A few days ago, I was on the phone with my mom, having the usual conversations about whether I eat enough, eat healthy food, or eat vegetable. That’s always the first agenda when I talk to her on the phone. And then other agenda follows, where I ask her about the latest family news, or just news, from my hometown and then she asks me about the latest news on my job and my whole entire life.
In this particular call, I told her that I’m preparing my application for graduate school. I said if everything goes well, I’m gonna be out of the country by next year (crossing my fingers so hard for this). She responded positively, at the beginning. After all, she always wants me to study and get the highest degree that I can. “Sekolah tinggi-tinggi,” was what she always told me since I was little.
But then, she asked a question. She wanted to know how long it is going to take to complete a master’s degree. I told her that it’s going to take 2 years.
She said, “well, just don’t forget that you’re going to be twenty-(censored) this year.”
Sensing where the conversation might be going, I said, “yeah, I know, still young right, mom? hahaha”
And yeah, the conversation went exactly where I thought it would. She expressed her concern, that I am too focused on building my career and going to school that I’ll forget to get married.
Yup. The time has come for me, when my parents, extended family, and even the society are starting to get concerned about my status. It is a common phenomenon that happens to women in their 20’s who haven’t gotten married yet here in Indonesia. So, here’s my opinion about this.
FYI, average age for first marriage in Indonesia is 24 years old (BPS, 2014). Yeah, people get married relatively early in this country. There’s many reasons and definitely rights for these people. Sadly, a lot of the girls, especially, are pressured into getting married for all the wrong reasons, such as economic, age, and the most ridiculous is so that they don’t have to “live in sin”.
“Sadly, a lot of the girls, especially, are pressured into getting married for all the wrong reasons, such as economic, age, and the most ridiculous is so that they don’t have to “live in sin”.”
The first reason is mainly used when the woman doesn’t think that they can make a living without a man’s help. In such patrilinealistic culture of Indonesia, women are forced to think that men are stronger and better, and that women can’t live without the help and protection of men. They believe in the idea that women should not dream bigger, that it is enough for women to be a mother and stay at home. Don’t get me wrong, being a mother is the most wonderful job for a woman, but to use it as a way to prevent women from actualizing their maximum potential? God knows how hard my teeth grind when I hear women and men use this reason to get married.
“being a mother is the most wonderful job for a woman, but to use it as a way to prevent women from actualizing their maximum potential?”
Second, when women don’t already get married when they reach mid 2o’s, the society doesn’t help them, instead, they ridicule them. Through casual remarks in everyday life, they’d make fun of a single girl with derogatory words such as “not likeable”, “ugly”, and other words that definitely decrease the confidence of a woman. Because of that, a lot of the women feel the need to get married as soon as possible.
Third, and the most absurd reason is that, people want to get married so that they can have sex. Yeah, in a society that claims to be a religious one, sexual relationship before marriage is punishable with the highest humiliation you can get. People who have sex before marriage or have children outside of marriage are frowned upon and judged as immoral. I believe that this country should rethink the definition of moral. I know for a fact that when our reproductive organs are on, it is impossible to control what happens down there–if you know what I mean ;). But to use this reason to get married? People, you don’t get married to have sex. You get married because of love. If you want sex, go to a brothel.
“the most absurd reason is that, people want to get married so that they can have sex.”
These are crazy reasons that I know a lot of the people in Indonesia use to get married. It’s unbelievable, but it’s real. I mean… it’s not like I completely disagree with getting married. It’s just that getting married is a big thing. By getting married, you commit yourself to that one person for as long as love and life allow you to do so. I don’t want to get married because the society thinks I should. I want to get married because I want to. I always believe that every person is entitled to make a decision for themselves whatever the consequences. For me, getting married is something I want to do only when the person is right and when I’m done making a name for my self and enjoying my youth.
“I don’t want to get married because the society thinks I should. I want to get married because I want to.”