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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Abstinence and Soberness: Being a Woman in an Anti-feminist Country

Here we go again....

Unlike the viral cat-calling video, not many people were amused with this one. It was badly made, they say, and the acting was just terrible (the drunk woman and the actors). And being drunk without any help is not a big thing, especially in LA where you can see people wasted in almost every corner of the street. Still the article pressed the issue: women should not be taken advantage of when they are not in control of themselves. Newsflash, fellas: in this world, people with disadvantage get taken advantage of every single time. The rich milked on the poor, the healthy trumped the sick, the sober prey on the drunk. No news here.

If by this time you already think I am an anti-feminist and doesn't support my fellow women, you may be right. Nevertheless, let me tell you a story and maybe we all can learn something about it.

I come from Indonesia, born and raised in the capital city of Jakarta. Women who drink or do non-marital sex are frowned upon, and virginity is considered (at least when I grew up) an absolute must requirement in order to find yourself a decent husband. Coming to America, reading all the news and seeing some proof firsthand, I realize that here sex and drunk/alcohol goes side by side and is somewhat one of America's favorite past time activities. It was so popular that even the slightest idea to control it (especially for women) were met with a loud chorus: "Don't take women's right! Don't victimize the victim!" and such and such. But is it really that bad to do a little more of self control in these matters?

In Indonesia, alcohol is expensive. It is unthinkable to gorge on a can of beer when with the same amount of money you can get a filling, healthy, and balanced meal. Local beer and cheap alcohols were associated with the lower social class, and any kind of drunkenness is frowned upon and considered as 'bad seed'. Men in the villages still gather and get drunk sometimes, but it was more of traditional gathering and not something to be boasted. Again, people who wish to have good social standing in the society generally does not indulge himself in alcohol. I've been to youth gatherings during my university years where the boys got cheerfully drunk, but even then the girls were not allowed to drink much. As restricting as it sound it actually helped the girls and again, it showed how girls are put in a higher level than the boys (people with good social standing a.k.a the nice ones do not get drunk). 

How does this help me as a woman? Since alcohol is not a 'hot item' and such, I rarely seen women drink uncontrollably, and my friends that did were well in their twenties and already have a source of income. I do not feel the peer pressure to get wasted on alcohol or correlate alcohol with fun. To enjoy alcohol is an option made fully realizing that my society will most likely look at me in the harsh light. This means, only the adult women who are capable in thinking sober and can actually be responsible for their own action gets to 'touch' alcohol (a.k.a get wasted). True that there are still young girls, especially from the lower socioeconomic status or those who aspired to be 'as cool as the westerners' that abuse alcohol; but it was not an option for the (somewhat prude) middle to upper socioeconomic status. I considered myself lucky in this matter, because I can choose my vice. When I drink it was because I want to and not because the society forced upon me that alcohol is cool, and I was able to drink responsibly because my society forced me to be responsible for myself.

The same goes with sex. I didn't have sex until my early twenties, and even then I had to persuade my partner because he think pre-marital sex is sinful. Pre-marital or non-marital sex is something that you confess in a hush-hush and told in shame, that is if you ever had the guts to tell anyone about it. I enjoy making my friends think I am such a vixen, but even so I never tell a single breath to anyone about sex with my partner(s). Again, this means I had sex when I was physically and emotionally ready for it, and not because the society tells me so. My society's view on the sacredness of the sex also led me to have pride and dignity on my body. The only few times I did non-committal sex made me feel violated instead of empowered. It was fun, sex was always fun, but in no way I could emotionally enjoy having someone use my body just because they can.

This article is in no way saying that we women shouldn't drink alcohol and have sex as much as we want. This article is trying to say that maybe, just maybe, making responsible decision (a.k.a controlling yourself) when it comes to sex and alcohol is not such a bad thing after all. Getting drunk and having sex when you are (somewhat) adult may not be much different than when you are a teenager, but at least the older you get usually the more responsible you would be towards your body and on making sensible decision. And yes, we are responsible for our own action. For a country that take gun rights seriously for the citizen's own protection, I am surprised that Americans instead choose to trust their safety when they are drunk to the hands of their fellow citizen. It is such a contradictory, isn't it? 

This issue matters to me because I have stepchildren and I am toying to have a child of my own. I want them to experience life in the fullest, to do things because they wanted to and because they think it is time for them do so and not because their surroundings deemed that they are ready for it. I want my daughters to be proud of their own body and my sons to be respectful towards the woman's body, and this can only be achieve when they can take their sweet time with it instead of rushing to it because they think being a virgin is not cool. We talk and talk and talk about the rape culture, but we do not see that maybe, maybe it all happen because these kids are not ready for it yet the society tells them they are. And for the adult feminists out there, isn't protecting a woman's dignity more important and more empowering than just forcing our rights? Getting wasted and having as much sex as one want is not empowering, or making us equal with men; but making a responsible choice in regards to sex and alcohol is. It is actually a very sane thing to do, regardless of the gender. For some reason though, any remarks about women shouldn't put themselves in compromising position (drunk, sexy clothing) was almost always met with the chorus "Why does women always get victimize?" and "Blame the perpetrator, not the victim!". No sane man would walk unprotected in a criminal-laden area of Los Angeles, or climbing a snowy mountain without proper warm clothes, so why women are so special? What is so empowering about expecting the other gender (a.k.a men) to 'behave' instead of taking action on ourselves? Isn't that mean that we women are still on their mercy?

In the end, if we take the woman factor out, the video above is merely a video of people trying to take advantage from their fellow human. Yes, she is a woman. Yes, she is drunk. Yet the essence is the same. Criminality happens, bad people are abound. That is just life, that is just world. Women shouldn't be raped just because how they are dressed, or be raped or treated violently for any cause. But you know what? So does men. And each day, maybe each second a person is being wrongfully/maliciously treated. Our crusade shouldn't be about women vs men and vice versa. Our crusade should be against humanity in general, the competitive and primitive part of us that instinctively wanted to devour the weak and made them our prey. This is our true crusade. This is what we should fight for.

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