INTRODUCTION: FRAGILE IDENTITIES
Deconstructing Women and Indonesia
Laurie
J.
Sears
And she the eldest daughter!
... life could have been good, waiting for her turn to buy, for so many sarongs
and headcloths woven with gold or silver thread and weighed on the scales, a man
she liked; waiting to bear children, preferably female children! Listening to the
roaring waters, the tall rustling trees, and half an hour after midnight the crackle
of blazing torches, and the sound of men's voices coming through the dark, as
they climbed down the stairs of the longhouses, complaining as they went.
Waiting for her turn to become a head of the family, of all the families in the
longhouse, after her mother had died.
(from "The Sirens," Maria Dermout-Ingerman,
1962)'
... Son - without a woman, a knight goes against his nature as a man. Woman
is the symbol of life, and the bringer of life, offertility, prosperity, of well-being.
She is not just a wife to a husband. Woman is the center around which circles and
from which comes the giving of life, and life itself. This is how you should look
upon this old mother of yours, and what should guide you in bringing up your
daughters.
(from
This Earth afMankind,
Pramoedya Ananta Toer
1990 [1975])2
I.
Maria Dermout-Ingerman, "The Sirens,"
in
Cornelius Niekus Moore, ed.,
Insulinde:
Selected Translations from Dutch Writers of Three Centuries on the Indonesian Archipelago,
Asian
Studies at Hawaii, no.
20
(Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii,
1978),
p.
170.
2.
Pramoedya Ananta Toer,
This Earth of Mankind (1975;
rev. ed., New York: William
Morrow;
1990),
p.
312.
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