Act, Show and Prove!
Jeannette Josephine Mintardjo, Scranton Scholar of Duta Wacana University in Indonesia
I believe in overcoming violence and I think it is not naive to believe in it. I’m also aware that this has something to do with gender roles in my society. The classifications of rights and responsibilities through the perspectives of strong and superior male impacts the way my “world” treated women and it is not okay to stay constant with this worldview. I happened to face violence physically and also through verbal communication in my daily life at home that eventually lead me to what I believe as women’s rights.
I remembered clearly that one morning I woke up with my papa yelling at me. He was mad because me and my sister woke up late by half an hour than we are supposed to. He said that it was, it is, and it always will be our responsibility to make sure everything is clean and perfect in the house. “I would not see my daughter doing nothing while there’s even a single dirty plate on the table or a single dirty shirt lying on the floor!” Those rules, does not apply to any of our brothers. There was no excuse even for schoolwork. Somehow we have to manage ourselves. It does not mean that my papa does not love their daughters. But he clearly divides us, daughters and sons, by our gender. When the day is rough, my papa would throw things at me and my sister if we put our study first than our house-work. My brother gets along with this idea and said to us “there is no use for both of you to study hard. You will become wives and serve us men”. My sister and I, we were disparate and long for something to rescue us from this worldview. We were eager to learn and build social network through church also school. But we do not have the time. It was always never enough to do all the house-work and school-work at the same time. We envy our brothers.
We decided that this verbal violence that we get throughout the day would not determine our future. It is only if we heal our past that we shall be able to build the future, as difficult and time-consuming though this may be. We would not let ourselves believe in those hurtful words, where we as young women were seen as people in the second level, a not-so-important people. We started to change our vocabulary in responding to the attitudes that were shown to us at home. Where we were labeled “useless”, we told ourselves and our family that we are “helpful” and eager to learn. We started to study hard in our spare time about our strength and weaknesses. My sister is best at dancing and psychology. She put a huge effort to show our parents how she shines bright in those fields. I, myself, love to read and study theology also environmental science. I showed my parents how to reduce and recycle more papers and plastics, reduce the use of warm-water when it is not needed, in the light of environmental science and its correlation to the meaning of human participation in caring for the citizen of the world. These efforts, these non-violence resistances, pay off! My papa lessen his hurtful words to me and my sister and rather encourage me, my sister and brothers to help each other in doing house-work, even to study together for school.
Through my study in the fifth semester at college, I read about the challenge of heteronormativity in our society, where gender roles of men and women are seen to be natural roles in life. This idea challenge all of society level where there are so many anomaly out there that these gender roles harm and degrade the capabilities of women, the participation of women to make this world all better living. And we, as women and men in this whole new perspective of stopping violence against women, should tell more stories about non-violence resistance. It is only by non-violence resistance that we are able to see our dream comes true, the elimination of violence against women. It is only by believing in resistance to violence even violence “for good cause” that we are able to define women’s rights to participate in social change. We need to start changing our vocabulary in responding to violence. From my perspective, it starts from the family, where the non-violent conflict resolution is something fundamental and is the heart of women’s rights. If a woman cannot be safe in her own house, then she cannot be expected to feel safe anywhere.