Minggu, 18 Januari 2015

Heterosexual Marriage Normativity in Process of Social Reproduction in Indonesian Social Discourse on Gender

Heteronormativity tends to be produced and reproduced in Indonesia. Wieringa (2014) points out that heteronormativity is practiced in daily activities that are shaped by social construction and institutions. For instance, Government Rules of Reproductive Health Law (Ministry of Law and Human Rights 2014) states that relationship in that law refers to heterosexual, while homosexual is claimed as dysfunction sexuality. Wieringa (2014) mentions that heteronormativity is built by assumptions of binary concepts that occur naturally, such as human being are divided only by biological identities (woman and men) and by sexual preference as ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’. This certainly effects to marriage practices in Indonesia as well.

Heterosexual marriage assumed as one of life phases that need to be done. As van der Kroef (1957) says, society do concern about marriage as if it is not a personal thing. Most people put an effort to intervene other’s marriage-related life, such as asking when they will get married in daily conversation, even insisting marriage arrangement. The concern is shown by the number of marriage in Jakarta in 2012 which is doubled than previous year, whereas the report for 2013 and 2014 have not established yet (BPS - Statistic of Jakarta Province 2013). Jones and Yeung (2014) seem to be implying that marriage normativity has been existed for a long time, at least they show the data from 1970; moreover marriage normativity has been existed intergenerationally.

It is in line with the definition of social reproduction by Laslett and Brenner (1989: 382) that says social reproduction from the feminists’ perspective is ‘the activities and attitudes, behaviors and emotions, responsibilities and relationships directly involved in the maintenance of life on a daily basis, and intergenerationally.’  They also say that timing of age marriage also can be called social reproduction as family strategy (Laslett and Brenner 1989: 385). This shows that heterosexual marriage normativity is informed as social reproduction practice. Heterosexual marriage normativity gives impacts, particularly to woman[1] because she has more pressure, although man also effected. Woman herself mainly in the phase after 12 years of education since marriage normativity is getting stronger after that phase in Indonesian urban.

This essay focuses on how heterosexual marriage normativity in Jakarta informs the processes of social reproduction in Indonesian social discourses on gender. To support that argument, the essay first looks into norms and laws that exist in Indonesia. Secondly, seeing it through the practices in the institutions. Thirdly, as conclusion, how it shows heterosexual marriage normativity is assumed as a social norm that practices within power relations between institutions and effects macroeconomic policies in Indonesia, including woman’s strategies to cope with gender inequality norms.

Norms and Rules of Heterosexual Marriage
Heterosexual marriage normativity can be seen in daily life. Wieringa (2014) says that heteronormativity is firmed by practices and norms that effect people’s behaviours and feelings, then transfer it to their children. Advertising and daily language can reveal it. Ideal image of married couple with children can be seen in advertisements and they are everywhere, so easy to be seen. Image 1 and 2 are taken from website advertising of two different banks currently. Image 3 is an advertising of a soap brand, Lifebuoy, from 1980 in a newspaper. It shows heterosexual marriage normativity has been existed from a long time ago. Those images picture how family as heterosexual marriage is expected in the society.

Image 1

The image of the web advertising of state bank in Indonesia that offers housing-credit ('http://www.btn.co.id/' 2014).

Image 2

The image of the web advertising of private bank in Indonesia that offers housing-credit ('Info KPR Bank Mandiri' 2015).

Image 3

The image of the printing advertisement of Lifebuoy in 1980 ('Reklame Cap Tangan Th 1980' 2013).

Heterosexual marriage normativity also appears in the terms that use in daily conversation, such as perawan tua and bujang lapukPerawan tua means ‘old virgin’, a special term to point woman that has not married in her early 30s, meanwhile bujang lapuk that means ‘rotten bachelor’ is used to call a man that has not married in his late 30s. Hence, the society has different expectation on age for woman and man to get married. Another one is tidak laku which means ‘not saleable’ to refer people that do not have partner. Here, position of woman and man are correlated with ‘the things’ that need to be sold. As if, marriage is one thing that people must do to avoid those terms that imply stigma. 

Wieringa’s argument (2002: 235) can firm heterosexual marriage normativity has existed for decades by saying in 1960s, marriage is really important for lighten up women status that is proven by the marriage certificates. She points that the more important the husband in society, the higher status the wife gets and she could loose the status when get divorce. It indicates the husband determines the wife’s status, hence wife’s existence is not as a human being, but defined by her role. It of course strengthen women subordination. Nonetheless, man tends to not experiencing the same thing probably because patriarchal culture is dominant in Indonesia. An outshot of this is marriage appears to be important for the society.

Heterosexual marriage normativity strengthen by the Islamic values as well because the majority (more than 80%) are Moslem. The normative family model is implied in religious norms (Wieringa 2014). In fact, Koran seems not mention a marriage as an obligatory activity. There are some Surah which mostly referred when talking about marriage: Al-Dzariyat (51): 49, Ya Sin (36): 36, An-Nisa (4): 1, 3, An-Nahl (16): 72, and An-Nuur (24): 32. Those five Surah generally indicate that God created human as couple, but not mention that everyone have to be in marriage institution.

The similar thing can be seen in the Bible in Corinthias 7:37, But he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own heart, to keep his own virgin, will do well.’ In Catholic, since the priest cannot be married, the pressure presumably is not as strong as in Islam, hence people who are studying in theological—particularly in Catholic—are put aside from marriage normativity. However, the marriage normativity in Jakarta is experienced by most believers regardless their religion.

The legacy to heirs also confirms the heterosexual marriage normativity. In Islam, it refers to legacy law, whereas other religions refer to the Civil Code. The rules are similar. The legacy only can be given to legitimate spouse and children which proven by the certificate (Ratnaningsih and Lasmina 2007). For instance, couple who live together cannot get any legacy if they are not married and neither can children who their father’s name is not written in birth certificate.

Even Indonesia is not a state based on religion, Islam has been the central of state administration, including marriage law, yet Robinson (2006: 184) points that it seems legitimized by the establishment of Ministry of Religion on 1946; moreover, political and social statement can be legitimated by Islamic law (Robinson 2006: 187). For example, before the existence of Marital Law, marriage in Indonesia referred to Islamic Law.

In a response to Islamic law as a basis on marriage in Indonesian, Marital Law was revised in 1974. It was a fight to arranged marriage, child marriage, and polygyny (Wee 2012, Cammack et al. 1996, Bedner and Huis 2010). They mention that the differences between Islamic values and revised Marital Law relate to marriage registration, higher age limit to get married, and consent from both sides. Bedner and Huis (2010) think it is just another reproduction of norms and practices of marriage. Nevertheless, in the Marital Law, there is no written article that states marriage is compulsory in Indonesia.

Marriage in Indonesia needs to be registered to the State and it depends on religion that is written in groom and bride’s identity card. For Moslem couple, they need to legitimate their marriage to Kantor Urusan Agama (KUA – Office of Religious Affair) and it is automatically acknowledged by the State. For others religions[2], the couple needs to register their marriage to the Civil Registry after ceremony in the temples or churches (Bedner and Huis 2010: 179) as written in Article 2 (Ministry of Law and Human Rights 1974). Other religions couple need to do the process twice (the ceremony and the registration), but Moslem only once. It seems to show that there is a differentiation between Moslem couple and other religions.

After the marriage registered, there are some changes in the rules apply for married couple, such as properties and income tax. Properties become joint properties, except it is owned before the marriage, as written in Article 35 of Marital Law (Ministry of Law and Human Rights 1974). Married couple also gets income tax reduction as states in Article 7 of Income Tax Law (Ministry of Law and Human Rights 2008), although the couple still has a choice whether joint or separate their income tax account. It is possibly because the assumption that after married, a couple tends to start living by their own, so they have more expenditure, such as housing rent. It shows that married couple gets privilege rather than unmarried.

Government Rules of Reproduction Health in 2014 and Labour Law in 2003 need to be mentioned since it writes the equal rights for every citizen, particularly woman, regardless their marital status. The first one, in Article 11, mentions that youth has right to get reproductive health service to avoid and protect them from risky sexual behaviour that can effect their reproduction health (Ministry of Law and Human Rights 2014). The latter, in Article 153, mentions that company is prohibited using marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage, or breastfeeding as a reason to fired employee (Ministry of Law and Human Rights 2003).

Government Rules of Reproduction Health (Ministry of Law and Human Rights 2014) is making the abortion for unmarried woman become possible. It states that abortion becomes legal if it is caused by rape with some requirements, such as pregnancy is less than 40 days and a proof from a doctor. Even the requirement seemly has not considered the woman’s psychological condition after the incident of rape, it could be appreciated since there is a recognition of protection. Before this law has established, abortion only can be done in medical reason. It only applies for married women because it needs an informed consent from the husband.

Heterosexual marriage normativity does not give impacts only to woman and man, but also to children who were not born in marriage institution. To get birth certificate, marriage certificate most of the time are being asked. Birth certificate is important to get rights as a citizen, for instance applying school, identity card, and visa. Article 43 in Marital Law (Ministry of Law and Human Rights 1974) states that a child has law-relation only to the mother. In addition, Article 55 in Administrative Population Law (Ministry of Law and Human Rights 2006) is stated that birth certificate can be established under mother’s name only. Father who is not married to the mother and/or wants to be legitimate parent can apply to Population Department, so the right of the parents are still equal. By law, the baby is allowed to have a birth certificate as their citizen identity without marriage certificate of their parents. It is contrary to Wieringa’s writings that says children that were born in unofficial marriage are excluded in getting birth certificate (2014: 29.

The laws imply a protection to those children and avoid woman in a risk of having unwanted marriage just to legitimize the children. Constitution has also considered this situation. As Article 28 (Republic of Indonesia 1945) has written, abandon children will be taken care by the State and it refers to children who were born from unexpected pregnancy or whose parents cannot afford them to live.

Practices of Heterosexual Marriage Normativity in Institutions
Marriage has a role in development since it has impacts to strong community (Jones and Yeung 2014: 1568). The impacts of heterosexual marriage normativity can be seen in practices of health system and labour market. Firstly, it is shown in health service in the hospital, particularly for women sexual reproduction health. Patient is not allowed to take sexual reproductive health test in one of the hospitals in Jakarta because of unmarried status without being asked whether she has been sexually active or not which would be more essential question. In Government Rules of Reproduction Health (Ministry of Law and Human Rights 2014) is written that everyone should have same rights as mentioned above. [3] Although there is another hospital that can be referred, it is more expensive.[4] In the similar case, there is no further question for man who wants to take sexual reproduction health test.[5] Position of unmarried woman needs to be review in sexual reproduction health system, considering health is basic need and right for every citizen.

Second, marriage normativity is indicated in the labour market through companies’ recruitment on the advertisements. Some of those are required a letter which states the applicant has not married or even explicitly writes it only applies for unmarried people. It might be assumed that married people have less time and less productive rather than unmarried one. It seems as an advantage for unmarried at the first time since they have more opportunities, but it could be seen as an opportunity to be exploited too and it applies for men and women.

The essay shows that heterosexual marriage normativity is a practice of social reproduction. Not only that, but also power relation within the norms, laws, and practices between society, state, and religious leaders and it keeps reproduce over period of time. The strong power relation between state and religion, particularly Islam, is seen when revising the Marital Law. Cammack et al (1996: 61) claim that the State’s intention of revising the Marital Law was tackling Islamic dominant influence. The State practiced their power because, one of the reasons, Islamic courts had grown (Katz and Katz 1978: 316).

The essay presents that the state looks like filling in the gap in heterosexual marriage normativity through the laws. The state seems to protect the citizens from more dominant norms of heterosexual normativity, such as social norms and religious values. The establishment of Marital Law, Labour Law, Government Rules of Reproduction Health, and birth certificate policy is efforts to protect the citizens regardless their marital status, though those laws are untied with intersectional critiques. For instance, homosexuality is still excluded by saying it is a dysfunctional sexuality (Ministry of Law and Human Rights 2014). The State seems to practice the power to address the impacts, except the income tax. The macroeconomic policy that implies in Tax Policy is questioned since it gives incentive only to married people. Heterosexual marriage normativity is practiced as universalistic norm.

Heterosexual marriage normativity seems to determine social exclusion for people who have not married. They get lack of service from the hospital, inequality treatment from companies, and being exposed of the stigma as seen in Figure 1. It is in line to what Silver (2007) says that in social exclusion, there are obstacles to participate, be recognized, and have access in the social relation.

Figure 1

Heterosexual marriage normativity is firmed by the social discourse on gender which woman tends to have more oppression that caused by marriage normativity. Woman is surrounded by the norms, rules, and institutions that makes her constrains their agency in making life decision. It might be because social reproduction of biophysical reproduction that implies in woman since they are the one who will carry the baby on their womb and giving birth. The oppressions that woman experienced are shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2

It also raises the issue of who owns woman’s sexuality. The oppressions effect woman interprets her body differently, hence she has distance with her own body. It limits exploration of sexuality as natural thing. Anything that relates to sexuality should make women shy (Wieringa 2002: 248) and it is taboo to talk about it. Woman is separated from her body because it is controlled by the power. Unfortunately, the power relation to control women’s body still continue, for instance the law arranges who have right to do abortion and get reproduction health service. Knowing this happens repeatedly, woman has strategies to cope with this social exclusion.

Some of them prefer to agree in arranged marriage by the family.[6] Relying on close relatives and friends that they feel understand of their situation and conditions can be other options.[7] There is also a forum or website for single mother in Indonesia and many of them are unmarried.[8] It becomes a ‘free-space’ for them to share their experiences and giving support to each other. In that forum mentions that one of the strategies is become online entrepreneur, so they can do the work from their ‘savety home’ to earn some money.

In conclusion, I am in agreement with Wieringa (2014: 29)‘Heteronormativity is not limited to the bedroom but extends its tentacles into courtrooms, boardrooms and into all locations in which societal institutions operate’  with a prespective of heterosexual marriage normativity. Heterosexual marriage normativity implies in social policies and practices in institutions. It is embedded in process of social reproduction in Indonesia, particularly in social discourse on gender.

'Info KPR Bank Mandiri' (Image) (Last updated 2015) (a webpage of Bank Mandiri). Accessed January/8 2015 .
'http://www.btn.co.id/' (Image) (Last updated 2014) (a webpage of Bank BTN). Accessed January/8 2015 .
'Reklame Cap Tangan Th 1980' (Image) (Last updated 2013). Accessed January/8 2015 .
Bedner, A. and S.v. Huis (2010) 'Plurality of Marriage Law and Marriage Registration for Muslims in Indonesia: A Plea for Pragmatism', Utrecht Law Review 6: 175-191.
BPS - Statistic of Jakarta Province (ed.) (2013) Jakarta in Figures 2013. Jakarta: BPS - Statistic of Jakarta Province.
Cammack, M., L.A. Young and T. Heaton (1996) 'Legislating Social Change in an Islamic Society-Indonesia's Marriage Law', The American Journal of Comparative Law 44(1): 45-73.
Jones, G.W. and W.J. Yeung (2014) 'Marriage in Asia', Journal of Family Issues 35(12): 1567-1583.
Katz, J.S. and R.S. Katz (1978) 'Legislating Social Change in a Developing Country: The New Indonesian Marriage Law Revisited', The American journal of comparative law 26(2): 309-320.
Laslett, B. and J. Brenner (1989) 'Gender and Social Reproduction: Historical Perspectives', Annual Review of Sociology : 381-404.
Ministry of Law and Human Rights (2014) 'Reproduction Health'. Government Rules, Republic of Indonesia.
Ministry of Law and Human Rights (2008) 'Income Tax'. Law, Republic of Indonesia.
Ministry of Law and Human Rights (2006) 'Administrative Population'. Law, Republic of Indonesia.
Ministry of Law and Human Rights (2003) 'Labour'. Law, Republic of Indonesia.
Ministry of Law and Human Rights (1974) 'Marriage'. Law, Republic of Indonesia.
Ratnaningsih, E. and U. Lasmina (2007) 'Hukum Keluarga, Masalah Perempuan Dan Anak', in A.P.M. Zen and D. Hutagalung (eds) Panduan Bantuan Hukum Di Indonesia: Pedoman Anda Memahami Dan Menyelesaikan Masalah Hukum, (2 edn). Jakarta: YLBHI.
Republic of Indonesia (1945) 'Basic Laws 1945'. Constitution, Republic of Indonesia.
Robinson, K. (2006) 'Muslim Women's Political Struggle for Marriage Law Reform in Contemporary Indonesia', 'Muslim Women's Political Struggle for Marriage Law Reform in Contemporary Indonesia', Mixed Blessings: Laws, Religions, and Women's Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region, Vol. 1. Leiden [etc.]: Nijhoff.
Silver, H. (2007) 'The Process of Social Exclusion: The Dynamics of an Evolving Concept
', CPRC Working Paper
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van der Kroef, J.M. (1957) 'Woman and the Changing Marriage Pattern of Indonesia', The American Catholic Sociological Review 18(2): 113-127.
Wee, V. (2012) 'The Politicization of Women's Bodies in Indonesia: Sexual Scripts as Charters for Action', in A. Hélie and H. Hoodfar (eds) Sexuality in Muslim Contexts: Restrictions and Resistance, London: Zed.
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[1] Woman as singular word is used, even if it refers to plural, to show the individuality as woman that has different experience. It is also used to avoid the assumption that women is only one classification and neglect the heterogeneity. It is applied as well in the using of man.
[2] Indonesia only acknowledges six religions: Islam, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddha, and Konghucu.
[3] Personal experience, 2014.
[4] The first one is run public hospital and the latter is private hospital; that is the reason it costs more. It cannot be generalized as the difference of public and private services since the sample is only one.
[5] Personal communication, 2014.
[6] Personal communication, 2010.
[7] Personal communication, 2012.

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