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Title: (Re)presenting the Feminine in Nationalism: A Post-Colonial Feminist Inquiry into the Construction of the 'Ideal' Indonesian Woman
Authors: Diyanah Nasuha Bte Omar Bahri
Issue Date: 6-Apr-2018
Citation: Diyanah Nasuha Bte Omar Bahri (2018-04-06). (Re)presenting the Feminine in Nationalism: A Post-Colonial Feminist Inquiry into the Construction of the 'Ideal' Indonesian Woman. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This thesis examines the construction of the ‘ideal’ Indonesian woman and the salience of this construction within hegemonic nationalistic discourses on gender relations of the modern nation-state of Indonesia. Under the Suharto’s New Order gender regime, the definition of the ‘ideal’ Indonesian women can be derived from the official Five Duties of Women, which were based on traditional notions of womanhood. The Indonesian state employed these duties strategically to limit women activities to the realm of domesticity and the private sphere. Along with these duties, there is also the unofficial code of the kodrat wanita, a tacit subtext of acceptable behaviour that is grounded in a woman’s biological destiny, which still exists today. Women’s bodies have been disciplined in various ways, but I focus on how women’s bodies have been disciplined by the New Order regime, and then constructed within their nationalistic discourses. This form of discipline imposes a normative vision whereby women’s primary roles were to be mothers and wives within the family unit, where ultimately husbands wielded patriarchal authority. More importantly, women are also held to be apolitical paragons of morality and respectability within the nation. Through a post-colonial feminist analysis, I problematise the construction and implications of the salience of these state representations of a women’s identity and womanhood. This post-colonial feminist approach reveals the degree to which inherent patriarchal colonial legacies are present within post-colonial Indonesian nationalism under Suharto and its consequent gender politics. This approach also reveals the entwining of the Javanese elite class’s oppressive construct of femininity, which are embedded within such construction of the ‘ideal’ Indonesian woman. Thus, the post-colonial feminist approach provides a critical stance for which a re-evaluation and re-assessment of the gendered historical narratives that prop up the homogenising imperatives of the New Order state ideology. The struggle of Indonesian women in challenging the salience of New Order’s gender regime is exacerbated by the rise of patriarchal politics in the post-Suharto era, by neo-conservative and Islamic groups in Indonesia. While globally-produced discourses have contributed to the patriarchal disciplining of women and women’s bodies, it has also contributed to the dislodging and countering of official, hegemonic discursive framing of gender relations and national representations of idealised femininity, and masculinity, within the re-workings and renegotiations of global gender orders and ideologies.
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses

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