Social Commentary

Jeprut are feminists: a negotiation for the common sense

Invalid Urban, Pelancong Negeri Belangbuntal at Jl. Merdeka Bandung during a day long performance on Annual Jeprut #1

* A note for Annual Jeprut #1

The four women who are involved in Jeprut are known for their courage and relentlessness in life as an artist. They are Marintan Sirait, Arahmaiani, Titarubi and Ine Arini. Over three decades of their lives were dedicated to exploring and refining their art. They have come so far since early of their careers in the 80s: places they went to, struggles they face, people they met, and changes they experienced. All aspects that were, is one in their art.

When I first asked to write about Jeprut women artists with the view of a feminist, I thought what shall I do? Shall I praise their glory in pushing through as a female artist in a country where patriarchal view is imminent? Should I encourage more women to be inspired and follow their trail of struggle? Or should I ponder and bemoan the lack of feminism in Indonesia.  Or shall I trace feminist root to Western modern views of feminism that were induced during Dutch Indies era and then having an argument whether Indonesian feminism existed and that it should have its own ‘colour’ than those in the West. Most importantly, does feministic view and thoughts only exclusive to women artists in Jeprut?

In Indonesia and perhaps in many countries in the world, feminist issues are often thought as either illusive, a cry for help or an angry voice. It also often thought that feminism is a female-only area of thoughts and problems. ‘Woman problems’ – are common to say in our daily conversation and although it has a ring to it, it isn’t necessarily correct within context. Female body would be the first subject that comes up, because we are all so fascinated by its wonders. So much so that after 1998, changes including governmental decentralisation has resulted in the political implementation of hundreds of new regional by-laws that target women. For example, in Pamekasan, Gowa, Cianjur and Padang women must wear hijab in public places; in Gorontalo women are not allowed to walk on the streets after midnight; in Tangerang women can be arrested for prostitution if they are found in public places after the hours of women’s curfew; in Aceh, the formal implementation of shari’ah is supervised by a “moral police” contingent. These are not ‘women problems-women to solve’ issue. This is a social issue.

Allow me to list some of the social issues that Marintan, Arahmaiani, Titarubi and Ine Arini highlights in their works at annual Jeprut #1 : aesthetics, wellbeing, education, violence, discrimination, religious extremism, stereotyping, colonialism, capitalism, history, urban and nature issues. If you examine carefully, all of these issues were also raised by the male artists in the annual Jeprut. These social issues are not exclusively ‘women problems’ that needs to be solved only by women, these are real social justice issues to be resolved.

Jeprut is Negotiation for the Common Sense

Within the framework of annual Jeprut, it is first and foremost a negotiation for the common sense. These women artists are our common reminder that feminine struggle and movement is real, it is urgent and there is still a lot we need to work on. These women artists  have made their steps and negotiation for common sense. These Jeprut artists have made their stand to negotiate for the common sense.

What are you going to do to negotiate for common sense?


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