Everyone’s mind was blown by Emma Watson’s speech about gender equality. It was done splendidly indeed. But I thought, is that really as far as the problem goes? I think different places differs in nearly everything, and so perhaps for this matter it could just be the same. Emma explains as far as how feminism by hating men has to stop, or how boys can feel intimidated the moment they feel fragile because “its not manly”, how a father’s position is not as valued as a mother’s and many others that we might miss because it does not exactly meet the eyes nowadays. So I thought, okay at some point its society customs vs gender equality.
But some small matters that’s going on around me made me realize, the problem in some places has rooted even deeper as something naturalized. Its taken as something as a custom as society, just like boys are not supposed to be fragile or weak or the issues around glass ceiling. It’s quite complicated to explain cause inside my head is jammed with heaps of stuffs, so why not just take a detour with a short story.
So I was sitting in my first German course for this semester and the teacher was throwing a huge dice at us and whichever got it has to make several sentences (depends on the number they got) with especially verliebt, verlobt, verheiratet (fell in love, engaged, married). So at some point there’s this one Indian girl who got her turn and she stunned the whole class by stating that she has been married for four years, however it was an arranged marriage. The teacher asked for details and she explained, that time her mom asked if she already has a boyfriend, and since she had none so her mother look for a man for her to marry. Shortly, that’s how it was and she said she actually agreed to it. I was surprised because hey, I don’t think this is not even common anymore in Indonesia. Perhaps maybe in very rural villages.
However the problem differs. Ok let me get this straight first. This is not about cheesy reasons like love or finding your own dream guy. No because that would totally be out of topic. What I meant was, for instance in my age it is common for parents to start nagging their children for marriage. You know the phrase. A woman, 35 and not married? Well, she’s expired. A man, 35 and not married? Is he rich or good looking? Either one then he might be a catch.
In Indonesia, especially at around 25 the questions would never be far from: “Are you dating someone? You plan to marry ’em? How many kids?” Well, if you draw an inference then the ladies are rushed to find a husband before 30, otherwise they’ll “expire” and on the other hand, the guys are supposed to save as much money as possible, establish their career in order to be “eligible” to start a family. Its like its mandatory. You’ll be a deviant if not, cause unlike in Western countries, its a sin to live with your significant other if you are not married. So marriage is not exactly just an option to both genders, its mandatory. Especially for woman, if you live with a guy whose not your husband (yet, they say) then you’ll be seen equally as a prostitute. The man? Oh maybe he’s just a bad guy, or a womanizer. Having kids goes the same. What happens with the phrase that having kids is not for everyone? If you don’t want kids then you’re selfish, “Who will take care of you when you’re old? Why don’t you think of your parents feelings who want to see some grandchildren from you?” And depends on the case, it could be bad for either gender. “Woman, no kids? If she doesn’t have medical issues then she must be heartless!!” Man, no kids? “Without offspring, who would inherit our family business?” But you know what’s worse? Unplanned pregnancy. “Abortion? its illegal here because only heartless people do that.” Now tell me whose heartless if someone is forced to make a life-changing decision just because the society says so. You forced them to do so, but for the weight they shall carry for the rest of their lives, will you always be there to support them too? I don’t think so.
So its more like, social customs has bound both genders to a certain point that they don’t have much space to make the important choice for their own life and that’s just preposterous. But my current question is, does anyone else except me consider this as gender equality problem?