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Saturday, January 30, 2021

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.


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.

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