Dr. Phil. Dewi Candraningrum
(Chief Editor Jurnal Perempuan & Universitas Muhammadiyah Surakarta)
In the Southeast Asia such as Indonesia, South Thailand, Malaysia, and Brunei headveil is known as tudung, and then as kerudung in a traditional sense. In Indonesia after the fall of Soeharto in 1998, the veil got novel term and is popularly called jilbab. In modern time, the meaning of jilbab shifted along with the development of women movements around Muslim countries (Mumtaz & Shaheed, 1987; Milani, 1992; Stern, 1939; Stowasser, 1994; Syamsiyatun, 2007; Turner, 1974; Walther, 1993; El Guindi, 1999; Abbot, 1974; Abu-Lughod, 1986, Ahmed, 1992). In Indonesia during authoritarian New Order Era, the wearing of jilbab was forbidden in the state-owned schools and universities. Short before Suharto’s fall, a number of Tarbiyah activists (New-Islamists movement) from state-owned universities insisted and protested the government that they are to be granted permission to wear jilbab in the school and universities. Among them which brought constant grass root fame is Islamist representation whether in sociopolitical or sociocultural arena. One of its defining factors are designed by ideology Al-Ziyy Al-Islami (Islamic dress) calling for decency and conformity to the ultimate Islamic mores. It is rather a pretext of ethics—spirit of Sharia as ideal Ethics—that colors the act of self veiling in Indonesia, and certainly not doctrinal segregation mounted on the founding discourses during the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258) where marriage inflicted conspicuous gender hierarchy that put vast access of divorce and polygamy as well as child custody to “men” (Walther, 1993; Stern, 1939). Self donning imbued Tarbiyah movement is partly evidence of lower and middle classes upward mobilization into upper sociopolitical and sociocultural ruling class. Its ethics impregnate self-discipline, autonomy and morality against corrupting setting. They permeate ethical and spiritual quest for a just Indonesia. Economic crisis is being viewed brought about by unjust greedy capitalism, while social and cultural crisis is being foreseen caused by immoral conduct of Godless behavior. Preceding terrain demonstrates interpenetration and cohabitation among conflicting factors surrounding the practices of self veiling, particularly under the auspices of modern secular capitalism vis-à-vis Islamic purification (Esposito, 2000; Gellner, 1994). Love and hatred configuration frequently embody Muslim women personification and cultural production deliberately as well as unconsciously. It is not merely theological pretext but yet capitalist subtext exemplifying the practice of self veiling.
Photo taken by Hartoyo from website of NGO Our Voice, 2010.
The evolution landscape of Indonesian women veiling will be drawn by implementing Quota Sampling methodology in which non-probability sampling technique wherein the assembled sample—miniature—has the same proportions of individuals (that is women exercising the veil) as the entire population in Indonesia with respect to known characteristics, traits or focused phenomenon—on veiling. The present researcher will divide the Indonesian population into exclusive subgroups. As Java’s inhabitants comprised 60% of Indonesian population, 60 women-interviewee will be chosen by intersecting gender, generational gap/age, geographical location, educational background, as well as stratum of social-cultural, politic, and economy. This works as well to Sumatrans women who comprise 40 interviewees. Afterwards, the researcher will identify proportions of these subgroups in the population. These same proportions will be applied in the sampling process. Subgroups will be leveled based on previous intersection of age and generation: women of their adolescent (15-25), mid-career (26-50), and oldies (50-). Intersection of geographical location: coming from urban, sub-urban, and rural/village. Intersection of classes: low, middle, high economic income, by considering social-cultural, political background. Final intersection will pay attention on the educational background: considering three major stratums: uneducated or educated until elementary-middle-high school, undergraduate of university, and postgraduate. The last aspect will examine how their educational background influence Indonesian women are donning process. The final step ensures that the sample is representative of the entire Indonesian population with manifold aspects to be highlighted. It allows researcher to study traits and characteristics that are noted for each subgroups.
Photo in courtesy of Prof Sakae Maotani.
An engrossing of girls’ narratives are mostly resided in the new social media such as twitter and facebook. Riveting cry, enthralling yield, and mesmeric proclamation of identity are expressed in constant flux in those web-based social friendships. The power of girls is in their stories. These entities are not theories. They are real lives that are being shared, said Dini, a 19 years old student of Universitas Muhammadiyah Surakarta. With her headveil on she displayed many of her photos with friends across Indonesia and Malaysia. Contrary to Dini, Tabitha who received a constant cyber assault from her ultra-orthodox male peers due her bared-headed, are not afraid of displaying herself in several sexy apparel and outfits in the photos section of FB and Twitter. Tabitha has to wear the head veil in her Islam-labeled university unless being ousted from the class if covering her head with none. Sexist comments and frequent Quranic Ayah depicting the torture of the hell are exported by her conservative-peers in comments box, yet she goes fearless. Yet she freed her considered tabooed-body expression with no shadow of angst.
The social media brought together many of head-veiled and bare-headed girls to tell their stories of what is private and discuss how they were using social and digital media to connect with those they never meet in real world. Muslimah girl circle are unaware not acknowledged the virtual media as being invented in the “West”. It is considered and being there as if other’s Allah creature—a sudden creation without previous technological efforts. Though many progressive and rational girls are explicit in crediting social media as changing the dynamics in plural countries like Indonesia throughout the provinces. Hatred speech and dissemination of misogynist messages are prevalent and as intact as in the real discourse among ultra-conservative circle. Others believe that social media and digital media are to bring about positive changes and manifold benefits into their life. To be resided in social media sometimes pushed them to be seen naked. Voyeurism and jealousy are common discussion among them. How they envy with others’ apparel and academic achievements. How they scrutinized boyfriends getting affairs with other girls. “Voyeurism are widespread and creates addiction”, Dini and Tabitha confessed.
“I could not have known about global warming without the social media. The world would not have known. The youth like me will not be able to afford the information without Google”, said Tissa Sasnida, a 20 years old Jakartan who studied at Paramadina University, who describes herself as passionate lover of water and cave. During 2011 and the uprising of flood in Jakarta, she began using Twitter extensively to provide information on the suffering of water in Ciliwung River. She said she would “spam” Twitter youths like her peers to arrive into similar level of awareness and passion in tackling global warming from inside their own behavior. “All my family whom are women and girls, are wearing head veil but me. I didn’t adopt it. My mother used to force me but I have every ways and reasoning defying her tremor”, she recounted. In a panel on Youth Defending Water, Tissa declared that “Now the girls are outspoken in social media because they are the cheapest and affordable tools. Moreover, there is no censorship either from the government or the family. They are every means to experiences liberty and freedom of speech in such way where we could not even afford or do in the real world”. “It is always difficult to talk in the family or even class. We have a clandestine discussion on the sexual and reproductive health with a much senior feminists and those having knowledge in them. Or even about boy friend. Many of us even get their boy friend via Facebook. Having boy friend from Facebook which happened to be our school mates are not dangerous anymore like being aired on television”.
Girls are blessed with the social media especially in a country heavily rooted on the taboo word in discussing the body. Women bodies are site of battlefield, and girls are sometimes aware with it, by politicking behind their teachers, lecturers and parents, for having underground discussion with their peers. Social Medias are fertile lands they can occupy extensively since many parents are illiterate with high-tech virtual world. Many of whom surrounded celebrity as they were finally able to meet and find their role model in person despite the fact that it happens solely in virtual monitor. Many parents are buying their children laptop if not flat monitor computer at home. And many not surprisingly have connected to the cyber world. Parents are unaware that their girls already understood what they cannot even talk at home, say sexual intercourse: what it is; what safe sex is; what condom is; and how sexual intercourse is being performed. Tissa shared a moving story about how she met one of her favorite feminist on Twitter and learnt a lot about women body via @JurnalPerempuan (Indonesian leading Feminist Journal). The tomboy girl felt she was a hostage to immobility until she read Jurnal Perempuan via Facebook and Twitter. Inspired, she let other girls knew it and learnt how to rebel at home and schools. They learnt how to speak against street abusers and their classmates who happened harassed them sexually. “There is no law prohibiting women from defying sexual abusers whoever they are and wherever they met”, said Achi Dwi Astari, close friend of Tissa. Many girls now join her breaking the taboo in defying abusers and continue to urge the other calling themselves as cohort of young feminists and run Earth Protection Campaign.
From Tissa Sasnida, a young Indonesian feminist who organized several youth circle on and offline protests over the past two years to the influential PRD activist Dhyta Caturani who posted a half-naked picture of her tattoos on her Twitter @purplerebel to boldly claim her right to freedom of expression, women have adopted and adapted new media technologies to the pursuit of personal and collective independence and freedom. They challenge in differing ways in which patriarchy oppresses every person who does not fit into normative parameters of privilege. Women wear veils, others reveal faces, some are tattooed, others are not, on and on in endless variety, new name to bespeak audaciousness. The convergences of networked media and street protests have helped women shatter cultural taboos, though many are still figuring out how to navigate the more freewheeling public sphere. Female bodies are so diversely embodied with multiple meanings and differentiations that it is harder to see the homogeneity. Feminisms put female bodies in whatever cultural, racial, class, and political practices seen as a location of power and powerlessness. Women are disproportionately the globe’s migrants, refugees & displaced persons. They suffered injustices the most profoundly. Given changes in the global economy, revisions & re-articulations of feminisms are necessitated. It cannot remain static. Feminisms must recognize entirety of complexities (class, race, practices of female bodies) while also embracing doubt. Previous discourses are heavily and solidly discussed online via social media. Several of the human rights groups, including @Indoprogress and @Salihara and @PrakarsaRakyat Initiatives, said their struggled with how to respond to freedom, largely defended women’s right to freedom of expression and said that they would defend that right regardless of the content the women chose to publish online via blog, Twitter or Facebook. Dhyta believed that brilliance is not a category of the very few, it is a term connected to anyone who can create social & economic justice for women.
There was consensus on the issue of women quotas for parliamentary elections, that is 30 percent, with some arguing that elected representatives should be the best candidates regardless of gender and others asking why they should accept quotas of less than 50 percent given that women are half of the population. An intriguing debate and profound critical arguments are poured and were well documented in the social media. Nonetheless, the past year was momentous for women activists in the regions outside of Jakarta as by 2000 the Law on Autonomy had transferred Jakarta as central power being distributed to the regencies. One of the most remarkable achievements was the births of many edicts protecting women rights though many others deteriorating them. Through social media they could discuss what in the real world could not or impossible to do. Indonesian keep on flocking to the sites and young women are leading the way. The percentage of internet users who are on social networking sites continues to climb.
Yet Mariana Amiruddin (Komnas Perempuan), one of prominent feminists of the 90s, said she worries about whether the gains made by women, who defied tradition to take to the street in 1998 and then continued it via social media, will continued, inasmuch as the message in social media is extremely instant and short-time lapsed. It will soon gone, the spirit. “Women’s participation was valued during the 1998 revolution, but now, as top government positions are awarded to corrupt regime, a female voice is seldom heard”, said Mariana. Political rights and civil liberties are remarkable gifts Indonesian women have always fought for decades. Indonesia was a bright spot in South East Asia region that continues to rank among the highest corrupted countries. Corruption is massive and colossal, and bitter criticisms and sinister statements are exercised openly in the social media. This is a blessed though reformists are always lamenting for doing nothing about this.
It is apparent that compared to women, men are creating program and develop social media universe, say Mark Zuckerberg creating Facebook. So basically social media is none other than the product of masculine muscle in which women are setting the conversational tone in different ways. Girls are using emotional cues more intensive than men do. Heart, smiley faces, expressive language, emoticons, playfulness, and humor are feminine ecriture (being feminine handwriting). Girls rather than boys are massively employs earlier expression and psychological clues and hints. The expressive style begun by these girls are at present being embraced and practiced by much older women—warmth and friendliness of looping or cursive typefaces and emoticons is in itself should not be associated with femininity, yet prior styles are adopted widely by girls and women and men are hesitant to copy them. I might be wrong with these judgment but the findings illustrated so. University students are among the earliest adopters of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. For women and girls social media are their public diary, their very nakedness before the public gaze. For men it is more likely to be connected with footballs championship and political matters. Yet more women are now talking politics and concern to humanity, especially activists, reformists, feminists, and even those working for conservative religious alliances. Their concern for corruption is nonetheless acute. They loathed their president too much but unable to make him step down. Mariana is aware of these means, she lamented over the indifference of the users who are increasingly become spoiled too much by it. It is no longer means of revolution like the 1998s; it turns out to be a machine of indulgence and excess. It is no longer political as it was used to be—spreading the message of justice.
Women’s communication and conversational style in social media, however, have naturally evolved. They remain, however, unwilling to be seen too much. Privacy and amount of friends are strictly controlled; merely those being trusted are confirmed. It is none of men mostly concerned. Language fashion will naturally grow depending on the horizon and the width & length of the cubicle they inhibit and dwell. Women compartment are diversely embodied with power and powerlessness; narratives of abuses and sexual violence which are unreal outside the cyber world are being represented in detailed portrayal. Account of unhappiness which they unable to reveal outside the monitor, are usually outburst in the social media. Pain, agony, torture are vivid and lucid in the Facebook’s and Twitter’s status. It helps to heal. Many on Twitter and Facebook expressed solidarity wishing they could help and attend in person for sort of humanitarian responses and protests but nonetheless helping to amplify the voices of the Indonesian young women cyberactivists. Their voices are as valid as those outside of the cyber world. It encompasses of similar Weltanschauung.
Trajectory of the fear factor are being copiously faced by Indonesian girls in schools under the tyranny of Adat Ketimuran—now means covering the body, though historically many traditional apparels from Indonesian ethnics were suggesting more skin exposures rather than the present situation, say Balinese, Papuans, Javanese women are bare-headed and bare-armed, even bare-breasted. Girls uniform at school have been seen as terror and confusion when girl is ever disobedience to the rule, to use Indonesian term, finding her bare head or arms are called “whore!”. The video or picture of a very frightened young girl and the furious arrogant men are apparent in the social media. Solely social media such as Youtube which could provide means of dissemination in seconds click compared to conventional television or printed media. Vulgar sexual intercourse among youth are widespread in the internet. It becomes a flashpoint in what some are calling a struggle for the soul purification of the country. Thus Law against Pornography has rampantly censored artistically media production, a curb for many talented insightful Indonesian artists! Unbridled censor has reduced the level of freedom of speech and human creativity. What is it about women that men and women of deeply conservative religions find so threatening? What runs so deep that it justifies traumatizing many talented artists? Many wondered much on the human basic creativity compartment where unlimited freedom is of no bargain. It is a question that echoed by Gadis Arivia, leading feminist by the 80s. Men orthodoxy and corrupted politicians will not be getting together any time soon to swap philosophy since it is considered as haram—forbidden. Yet they might find they have a lot in common. In their subjugation and abuse of women, they are brothers united.
Jilbab and the Changing Meaning of Sexuality
Hijab Fashion shows and head-veiled run-away models are often held in big cities in Indonesia in the last five years. High-end fashion embedded into the discourse of the veil where battle of economic imperatives takes place. Formerly owner of Jilbab boutiques are dominated by Muslim yet at present by Tionghoa ethnicity-background who are still leading on the textile production, market owner as well as distributor. Appealing to sophisticated and discerning jilbab is created to target high-end consumers. Ample Jilbab luxurious attire are entering the high-end department store. The style is deluxe, expensive, top-quality, top-notch and has the greatest power of sophistication. So-called Islamic fashion has provided ample online reference of jilbab upscale and cheap. Large selection of jilbab with hight quality being made from the finest fabrics are available off-store and mobile online shopping. All kinds of hijab, sets of prayer shawls, hijab amira for children, caps and pins are here and there whether in the traditional and modern market. And for women clothing are long skirts, trendy flared trousers, harem pants, long tunics, dresses, sweater and under sweater.
Young Muslimah who promoted and recorded the events in the social media, precisely to mention Twitter and Facebook, now find that, without a common high-end Islamic fashion, the identity is basically insecure. Muslimah absorbed the Western style and Korean style, and then bended and blended them into the cacophony of divided, hybrid and conflicting views on a piece of cloth. Sinister versus appraisal add more dynamic to the discourse of jilbab. Not to mention the “syar’i” requirement embedded in the way they construct the girlhood. Traditional disappointment to the way tight jeans are chosen are ample, a state where universities and school banned skinny-jeans. Construction of violence is real—the denial of female’s curves, its very humanness. Social media becoming a venue where they could documenting banality, vulgarity, and freedom of femaleness by expressing their sense of suffocation they could not enjoy the joy in real life.
Most were 15 to 30 years old from the urban middle class family with little experience of activism, who insisted that what they did was apolitical, instead pursuing a world which seems unreal from the eyes of much older generation—their mothers and grandmothers. Repression united them: “When the school and university is in power, there are a wide horizon provided by the internet for our up-to-date high-end Jilbab”. It was not us against the law prohibiting girls wearing tight skinny attire, it is just irrational hating jeans in such a way”, says Danty Sofie Karin. They have much in common, but their character is strongly affected by their choice of style, most are Korean ones blended with jilbab. The media celebration of Indonesia’s celebration of Facebook revolution does not help Muslimah understand why the enthusiasm of high-end Islamic fashion has turned to disillusion when come to the schools and universities where rigid code of dressing is applied. They are basically in mourning of the body construction. The internet had made them aware they hated the traditional rigid regime of womanhood and publicly criticize it. Using the web allowed them to distance themselves from the curb and limitation of the regime. They were criticized and intimidated by teachers in the classes for being too sexy and too sensual. Sensuality and sexuality remain lurking and haunting the voice of women’s bodies where battles of meanings are crowded and manipulated by women themselves—those who denied their own curves, intimacy and sensuality; and those who accepted it as nature’s gift. Women hated their bodies, indeed, so to speak, and give the fate to the community and what the holy text is saying. And women who loved their bodies and decided its own fate.
Just like the rain forest and the ozone layer, girls’ hair has been disappearing in almost all Islamic-based schools and universities. The young, fertile, and desiring bodies as the body grows aged are obligated to be hidden from the public gaze. Girls’ hair which was still visible in the 1980s is being cleared; anybody could see how the world has changed. Its disappearance tells this study something about womanhood, the state of love, the human and the relation of body and soul. Hair construct who the woman to be. When it is being concealed under a piece of cloth, then she gives particular meaning to the body, whether she loves her own body, celebrate it or simply reject it. She can love and celebrate the body as well as veil it. Any possible body construction is always possible. Ample ways of defining the self. The informal school law on girls uniform has morphed into removing all the hair. To be not veiled will certainly ruin your reputation. Hair is a metaphor of sin and concealment of sensuality and intimacy. Hairlessness and Jilbab marks the post-girlhood. Yet it is also marks the divide between the demonic and angelic. The bare-headed and the hair are closer to demonic selling sensuality and intimacy in a cheap way. Femininity was located in the observance of veil. Rambut (the hair) signals women’s capacity to make life, the way women knows they are no longer girls and boys. It is an evolutionary relic. It also informs female genetic qualities: whether straight or curly—a magical garden where one can live forever, sign of fertility. The image of high-end Islamic fashion with no show of women hair has increasingly shaped the sexual imagination of legions of young men. A sign of safety! Meaning girls are not engaged in extra-marital sexual relationship. New definition of erotic desirability is embedded into the veil instead. Novel meaning of sensuality is now being defined by a piece of cloth.
The high-end Jilbab has also signaled new sexual readiness, not unlike lip gloss used to signal a girls' availability for kissing. Jilbab offer a pure ready sexual phantasm that is legitimate and halal to be seen. The history witnesses the showing of women legs, hair, and curves are normal. Yet history curtails and reduces those into a mere “liberal demonic appearance”. The same is now happening with the hair. Even women who are about to deliver babies still put on the head veil. "Everybody is going to be in that room," one explained, "and I don't want they see my hair." Private space is becoming public space. Because women could now forthrightly demand their freedom wearing Jilbab—if she got hers, she should be acknowledged fully as dignified and they expected their community to grant her reciprocal mutual respect. In a society that has disclosed all women hair human such as in Aceh Province, it is no wonders that the smell of a woman’ hair has also been erased as a baseline experience. Hairlessness, like wearing Jilbab, advertises that a Muslimah has been purified for male taste and religious favor.
Reading a visual narration of high-end Jilbab fashion show is a dynamic observation and observance. I think the disappearance of female head hair marks both a nature disdain for womanly fertility—its complete look, its smell, its very nature, but also a women’s desire to look “religious”, the implication being that their natural bodies are “dirty” with the uncovering of the head. It is about becoming an instrument of pure religious pleasure—an active forgetting that one’s body is built to birth and to love basic part of it. There is a deep historical irony here: Muslimah women are pursuing sexual pleasures that were made possible by a feminism that also asserted the beauty of the natural feminine body. For these women, their sex is no longer dirty, but their hair and skin are. It is a discourse of gaze. When public gaze is not allowed, what can women do to celebrate the body if not the high-end make-up and fashion items. Secure website specialized on selling Eastern and Islamic fashion are mushrooming since 2005. Store reference jilbab for all season collections, the long jacket and rigor of cotton for the tropical Indonesia. Elegant and prestigious caftans and Indian women apparel are also available with the motto “Our broad to cover your body will look and style”.
Muslim wear and Muslim concept is becoming more popular and get-mode Islam with t-shirt streetwear. Sensuality is parallel with any fashion industry called to be “secular”. Discount on the shelves and sales deals are with this business as well. Anyone could discover books on Islam initiation following areas: Aqidah, Fiqh, Qur'an, Hadith, Sira, Biography of the Prophet, Minhaj, Sunnah, Education for children, DVDs and multi-media Muslim women Muslim books, invocation and prayer, Islamic educational games, learning Arabic. There are also middle east style: to honor, Moroccan slipper, sometimes traditional and sometimes fashion, the slippers are becoming essential clothing for children—girls and boys who also have their jilbab, hijab, kamis and pants. Others are also available such as oriental decoration and handicrafts: range of Moroccan craftsmanship with beautiful decorations of Marrakech and Fez, such as sconces, wrought iron lanterns and luminaries. Moroccan ambience with oriental mirror, pens and bookmarks Oriental are basic ambience in the high-end corner. Despite fashion, there are also health care and natural products such as: the argan oil, prickly pear, black soap and Aleppo soap known for their virtues and skin are also available in cream. These are the products of steam without forgetting the most exquisite horsehair glove (kassa) and solutions used with anti-hair loss such as powder or henna tattoo well as the natural cosmetics kohl and non-allergenic fragrances. A complete high-end one-stop-shop to be Islamic! They also offer natural and organic products with herbal teas made from ginger or lemongrass and green tea from China.
This study has been surveying Muslimah student eroticism for several years now and one thing is clear: young women who don't love and don't feel loved tend not to wear make-up. The Jilbab contributes as gateway to academic success and holy path to Allah. Even though they have to fight the uncomfortable capitulation to Islamic fashion market as a portal to fuller affection. It is a mark of female sexual availability to men on masculine terms, a regular rite of submission in the similar mode; “secular” women may show the affection. It is conditioned by the fact that just as women are achieving academic predominance and breaking into field after field as the economic order increasingly seeks the verbal, social and emotional skills they have to offer, the terms of trade are turning against them in their own expression of bodily expressions. Educated Muslim women must increasingly submit to the sexual demands of a shrinking pool of suitable men for whom the bedroom is one of the last domains outside of a football stadium where men can be men. And reciprocally for women, it is increasingly only their bodies that set them apart. Religious look is feminine. Religious is acceptable code for pretty, like the smooth cheeks on their faces. Religious body is a form of historical forgetting on the lust sensuous function of body—a corporeal denial to be precise. Novel corporeal religiosity is at work and unconsciously channeling the libido. The disappearance of women’s corporal unit says something about the way the conservative community construct humanness, how they compose their bodies and souls. The disappearing of femaleness, of skin, of hair is a hot issue in the changing meaning of sensuality and sexuality in contemporary Muslim civilization.
Disharmony, dissonance, of skin exposure is here and there. Given by many Jilbab wearer who showed their neck yet cover their hair; or exposing their arms and legs but close the hair; it is always impossible to define static inches how women should cover their bodies. It is at all times diverse in expression with Jilbab permanently embedded skin deep into their daily lives. Cohort of mothers, Ibu-Ibu, usually mocking and humming like chirping birds, any women, who they consider not conforming the “syar’i” normative. In turn they Jilbaber who show a bit of their neck, arm and leg turned to the social media. Social media is also prone to peer bullying, being targeted and taunted as not Islamic with their corporeal photos. They set up imaginary character who flashes a world in which they cannot materialize in real world. Sometimes, they also expose their bare-headed photos, even photos with mini-skirt! It is telling us that a particular sensuality could not be invented in the real world.
Don’t judge me wrong, even commercial sexual workers wear Jilbab—a thought that is familiar in the middle east where this cloth came from yet not for the Indonesia who still considered it as a piece of sacredness. In an unprecedented move jilbab moves a bit powerless as pressure and enforcement have made women put their own meaning to the cloth they wear. Jilbab gave up the notion after being questioned by its user, but invited everyone to gather on the discourse to debate, discuss, deconstruct the corporeal reminiscence that they able to grapple on the reach of their own horizon. Musing and fusion of horizons are received and posted in the imagery of religiosity and womenhood. Instigator of action and a turning point drove solidarity of an extraordinary sisterhood under the banner of Islam. It drove them and kept them all nights at their computers, posting images of Jilbab and their corporeal self--rejuvenating the virtual mosques. The brutal attachment of Korean style into Jilbab fashion celebrates the echoing spirit of another cultural invasion. It is being bended, twisted and adapted into the Islamic normativity.
With hindsight, this was the moment when a community of women united, and then crumbled. Arrival of Korean fever was celebrated in a surge of religious unity but it also marked the return of divisions. Without their common enemy, the Korean fashionista became political rivals. Relations were undermined by suspicion, copy-paste and defamation: “How they could copy our dress in such a cheap way,” said Danti, who has a big media profile among the youth in Solo. “We are divided now. Some girls by each other, others don’t. They blame us because we used a style which cannot being verified by Islamic codes”, continued her. She is also disillusioned: “Since Korean sinetron were being bombarded by Indosir, one of major leading national TV in Indonesia, there is such a hubbub on the social media of how are being mesmerized by those styles. It is difficult to make ourselves heard for this new passion.” Girls have had a huge influx of adapting Korean-Islamic jilbab including many new followers who understand false information and being tampered with online shopping. The result is cacophony.
A cacophony of enthusiasm in using social media, they can befriended and shop at the same time. Girls’ helplessness and confusion should be heeded; even though it contradicts with what the world they should live. They have legitimate voices of progressive forces that define the future of Indonesian Islam. Enthusiasm among the girls for the role of social media in Indonesia has overshadowed the experience of their apprehension of Islam-ness. On pilgrimigae to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, many Indonesian artists are not only carrying out haj rituals but also a pack of fashion-style paraded on television that is ready to be copied by their fans. The white satin beauty being shown with a Bilqis layered dress with a sequined high waist jacket is paraded on the airport approaching their departure to Mecca. Every TVs aired them! They have also unintentionally become real life models of Indonesian Islamic fashion, girls enthusiastically reported. In an interview with Jetti R. Hadi, editor in chief of NooR, a magazine specializing in Muslim fashion, explained that the allure of Indonesian created Islamic fashion have attracted many women in Middle East, especially in Mecca and Medina. They commented that Indonesian Muslimah is wearing such a sophisticated and up-to-dated Islamic fashion. “They are so attractive and pious at the same time. A price that we could not buy here since creativity is so being limited and restricted”. Things that Indonesia are now beginning to corrupt the legitimate freedom of expression and creativity by themselves.
There are always a growing number of Muslim women adhering to Jilbab, observing the Islamic principles of covering the skin and hair. And the blooming of the fashion industries brings with it a vibrant economic dynamic. Indonesia is stated as the “Mecca” of Islamic fashion. With imported contemporary Islamic fashion are mostly streamed from Pasar Klewer, Solo, Central Java. Muslimah wear and accessories is becoming the 20 percent of total Indonesian fashion industry which worth approximately US$ 1.7 trillion in 2008 alone, said Jetti in NooR Magazine. Compared to the Middle Eastern who are dominated by Morocco and Turkey, Indonesian Muslimah fashion styles are dominated by the intermingling of Batik and Kain Ikat. Batik and Kain Ikat is being newly reconstructed from traditional Javanese code into Islamic fashion. Transfer of intimacy and sensuality are re-imprinted into the new Islamic code of fashion. Taboo sensual more is intact in the portrait of Batik motives. The exuberance picture of animals and flowers and other perplex traditional pakem/design. Top designs are Up2date and Bilqis that promote traditional motives under the Islamic mores. Indonesia has beautified herself as the Islamic wear fashion destination for Malaysia and Brunei.
Scary image of Islam is now being downturned by such a vibrant colorful fashion wear. In the pretext of national stability on freedom of expression, Muslimah fashion show are held in an escalating numbers. Myriad of exuberant images and portrayals are displacing narrative of suicide-bombs and remorseful death of it. Islam is still at the top of selling point. The growing market and the many fashion shows that include Islamic categories have so far influenced Indonesia mainstream fashion designer who never design Muslim wear previously. Itang Yunasz, Ghea Panggabean, and Sebastian Gunawan are among the few established national designer who have produced the Muslim fashion concept. It brings lots of money, they said. From a tight Jilbab and those loose one covering the chest, vibrant diverse concepts are being created anew every year. Artists are usually the leading concepts produce who then followed, copied, re-copied by freaky fans! They could still abide the law and being fashionable at the same time. A rigorous promotion of Bandung-based Up2date and Solo-based Bilqis have an international reputation, least at the south east Asia, like Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, and Thailand where Muslim resided. Bilqis is predominantly defined by elegant Batik pieces from Solo. Up2date choose a mix-match of Paris and Korea styles concepts. The communicating transfer of styles concept being exported from traditional codes to being imported from Western-Korean style is a hybrid denomination establishing Islamic fashion. A place where sensuality, intimacy, corporeality of women-ness are being transfixed and being reproduced.
Of super-market, mega business, Carrefour, bank, insurance offices and other departments stores, being Muslim-friendly is cheap and good for business. In little Jakarta, a woman staff of a bank who are rejected because of her veil, who insists on wearing jilbab, tries to expose the Islamophobia of her fellow Indonesian money owner, usually Tionghoa ethnicity. A case involving BCA (Bank Central Asia) in the 1990 were notorious. But now, all banks are competing to establish Bank Syariah. They are all either tolerant or giving more spaces for expressing the Muslim wear. It is a must for all women staffs at the Bank Syariah to wear Jilbab. A force that never happens before the 1990s. This era marked the dominating discourse of establishing right wearing Jilbab which were previously being banned by Soeharto. The 2000s marked the mushrooming birth of Bank Syariah which last up to now. BNI Syariah Bank, BPD Syariah Bank, Mandiri Syariah Bank and other national banks. The corporate world is never Muslim-friendly before 2000s. Yet attitudes have changed dramatically. Some 90% of national television now ban discrimination on the basis of Jilbab, which previously banned jilbab wearer presenters, and only one TV station which does not let jilbab wearer, the famous Metro TV. Commission of Human Rights has urged any offices to accept jilbab wearer unconditionally. Progress has taken place in a wide range of textile industries which profited from jilbab wearers—women labors are required to cover their hair. Jilbab wearers who were facing difficulties in applying jobs during the Soeharto era, are now leaving a history of victory to their predecessor.
Plenty of talent-driven Jilbab wearer filled the necessary jobs in banks and high echelon at the governmental ranks. Industrial giants have accepted them as well based on their professionalism. Department stores and malls are competing with each other to produce the most imaginative Muslim-friendly policies. What caused this corporate revolution? How about the film and entertainment industries? Islamic concept has usurped there as well. Artists faithful to Jilbab such as Inneke Koesherawati, Aminah Cendrawasih, Nani Wijaya, Desy Ratnasari, and an increasing number in the year to come are never stop stripping Islamic sinetron crowded the TVs. Mostly it happened because changing attitudes in society at large have reduced the cost of Muslim-friendly, and raised the rewards. A generation ago in the New Order Era, creating Muslim-friendly workplace might have upset the regime. Now it probably won’t. But failing to treat Jilbab wearer equally is very likely to drive them to seek employment elsewhere. Since they are perhaps 80% of the national talent pool, bigotry makes a firm less competitive. Nothing can never stop economic power and growth of women wearing Jilbab no matter the professions she opts.
Cacophony of skin among jilbab wearers is scandalous. The more women opting for the Muslim wear, the more women leak the way they contradict and speak against the iron law of covering. More skin are shown at the offices. Exposing branded-shoes with an original women skin instead of socks is always tempting, they said, as well as official outfit following women curves. Being fair to Jilbaber is arguably simpler than being fair to terrorist, they stated (Jones, 2002). Jilbab wearers really do not differ from other women in the amount of time, on average, that they take off to raise children. And there is no obvious answer to question such as: “How much paid maternity leave should a small firm offer?” So basically women’s access and right to it is far from being certain and secure, be she jilbaber or not. Being Jilbab-friendly can attract Muslim customers, too. The 2000s had witnessed how a secular bank created a private-banking team called Syariah Bank that focused exclusively on the Muslim market, courting Muslim non-profits and providing seminars on financial planning for domestic partners. Until now Bank Syariah had brought in more than trillions US$ of business.
The Islamic revolution is far from over. Nearly half of national film production is embedded with Islamic-theme such as Sang Pencerah, Ayat-Ayat Cinta, Mata Tertutup, etc, with established Director Hanung Bramantya as leader in this business. And even the most enlightened film production cannot make up for intolerance in Islam toward sexuality and intimacy in Islam-branded movies. Yet it reaches the box-offices. A genre of movie containing no sexuality or intimacy is at its top selling point. Sensuality, intimacy and sexuality is instead being wrapped gracefully with Jilbab. Indeed it works well as the market still buys it. Still, the Islam revolution in the workplace is remarkable. In most places, companies are more liberal than governments. In the coming years, the revolution is likely to gather pace. Younger businessmen those owning money are far more relaxed about Jilbab than their parents were. Indeed, many young businessmen whether Muslim or Tionghoa or Christian would feel uncomfortable working if failed to treat Jilbab wearer decently. Companies vying to recruit them will bear this in mind. They changed their mind that Jilbaber is connected to bigotry. They have been out from cubicle realizing the potentials jilbab wearers have compared to those who do not wear. And the jilbab wearers are out of the cubicle as well pursuing their career as jilbab is not identical with domesticity. A sensuous Jilbab wearer is absolutely legitimate. And it could be sold through movies for certain. Viewers love to see a constrained love with a jailed and restricted sexuality and intimacy (Epstein, 1967; Turner, 1989). Fashion designer serving the Film Industries has tried to make clothes that not only serve the function to cover the body yet having sense of art and sensitivity in it. Sensuality, intimacy, and sexuality have been converted into another form of expression. Not the showing too much of the skin, the concealment of women skin instead. It is an intricate business anyhow, to provide conservativeness and sensuality at the same time. Sometimes they have to turn to be an oxymoron: a dissonance and a contradiction of needs, roles, and responsibilities when it deals with sacredness and banality. Not a simple task, anyhow. The visualization of elasticity, suppleness, and femininity are at maxim point. Representation of sensuality is put forward on the quietness and gentleness of the artists wearing Jilbab. It is basically a hard task to juxtapose the idea of sexuality on the basis of skin exposure and women curve into the contradiction of it, total bodily concealment.
Indonesia is now becoming the hub of Islamic Film production that not only sell religiosity but also sensuality which is defined by a dash of conservativeness. With the strongly buffeted personal publication of head-veiled girls onto the screen of their social media, and the changing attitude toward private life as public display instead, there is also a mounting increase of a strongly skeptical attitude toward Jilbab—formerly acknowledged as religious signature now turns to a mere meaningless piece of cloth which any woman could take on and off politically. A political iconic deed is in demand, wearing it on when entering the schools and universities and wearing it off while entering a different space. A space in-between in which they politically employed is a place where they could exercise power which they do not have in classes. It recommends strategies that included breaking the religious myth. To advocate peers to do so, they protect peers and form alignment of “click”. Click of girls in this discourse of Jilbab is strengthened with the arrival many Islamic-based militant organization that recruits students (Abuza, 2003). A vicarious yet muddy public understanding about this discourses has enliven the lurid significance of contemporary Jilbab. Militants can never allow a display of sensual Jilbab. It never comes across their mind that Jilbab wearer could show such an intimacy and sensuality. It contributes to the changing meaning of sexuality.
Given the potential impact however, Jilbab attempted to confirm the accuracy of the altered and varying meanings that are documented via the websites or personal blogs. A sterile and a serious lapse of rigid orthodoxy cannot simply be solicited based on Islamic judgment and ethics. It is a torrential force that Islam shall accommodate and confirms. The girls made changes or alterations of any kind to Quranic interpretations regarding Jilbab that was imposed on them since a child, yet the practice of sensual display simply takes place and made into public. It marks the personal room of intimacy exported into public room. A public room that is all in one is transparent and visible to their parents and teacher. Their photos leave a trail on the history of women bodies. The problem for the girls is that suspicion will only grow among peers with their brevity in displaying skin. Sakinah has admitted using deception or false names to get a space where she could post their picture without the head veil. This is simply not a deception, a practice which is very well-known by the girls of how to stay “existed”.
Sensual deception under the rite of head veil will not destroyed Islam’s credibility and harmed others—so to delve into girls’ perspective. Those documents have bearings of religious battle, and certainly not either a personal tragedy or shame, though it might be devastating representation for her colleagues, friends and family. Worst of all it will almost certainly produce a backlash against religious conservativeness that has advocated it at a politically sensitive moment. Until now, a woman has been required to observe Jilbab when entering the mosques and religious congregation—a moment that was rare during Soeharto era. It is the entire stranger given that particular feminists are speaking against it. "Everywhere we are asked to observe Jilbab. This is not imposed on men." Lies Marcoes Natsir, leading feminist of Indonesia based in Jakarta (Bush, 2002; Candraningrum, 2008). Still, proponents of Jilbab said they were wary that the movement rejecting Jilbab was only aimed at secularizing the nation. "We are not stupid; we know that Jilbab is now at a political top-selling level. Many politicians and civil servants are now observing Jilbab. So we will be vigilant to see that it is in fact been misused and abused for none of religious objectives. We have angst that our girls are corrupted by the West”, they warned.
Their group and sister movement, such as Aisyiyah and Fatayat Nadhdlatul Ulama pledge to the televisions to reduce sensual advertising using women of veil. Existing advertisement using Jilbab is The Sari Wangi by Inneke Koesherawaty and Hair Shampoo product—which strangely did not show women hair. Television has sought to reduce the use of sensual Jilbab on ads in recent years, but to little avail. Kelompok Pengajian Ibu-Ibu (Religious Congregation by Mothers) notes the persistence of terms referring to Jilbab, without justification or need, to women's pious situation. It asks parents and school administrations to eliminate as much as possible such images. Young women shout loud protest in the Facebook to mark her liberty from the parents’ and school’s curb. It is once again at battle over the meaning of a piece of cloth, between the older generation and the young one. The faith, family and fundamental rights of girls are basically being contested as well. Over the past few decades, as most of the Moms and Daughters have embraced Jilbab, the majority-Muslim Family has waged war against pornography and free-sex. There, abortion is strictly prohibited and crackdown on dating are common—media and polices are adversely catching illicit lovers staying in motels or hotels, actions that did not touch any contemporary Western countries (Lewis, 2002). Abandonment of contraception and condoms are becoming widespread among militant religious groups, such as LDII (Lembaga Dakwah Islam Indonesia). Mosque officials promote what they call “natural” family planning: women are advised to track their cycle and abstain from sex on all but their least fertile days. They cast artificial contraception as an affront to God’s will, a gateway to abortion and a threat to public health. In their minds, condoms are “abortifacients” and family-planning campaigners are propagandists of a culture death”.
This type of thinking has led several Ulama and Ustadz to try to curb the use of modern contraception. It gives rise in maternal mortality, a slew of unwanted pregnancies and evidence of injury caused by clandestine abortions. The mosques’ campaign against modern contraception has led to an epidemic of unsafe abortions in the religious circle as well as over population; many PKS politicians have a group of minimally 7 children in a family like Yoyoh Kusroh (Ramage, 1996). It is obvious for the public and placid-docile for the women that a restrictive approach to reproductive rights can and has hurt women. Behind the Manichaean religious rhetoric espoused by some conservative Muslims hides plain truths about public health: access to contraception decreases maternal mortality and lowers the number of abortions. Program on birth control is becoming a vicious battle field—that was never happened during the Soeharto era (Mujani, 2003). A comprehensive study of World Health Organization confirmed that abortion rates in countries that prohibit or restrict legal abortion are no different than abortion rates in countries with liberal abortion laws; the only reliable way to reduce abortion is through the provision of affordable, accessible contraception. To cap off Muslims’ debate on contraception there has been a surge in births outside marriage, the fastest growth being among poor girls in their 18s with some high-school education. More than quarter of births to women under 30 now occur outside of marriage. Is this really a time to try to limit contraception? What about the reckoning of the reality of human lives? And there it is: reckoning with the reality of human lives, and saving them too. Even Jilbab is powerless before the raising death of mothers giving birth and the numbers of girls being sold in prostitutions. Girls wearing Jilbab sold as prostitute!
100,000 children—predominantly girls; and women are trafficked in Indonesia per year (UNICEF, 2012). The United Nations defines child trafficking as the recruitment, transportation or receipt of children with the purpose of exploiting them. Poverty, lack of economic opportunities, poor level of social status, high demand of cheap labors and commercial sex, weak law enforcement, conflict and discrimination are prime trigger to child trafficking. Girl is sold of Rp.100,000.00 into servitude in private homes, street beggars, and factory labors, as much as prostitution. Besides drug and gun trades, trading the girls are lucrative business in many tourism hub such as Bali, Batam, and Jakarta. Girls from rural poor areas are sold in those places and other big cities in Indonesia such as Surabaya, Medan, Makassar and Semarang. Child prostitution is a clandestine if not translucent business in Bali, where many tourists secretly consumed this forbidden sex in their home-countries. There is always a underlined highlighted statement among Indonesian traditional conservatives Mothers of “the dangers of being female”—reason why girls are kept, guarded, and limited despite enjoying formal education. Girls hang-out at night are still a taboo words among Indonesian families. There is always news on the objectification of women.
The last decade was big on bad news for women. First, a family in Jakarta was convicted for killing four female relatives, then a woman was allegedly strangled by her husband in Kediri, and then a high-profile charity decides to withdraw funds to screen women for cervix cancer. There are two things that struck this study as noticeable about these events and their news coverage. The first is that in all of these cases, different as they may be, women are being punished for being women. The Jakarta killings were allegedly motivated by the girls' dating and wearing girly clothes. The woman in Kediri was supposedly killed because she had slept with her neighbors and apparently having affairs with him. And it is hard to think of a gesture that more clearly targets women for just being women than defunding screenings for cervix cancer. The second thing that is noticeable about coverage of these recent events is that many people have expressed their outrage over them, making this study feel tentatively optimistic about the future for women's rights. With that in mind, people will start caring and expressing outrage about these three very common ways in which women are being punished for being female. It justifies assumptions about female weakness that at the end should be saved by her Guardian.
Despite the fact that many women are the sole or main providers for their families, and despite women's advances as middle managers, women continue to be underrepresented in top leadership roles. A repeatedly points to assumptions about women's "nature" as key barriers to promotion has worsen the myth that women are not thought to be as assertive as men, and are seen to lack vision and strength. It is telling that many job adverts suggest that qualified women are encouraged to apply. Men, this seems to imply, are qualified just by being male. What makes situation worsens are the punitive laws related to women’s sexuality.
Sexuality is succumbed to satanic and demonic allure that should be concealed, obscured and curbed. Societies have viewed and regulated women's sexuality differently than men's for as long back as we can dig up evidence about. Semitic religions, whether Christianity or Islam, expect women to be chaste and demure; and punished or ridiculed those who were not (Hitti, 1940; Epstein, 1967; Brenner, 1996; Hasyim, 2006). Today, laws to punish women for having sex with the wrong persons at the wrong time for the wrong reasons persist in almost all countries in the world, ranging from the criminalization of female adultery and of abortion over laws that punish drug use during pregnancy to social services provisions that punish poor unmarried women with more than one child. At the basis of all of these laws is one main thought: Women should not really want to have sex. As long as women are undervalued, expected to bear the entire price of reproduction, and at the same time required to be outwardly asexual, the world will see more women and girls killed, maimed and their health needs discarded. Feminists have continued to muster outrage and actually generate change. It is always a long stony tricky and deathly road to cross. And Indonesia was one of the most anticipated destinations for the objectification of asexual women because it is still rife with child trafficking issues. Heavy tourism regions such as Bali, Batam, and Jakarta are among the areas most vulnerable to child exploitation. Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Bali are included in the heavily import of trafficked girls from poor rural areas of Java. There is still always a tremendous drive, energy, self-assurance and a genuinely big heart being combated by many organizations to help these girls. Child trafficking is one of humanity’s most terrible crimes and Islam probably is still in its deep slumber. The discourse of Jilbab and the changing meaning of sensuality, intimacy, and sexuality have put a milestone to the history of Islamic civilization in Indonesia.
Women’s bodies have been reproduced as source of leisure, pleasure as well as disgust. Women’s fats in art and popular culture have been seen as monstrous and defiled and disgusting. Vulnerable to stigma is closely related to femaleness, either thin or fat, both are disadvantageous. This framing has led to the stigmatization of aspects of women’s bodies: lines in the skin that indicate aging, lumps of fat, fairness of skin, and shape of nose. Those are considered as threatening for women themselves which then being reproduced, and forcibly stigmatized in later phases. Ways of resisting, reframing, and coping the stigmas are rarely discussed. Debunking stigma and demystifying physical beauty are ways to be honest to femaleness. Air-brushed femaleness onto the bill-board—mostly cosmetic and fashion products—is being debunked to satisfy lurid and vivid honesty of being female. This study rejects the way women stigmatized other women using the weapon of body proportion. It is massive and ubiquitous in the public.
The stigma attached to lust and sexuality by the dogmas has created suffering indeed. The pervasiveness of morality views toward lust and sexuality are undeniable in mainstream Indonesian Muslim society, situated both institutionally and interpersonally. The youth perceives it as torture. It creates angst. Previous angst has amplified the personal experience of stigma, and that is why the youth should ameliorate their expression of lust: either hetero or homo relationship shall remodel its sensitivity and interactions under public gaze. The cultural bubble simply could not let they go. While much of the discussion surrounding body image and
appearance revolved around the current orthodoxy, this study wants to take a moment to reflect on how this double-standard often creates certain stigma for women. How they are being sold, and then being nullified as amoral, almost happens at the same time. Vagina is sold in the porno industry, functioned as cash-cow, while at the same time, being cursed for tainting morality. It is the community double-standard putting such a multi-burden to femaleness. How horrified and petrified having breast or vagina then! Beauty is then of over-burdened consequence, since happiness is denied woman. Women’s tales of woes are narrative of anguish, despair, and misery—lurking from marriage, divorce, abortion and plastic surgery. Thus, the moral of the story is tale of petrified body—unhappy narrative. How women negotiate Jilbab, interpret body and access to justice is no longer stand equally. Women’s bodies are devalued, revived and reread as part of the religious memory. Speaking of women’s special responsibility, their duty and their obligation as a woman to retain high standard of appearance, of one’s femininity, self-respect and pride; while at the same time sanctioned by religion not to reveal the skin and the hair to emit signal of sexual interest and availability since the sole right is in the hand of patriarch. All those burdens are pathetic.
Femaleness is valued as commodities and stigmatized heavily at the arena of religiosity. Corporeality finds it suffocating and wretched in dismal. Stigma on lust attached solely to femaleness has undermined possible causes of the ample diverse experiences facing by women around the globe to hail against. Women shall define beauty based on their own horizon, one which fair and equal—sweeping away derogating stigma. Fantasy of love, of lust, of intimacy, and of sexuality are legitimate in its own way—being experienced and undergone by women of bare-headed or women of Jilbab. It is a source of liberation in which memory of religiosity is no longer suffocating, petrifying, or killing.
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