Archive for the month “February, 2014”

Social Criticism of Indonesian Feminism : Indecision of Culture transition Between Equality of Gender and Responsibility as woman In Novel “ Belenggu”


All of us absolutely knew about feminism, minimal we knew about the emancipation. Equality of rights is always demanded by women all of the world, from west to the east. Surely we understood feminism is begun from western and spread to Asia included on our country, Indonesia. Actually Indonesia itself had have one figured of feminism, She is R.A Kartini and in western we knew Mary Walstonecraft from England, maybe she is the first person who introduced us about feminism.

We didn’t talk about general feminism in the world, we just talk about social criticism of feminism in a Indonesian novel by Armijn Pane. At this story, we will find two women figured whose different enough, they are Tini and Ny. Eny / Yah/ Rohayah/ Siti Hayati. Tini is the modern woman who exalt prestige as the woman, she insisted that become woman should be independent opposites, there is Ny. Eni/ Yah/ Rohayah/ Siti Hayati she tended as the traditional woman. She is tractable and graceful which reflected to real traditional  woman.

Actually both of them also have similarity, it is decided to choose her own way. This two figured are also reflected the reality of Indonesian woman. Not as usual like the other novel, Armijn Pane openly expressing the rebellion of women to demanded their feminism. But, in this novel Armijn Pane also didn’t forget about tradition that entreched in Indonesia. That is system of partriarch, all things is in man control. This is criticized by Armijn Pane, that Indonesian woman felt confused about the culture transition between feminism and traditional culture. This thing occurs to Tini who against her conscience for the sake of her dignity as a woman this indesicion happened on pages 55 “… tergambar dalam hatinya Kartono masuk, letih menjinjing, menjinjing valiesnya. Dia berdiri menyambut suaminya, diambil valies itu, disuruhnya duduk Kartono di kerosi. Di simpannya valies itu. Dia kembali lagi akan membukakan sepatu suaminya, sambil bertanya tentang orang-orang sakit yang baru dikunjunginya. Ah, dia tiada cakap menjadi isteri sejati.”

Tini felt confused about her own lustrous, in a side she wanted to be perfect woman for her husband but in other sides s he also won’t underestimated as woman. It is the reality of feminism, most of woman didn’t want underestimated by men. Almost of them also instead forgot about her obigation as a woman especially from high educational realm. They felt that they are independent, won’t be under men, and may choose the decision. Actually, Tini become a confused woman, she also didn’t know about what she must doing. She won’t make love to be self servitude to men, but she also could not established esteem in her family. We should be recall about what Mary Wollstonecraft insisted in her essays titled “ A Vindication of The Rights of Woman” she claimed that we have to braid esteem with the partner (man). Love is, in a great  degree an arbitrary passion and will reign, like some other stalking mischiefs , by its own authority, and it may also be easily distinguished  from esteem, the foundation of friendship, because it is often excited by evanescent beauties and graces, though, to give an energy to the sentiment, something more solid must deepen their impression and set their imagination to work, to make the most fair- the first good.

Here, Character Tini seem failed to delivery means of feminism. She didn’t get the esteem in her family. “ …Mardani berbisik: Tono pergi hampiri isterimu bisikkan engkau perlu pergi…. dihampirinya isterinya. Tini agak terkejut. Bisik Tono agak cepat : “ Aku pergi….” itu saja yang terdengar oleh Tini, Tono sudah jauh lagi. Pergi, pergi buat apa dikatakannya, hendak menjengkelkan hatiku saja.

Tono and Tini not seem like as usual family, both of them so rigid. Tini not only failed build esteem but also failed to raise love. This is the critical social which Armijn Pane inserted in Belenggu, sometimes women think too much about the social status of her future husband. This happened to Tini, she really wanted to be doctor’s wife and when ambition comes true she didn’t get comfort as a wife. her heart was always afraid that he would be humiliated as a woman.

Social criticism also appear between traditional and modern culture. Tini who actually reflected as modern woman was criticized by her fellows “ …buat apa mendengarkan lagu Eropa disini. Orang tiada mengerti… yang berpendidikan semata-mata itu. Lupa kebudayaan sendiri, lupa lagu gamelan.” I assumed that Armijn Pane has purpose that Indonesia colided with modernism and traditions ( Feminism vs traditions).

Differently with Tini, Siti Rohayah reflected traditional woman. She is graceful and obedient. “ Yah memeluknya : Benar Tono, aku menunggu engkau . kau tadi rusuh, aku merasa kau akan datang lagi. mengapa merasa rusuh Tono?” katanya membelai-belai kepala Tono.” She is really respect to Tono. At least woman like Rohayah to be able to mollify Tono. She is be desired by Tono. But I also found feminism side on Yah. Not similar with Tini whose showed the power behind her vacilation, she exactly showed weaknessess behind her toughness. Evidently, when Yah lied to Tono about her identy. She said that she is Ny. Eni but then she said she is Siti Rohayah, finally she claimed she is Siti Hayati. She is so tricky woman.

Siti Rohayah’s life is also filled with struggle I could took the quotitations “ aku dikawinkan dengan laki-laki yang tidak disukai… aku dibawanya ke Palembang.. aku kemudian lari sampai ke Betawi, pulang ke Bandung… aku tiada berumah tetap, rumahku dihotel berganti-ganti, pindah dari ke kota satu ke kota lain.”

“  didalam hatiku tertawa sebagai setan tertawa, kalau ada lelaki terpikat olehku. Kalau dia merendahkan diri tidur dengan aku, aku senang, aku gembira karena dia tertarik dengan ke lumpur tenpat aku hidup.”

It was clearly showed her hearts she seems weak but actually she also could decided her own decision. Even, she also trapped in “Belenggu”. Actually, these three characters were fittered by each life. Tini with her prestige, Tono with affair, and Yah with her past. In this novel nothing is worth all the blame, everyone have respective defense. Armijn Pane let the readers to interpret it.

Mentioned of social criticism, we need refer to Matthew Arnold’s Theory about his Essay “ The Function of Criticism at The Present Time”.  He claimed that literature is one of unifier nation which conduct the moral. In this study I will combined two theories between Mary Wollstonecraft and Matthew Arnold.

Feminism as the object of social criticism based on the reality in our life, especially in Indonesia. As described previously, I insisted that our nation experienced cultural transition those are : modernism and tradition. Feminism is reflected as modernism that could be able to changed patriarchy rather than to achieve structural social change (Deborah L Madsen, 2000). But unfortunately Indonesia felt confused about this modernism. Belenggu interpreted that Tini not succes to portray herself as modern woman her heart is still in doubt.even, at ending she managed to break free from the shackles that have been chained as woman. It is sign that this transition is need time.

Armijn Pane also describe women who have higher education. Usually they become independent woman and feel no need man because, they are able to support them own self. This resulted dilemma of women as Anne Taylor Allen (2005) states that many of women feel doubt about equality of gender and her obigation as women, At the turn of the twentieth century, many feminists extolled motherhood as the highest of human achievements. Indeed, claimed the influential Swedish author Ellen Key, it was “the most perfect realization of human potential that the species has reached.”5 In the political realm, this view was expressed

through an ideology that historians call “maternalism,” which asserted the public importance of motherhood and child-rearing. Some even includedlife-giving motherhood with death-dealing military service among the rightsand obligations of citizenship.

Most of women let their obigation as women, this things is not only happened by Tini but also Rohayah. At the beginning,  as a woman Rohayah also may called failed in feminism. She become the slave of love and justifies any way, even she was reflection of traditional woman.

I could explained that these theories (Matthew Arnold and Mary Wollstonecraft) are the mimesis approach. Because, my statement is in line with M. Keith ( 1994) that fiction is reflected by reality, specifically designed to divert attention from social problems in the “real” world.

At the ending of the novel “Belenggu” finally Tini and Rohayah have  been able to understand the essence of feminism itself. That is decided her own decision, realising all the chains in her heart without any sense of doubt and wavering. That’s proof that all things must have a process from traditional into modernism.

Became woman doesn’t easy. Sometimes she has to be “woman” and sometimes she has to be “ a man”. women can not let go of his nature as a woman but also he should get equal rights as a human. I think, woman should be like a chameleon that can adapt in order to survive her own self.





Allen Taylor Anne.2005. Feminism and Motherhood in Wester Europe: 1890-1970. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Booker M, Keith.1994. The Dystopian Impulse in Modem Literature : Fiction as Social Criticism. USA : Greenwood Press

Madsen, L Deborah.2000. Feminist Theory and Literary Practice. London: Pluto press

Nurrachman, Dian.2013. Classical Critical Theory: A student Course Book. Bandung: Elsa



Post Navigation