women into a room of freedom. She conveyed her opinions regarding gender inequality through one of her short stories, Menyusu Ayah (2002), that has received various feedback from the society due to its extraordinarily daring story line. Djenar Maesa Ayu had shone brightly with both courage and willingness as she wrote about how women are not always the ones being sexually harassed; they can also be the ones sexually corrupting men.
Alongside Ayu Utami and Djenar Maesa Ayu, there are still a lot of women who are now seen as Indonesian authors or poets who managed to break through the (finally crumbling) walls of taboo through the beautiful juxtaposition of tingling words with fully expressed morals and personal opinions on sexuality.
Now, onwards with the most important question: Are you a woman of the current generation with enough courage and willingness to take a step forward with them?
Written by Diazca Adizsa