on Islam

Gender Equality


Kalis Mardiasih

Hello, I'm Kalis Mardiasih

Kalis Mardiasih (born in Blora, 16th February 1992) is a young female moslem writer and activist who campaigns for Indonesian diversity and gender equality in Islamic discourse. She writes a weekly column for several digital media, including detik.com, the biggest online digital media in Indonesia. Her article titled Don’t Let Women Left Behind nominated for Anugerah Swara Saraswati Award from Indonesian Women’s Coalition for Justice and Democracy on 2018 categorized in best online media journalism essay. She is based in Yogyakarta, Central Java.

She has published four books sold more than 20 thousands copies nation-wide titled: Berislam Seperti kanak-kanak (Being a Muslim as If You Were a Child), Muslimah yang Diperdebatkan (the Contested Muslimah), Hijrah Jangan Jauh-Jauh Nanti Nyasar (Never Hijrah Too Far: You Might Get Lost!), and Sisterfillah, You’ll Never Be Alone!.

My Books

Why are women always wrong? Why can't they speak up? Why should women be the most sincere, the most patient, and the least resistance? —Women's Body and Respect for Life

Kalis Mardiasih has been known to the public when her writing entitled “Sebuah Curhat Untuk Girlband Hijab Syar’i (A Confession For Syar'i Hijab Girlband)” was published on Mojok.co website and was shared more than 17 thousand times. Since then, Kalis has been writing frequently and her writing has never shifted away from femininity issues.

The narrative written by Kalis in her books focuses on the body, veil, humanity and religiosity of women. Finally, happy reading!

Lately, Islam is considered as must be an empire, must try to conquer others through indoctrination processes and even coercion, must be close to the word "Islamic victory" or "Islamic glory", even for some Muslims it must be in the form of tribes war like in the pre-prophetic times. Islam in that descriptions, is not the Islam in Kalis imagination.

Kalis Mardiasih is concerned about the religious phenomenon which in the hands of some circles is so exclusive and creepy. For her, religion should be fun, filled with kindness, not suffocated by anger or conquering desire.

She finds these virtues in simple religious practices. She talks with modest people, witnesses their way of practicing piety, and finds a calm Islam there. Within herself, Islam grows together with joy.

Why do most books that talk about women are written by men? When talking about women, there are more reasons why women “go to hell younger”, women like showing off their body, they like gossiping and etc.

In fact, it is said that those who criticize and talk about women the most are fellow women. Is it true? Is there nothing that women can do for their fellow women, even starting from small things?

This book is a book about women written by a fellow woman. Women may be gentle, but women are also tough warriors. Women are beautiful; the beauty is not merely from their well-dressed or make up, but also because of their intelligence that makes them shine.

Latest Essay

The Political Stage of Women Against Sexual Harassment

 "Women today are getting fierce. They easily scream about sexual abuse. They easily state about sexual violence emergency. When they get whistling on, they get angry. When they are teased via live chat, they report on social media. Spooky". Such things are the old tradition that were considered normal to feel anxious and confused about a new norm: a culture against sexual harassment!

We are in an episode: a male politician tweeted about the thigh of a female politician. The thighs of the candidate for deputy mayor of Tangsel are very smooth, he said, consciously and openly. In fact, Rahayu Saraswati, the deputy mayor candidate, was on her sporting agenda that morning, of course she was wearing sports clothes.

Cipta Panca Laksana's verbal sexual harassment is similar to a murky ripple that illustrates the great challenge of women in the public sphere. Interestingly, this is not about gender. Sexism is not the face of men, but the face of anyone with a feeling of power which aims to make the weaker party helpless, feel inferior, feel guilty, question themselves so that they can then be powered and controlled. In fact, Panca missed. He chose the wrong opponent.

In an open social media, perpetrators of harassment choose to comment on women's body shapes, women's lipstick colors, women's clothes to women's marital status rather than measuring women's ideas that are conveyed according to their academic background and political activities. It could be that he is unable to keep up with women's ideas. It could be that she is a product of a world that is too male from the previous century which is still surprised by the existence of smart women. In his world in caves, he still thinks women are created as slaves and servants.

In a meeting room, an official aged around fifty feels normal to harass student interns in government agencies. Unwanted winks, glances and touches, uncomfortable gesture codes, and sexually charged texts are being intensified. We have not counted how many manipulation techniques to counter the ideas of women. With a little loud voice, just call women as emotional creatures. Many refute opinions in forums, let's say that women are in a monthly cycle. Fighting for the fate of women, children and vulnerable groups, let's say that being sensitive to taking things personally is a women's hobby.

First, sexual harassment is always a matter of power relations, and political structure is the profession with the most recent power. In the decades since democracy has given women the opportunity to enter the political stage, sexual harassment has just been normalized because the existing structure can threaten anything to the structure under it. There is a myth that the structure of parties, government agencies, religious institutions, companies and campuses should be institutions that are free from "embarrassing" news. Now, that myth is being challenged. It would be shameful for any institution to perpetuate the tradition of abuse against women! Institutions that can respond quickly to acts of sexual violence by taking sides with the vulnerability of victims will become respected and trusted institutions.

Second, the normalization of sexual harassment is supported by the normalization of the view that women's bodies must comply. The body that has been made submissive, the mind and attitude easily subjected to it. In the timeline, netizens condemn the perpetrators, but also at the same time advise women to dress "properly". Similar to the question, can women in public spaces still be good partners and mothers at home? Men have never checked similar demands. The next question is: what is the standard of propriety?

Recently, the wave of the Muslim fashion industry has had a significant influence on shifting the norms of appropriateness for women's clothing. Although, since the past the wearing of the headscarf has had a significant influence on political correctness, so that corrupt suspects always wear a headscarf impromptu in courtrooms. Today, the discourse on the hijab continues to develop in the social landscape of Indonesia. The Alvara Research Institute report in the 2019 Indonesian Moslem Report records that the number of women wearing headscarves in Indonesia reaches more than 75%.

In Public Schools, without any written basis, there is an unwritten agreement regarding the shape of the long uniform, for both women and men. Many stories of girls who do not veil or wear long uniforms receive direct reprimands from their teachers or school principals. If not immediately, the discomfort of being an unveiled minority could stem from constant insinuation or advice to get veiled immediately. What is the reason behind that? Nothing. It is only fitting of social compliance that today the majority of women wear Muslim fashion trends.

In the village, mothers go to a celebration event with the latest Muslim fashion models. Mothers don't really define what is syar'I and not syar'I according to today's standards, but it's the fashion models that they can find in the market and become trends. Industry trends are setting new standards of propriety to the point that young girls have been affected by these trends.

As a choice of clothing for women, of course this Muslim fashion wave is dynamic. As with other cultural products, clothing trends will continue to dialogue with the community as consumers of that cultural product. Products that are functional, comfortable with creative power for beauty will win human needs and imagination for a quality item.

The problem arises when the trend of Muslim fashion for women does not move in line with women's awareness of a stronger self-agency. Women, by their choice of dress, must not be harassed and cannot become victims of violence.

The fight against sexual harassment began to become a global movement with the hashtag #MeToo in 2017. Starting with the New York Times and New Yorker reports on alleged sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape committed by Harvey Weinstein against more than 80 women in the film industry, women from the whole world agreed to start talking about their experiences of sexual violence.

In 2018, the #MosqueMeToo movement emerged to escalate stories of sexual harassment experiences which are experienced by women when doing the Hajj and pilgrimages in holy places. A Pakistani Muslim woman, Sabica Khan, who first wrote her experience on Facebook deleting posts out of fear, but was greeted with support from women around the world who then began to share their stories. In Egypt, in July 2020, for the first time the mass media ran a survey of sexual harassment headlines. According to the survey, 32% of women who wore a hijab were sexually harassed, 21% of women without a hijab, followed by 20% of women with wide abayas. After that, the Instagram account @assaultpolice routinely monitors complaints of sexual harassment in academics and workplaces. This account is also an initiative of the movement for education against sexual harassment of women in Egypt.

Rahayu Saraswati's answer was enough to melt my heart. She chose to interpret the event she experienced to remind the public of the high and real rates of sexual violence experienced by women and children who are far weaker and more vulnerable than her. She used the momentum to become a speaker for the voices of victims who had not had the opportunity to speak.

Women's political stage prepares against sexual harassment. Are you still asking about how long these women are keeping loud? The answer, perhaps, is not in the near future they will stop talking. This is because resistance will increasingly make the adherents of the old norms feel uncomfortable. It will not stop until legal protection is upheld for the victims. It will keep going until our society sees women as whole human beings with ideas and awareness, not just a body that can be weakened by power.

Returning the Purpose of Women Supporting Other Fellow Women to the Right Way

 We start a written exam about women supporting other fellow women nowadays.

First case. A Muslimah announced her husband's second marriage. Publicly, on her Facebook account, she posted a picture that she herself led the husband to go on a marriage contract with his young wife. For her, she is a candidate for a heavenly angel, as best she can for a wife who is practicing religious obedience to her husband.

Certainly, many women who do not agree with polygamy respond with various opinions. If someone says that accepting the choice of a partner for polygamy is a form of oppression, does it mean that women who reject polygamy do not support their other fellow women?

Have you started feeling confused? Good. Let's move on to the second case that is often discussed haphazardly: the representation of women in electoral politics.

A woman politician from a major party in Indonesia was caught in corruption. People began to argue that women's representation in politics was not important. After all, it's the same! It's all about corruption, too. The woman politician in question also came from the party's founder family. As a woman, she easily beat male competitors in the same party. For sure, it is because of the oligarchy.

Should we stop supporting women just because there are corrupt female politicians? If you get more confused, I am going to add one more case.

A woman consciously has a relationship with a man who is still legally in marriage to his wife. People know the popular term "pelakor" to refer to this situation although to me, I don't like to use that term. The legal wife then spilled the photos and identity of the woman through social media to get a boisterous response from other women. Ouch, the term from 'emak-emak (grown up female --especially with kids) is also very pejorative today. Those terms are always presented in the nuances of gossip and uproar, even though mothers (emak-emak) in the real world are productive figures and family heroes.

Okay, back to the cases. From a distance, one woman will be scratching each other. There is a team of legal wives, there is a team of other women. Then, women supporting women will be concluded as a myth.

Women supporting other fellow women is the awareness that women as a vulnerable group must support each other from other vulnerable groups. This awareness has a belief that women's body experiences and social experiences are easier for their fellow women to understand. Women experience menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and these experiences can be felt more by their fellow women. Women experience the discomfort of being asked when to get married, when they are pregnant, being labeled naughty because they come home late at night and being labeled as a seducer of men because of their single or widowed status. It should be easier for women to solidify against harassment and the stigma that befell women in an oppressive culture of society because they experience similar difficulties.

In the first case, it is about a woman who accept the choice of her husband for polygamy, the task of "empowering" is to examine women's awareness as a whole. Not to undermine the choice of women who accept polygamy, but to educate fellow women that women can have decisions and may disagree with their partners. If polygamy occurs because women are taught as parties who cannot go against the husband's decision, or if women are taught that they will get the highest reward and obedience only through polygamy, of course resistance to that doctrine is the right thing.

In this case, not supporting women in polygamy is a form of resistance to domination that suppresses women's consciousness and choices.

The second case, women politicians who come from big party families are not weak subjects. She has power, capital and popularity that are taken for granted without having to go through any meaningful struggles. If this figure has other female competitors who really proceed from the ground up by bringing the political aspirations of women into account, we know where we have to give our support. Even if this figure has male competitors who really proceed from the ground up bringing women's political aspirations, we must support men who have a vision rather than representation of women who come from oppressive structures.

The most common example that we often encounter is the wife of a district head who runs for a district head because her husband can no longer run for the job. Does this woman's representation represent a weak political aspirations of women? Or is it limited to an extension of the political interests of the ruling structure or even an extension of the political interests of her husband?

In the third case, once again, we must examine who the real bully is. Women who consciously have relationships with men who have legal partners certainly do not need to be defended. However, bullying her on the internet or spreading her personal information, still makes her a victim. Please note, there is a male figure who is irresponsible and has denied commitments that must also be discussed, not only to increase the stigma against single women.

When I am asked, as a woman, what things can we do to “support women”? What I do for myself is commit to the smallest things in our lives. For example, I employ female domestic workers who is pregnant. I give her the flexibility to change her work schedule if at any time she has to go to the hospital for pregnancy control. I also often open conversations with her about reproductive health and women's rights. Simple activities like this are actually political events to advocate for the rights of fellow women.

A research report from the Harvard Business Review titled Men and Women Need Different Kinds of Networks to Succeed found that women who succeed in reaching the highest leadership positions in their careers are more likely to have female mentors who provide female workers with personal information about company culture so they can prepare interview strategies and negotiation appropriately. This makes perfect sense, because an institution with masculine dominance that underestimates women's abilities will forever not believe in women's abilities. We can only make structural and cultural changes through women supporting other fellow women!

The old norm taught women to compete with each other. The women are educated by television soap operas to suspect each other, blame each other and bring down each other. Women supporting other fellow women want to prove that women can work together and support each other to strengthen women who have been considered weak. Yes, you can.

Removing An Outdated Sexual Assault Myths

 Let's hurry up and get our business on removing this outdated myth of sexual violence quickly resolved. The first myth, men are cats that are not strong when treated to salted fish. Sometimes, the male turns into a fly that surrounds unpacked candy. Men are not cats and are not flies. Men are humans who are no longer primitive. He received education in mathematics, language and moral training since he was deemed capable enough to communicate. Animals do not receive knowledge in educational and religious institutions.

Over the centuries, animals had stopped in the process of evolution to simply fulfill the power of gut and sex. To this day, animals are still killing each other but they are killing each other for a source of food. Meanwhile, humans, since farming and living in an area have decided to build a life system that is more impartial and non-violent.

Men are human beings with all human potential who can educate themselves not to rape. Men are human beings with all human potential who can distinguish between haq (rightness) and bathil (falsehood).

The second myth, women who dress up or wear certain clothes mean to invite men to tease her. Please stop this Ge-eR (feeling too much confidence) from the past. Women dress up to love themselves. A woman wears clothes that she likes according to function and respects her own feelings. Women never assume anything about the clothes worn by men. So, men also don't need to guess the meaning of women's clothes. Even more foolish, certain clothes of a woman mean that she is ready to be raped. It is foolishness above foolishness. The problem is that elementary school students who wear school uniforms are victims of rape. Santriwati (female students of an Islamic boarding school) who wore full length clothes became victims of rape. The wife, who wears daily clothes in the house as usual, who can ask for consent for sexual intercourse, can easily become a victim of rape.

Myth number three three, the silence of women means a yes. It's wrong. A woman who is silent means that she doesn't know how to make a deal, is in doubt, or is even in a position of fear.

Junior high school students who are victims of sexual violence by teachers will remain silent when they start being seduced or threatened. This is not a sign that they agree, but fear due to lame domination of power. The California Commission of Judicial Performance also published a research on tonic immobility, which is a condition of temporary paralysis when a victim experiences sexual assault. This temporary paralysis is said to be similar to the condition of catatonia, which is a condition in which a person cannot move, speak, and respond to any stimulation the body receives.

The incident of rape is not always as described by the film in the form of screaming, resistance and then escaping from the perpetrator. Some rape incidents did not even involve violence. For example, rape of a biological father (as perpetrator) to his own child, which was committed since the victim was a child. The perpetrator gave unwanted touches to the victim's genitals and body. The victim understands the action as harmless. The perpetrator began to penetrate the victim's genitals. The perpetrator manipulates the victim so that the victim doesn't fight back. The victim felt it was something strange and hurt her body, but the victim, a 7 year old girl, could not define what happened to her.

One time, the child victim felt pain in her genitals. He told the event of what she experienced to her mother. The mother who grew up in a traditional culture did not understand sexual violence either. She chose to ignore the story of violence experienced by the child, asked the child to forget and advised her not to tell it to anyone. After all, the father is still the head of the family whose honor must be guarded, said by the mother.

The trauma that remains on the body cannot be deceived. When the child is an adult, she begins to be exposed to information about sexual violence. She wanted to start a fight, even though she had not yet got a clue which point to pass.

Myth number four, when two people are in a romantic relationship, then automatically the partner has the right to do anything to the other partner. This is a myth that is quite complicated to break down, but this time we have to keep it up. In a simple way, your partner is not an item. When you buy a new cell phone, then you are free to do anything and any time with it. But, again, your partner is not an item.

Your partner is indeed a human who has a will and has rights to decide anything for their life.

When two people get married, the traditional perception is suddenly to divide household duties into the duties of the wife and the duties of the husband. The wife's duty is to be obedient, submissive and must not against, including for matters of sexual relations. As if, sexual relations are only the needs of the husband (male). In fact, both women and men have sexual desire. Sexual relations in marital relationships must be carried out equally, mutually willing and based on affection. Not control, domination and threat.

The agreement to have sexual relations also applies to a husband-wife relationships. The terms of this matter may change and may be updated. For example, wives require their husbands to always clean their genitals before having sex because female genitals are more susceptible to bacteria, fungi and other sources of disease. The agreement should also be clear and pronounced not in a drowsy or helpless state from exhaustion.

Does it sound too much? No, It doesn't. Values that sound new must be supported if they are for the good of all humans. Understanding consent is not something complicated. The understanding of consent, which is always respecting the agreements and approval made by a partner, is actually very simple and very cool.

Myth number five, the perpetrator's future will be destroyed if the victim announces cases of sexual violence to the public. This is ridiculous. The destruction of the perpetrator's future is due to the violence he committed against the victim. Perpetrators lose their positions because perpetrators of sexual violence do not deserve to have positions. Perpetrators lose social status because perpetrators of sexual violence do not deserve respectable status. As devastating as the perpetrators were, the most devastated were victims who suffered physical damage, lost confidence in themselves, endured emotional wounds and felt worthless for life.

There are such the myths about sexual violence. Oh ya, and if someone still believes that the victim was sexually assaulted because she came home late at night, remember that perpetrators of sexual violence can deceive victims in the house, in the classroom, and also in the office. Anytime, when the perpetrator's brain shrinks into a shit.

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