Woman “Privileges”: Honorary or contempting?

What is your opinion on this issue? All the women privileges that we know in our society; are those really meant to respect them because they are women? Or perhaps it’s just a euphemistic way to tell them that they have some certain “stereotypically nature-born” incapability? Let’s say: female parking?

And for women, will you feel honored having such a great ease when parking your car or perhaps you might feel irritated because in your mind, you think that they’re just saying: “Your existence here will bring a catastrophic sluggishness in the parking queue line, so please park here, get out, and go shopping now.

Please mind the phrases inside the quotations above, “stereotypically nature-born”. I do believe in equality of men and women, but I do also believe that there are some commonly accepted stereotypes about women, and so does it about men. And there is where the interesting part lies: how women react to those honorary privileges (considering the stereotypes), and what actually is in our mind, men, when we treat women in a special way.

What is in man’s mind?

It is generally believed that women are humans to be respected and they deserve to be treated specially in order to honor them. Let’s say some examples in daily live: women are to be seated when there is only one seat left in the bus, and men are to open the door and to let women walk into a room before themselves. Gentlemen do that, how noble.

But, in fact, there are some undeniable viewpoints, mostly from men, which do not really feel so noble. “Women as a slow and easy-to-panic driver” is one example. Men, have you ever been in a totally unreasonable “local” traffic jam, as it was caused by only one car that took a very long time to turn her car in the U-turn? And you ended up saying, “Pantesan.. cewe sih yang nyetir..” Men who called himself gentlemen do that as well.

Do you see the inconsistency? The man in the first example did such noble things to honor women, but the man in the second example explicitly shouted out his negative stereotype about women. Then, what if I say that perhaps the gentlemen in the first example acted so noble because they do believe in some “incapability” that women have and they wrap in some way so that it will look noble from the outside? I believe some men have it that way.

How does woman react to those honorary privileges?

I once asked my girlfriend about her point of view on this issue; specifically about the female parking. And lucky me, she said that she will feel very happy to be given such privilege. It would take less time to park her car and more time to do her activities. But imagine if she is a woman who is being oversensitive to gender issues and take it the hard way. I guess she will feel contempt and humiliated, then will probably end up finding another “equal-to-men” parking sites.

Being equal, how far can it go?

I do believe in the equality of men and women, we all should have the same rights in every aspects of life. But, how far can it go?

Dian Sastro herself prefers to use the word “actor” instead of “actress” for the sake of gender issues. Well, I can’t image if she were French. A pronoun for a group of 1000 people consisting 999 women and 1 man is called “ils” (“they”, in English) and is considered masculine. And not to mention about all the adjectives and nouns that have masculine and feminine forms. It is indeed ultimately sexist. But, is it something really essential and needed to be “equalized”?

Those are the three examples: female parking, U-turn unreasonable local traffic jam, and Dian Sastro being linguistically inconvenienced.

OK, let’s get back to the main topic of the discussion.
Men, what is it in your mind when you are acting like a gentlemen? Do you do that because it’s the right thing to do? Or do you do that because it will make your life and everything easier?

Women, what do you think about gender issues and equality? What will be in your mind if you are provided with some “specific-gender” privileges? Will you feel honored, or humiliated? And how far that we all need to be equalized? That “linguistically inconvenienced” far?

Illustration was taken from here.

  • Men and women are different. I do agree that some women do have problems with parking and they are also sometimes slow on the road. But I think more accidents on the road are caused by men.

    As for equality, it would be good if we are treated equally whether at work, in government or in school. Unfortunately, there’s always some kind of stereo-typing in this world.

  • Should we remind ourselves on how patriarchal, sometimes even chauvinistic, Batak culture is in general? Lol. But that’s in general, in a way that we are often being stereotyped in such way.

    Equality. I do believe in equality of universal human rights regardless gender. The morality of human rights naturally recognizes sense of fairness and justice, thus its quest for equality. It comes in the package.

    But that’s morality.

    In practice, it would be hard to literally measure an exact, balanced equality between genders. That’s basically like asking, who loves you most? Your father? Or mother?
    How do we measure that?

    But we could sense it with our minds and hearts; how both differentiates, yet compliments each other. Then again, there’s something that even law of equality itself can’t argue: nature, instinct.

    It would be wise for people to value others, be it men or women, in a substantial way, not in vanity. Being noble or being a gentleman isn’t merely about giving a seat or opening the door for a woman, it’s about character. Being a feminist or an independent woman isn’t just about parking cars or as yonna said, hating marriage or a particular religion.

    Three words that (perhaps!) could help resolve issues on gender equality: Don’t be shallow.

    Thanks for this post, michael.

    *chuckles at yoan’s comment. Good one.

    • Agreed. We’re being cocky and self-gratified when it comes to talking about Batak; like hell. Hahaha.. Well, it seems that I have no doubt but to agree to all of your points you made there. And I guess your 3-word-conclusion wrapped it up already.

      On Yoan: Yes, she’s crazy, no matter what she’s talking about, she always ends up with sex, or something related to that. Hahahaha..

  • Well, it’s the thing that has been part of our culture I guess. .
    in being gentlemen, we expected to be acted like a gentlemen! means that we have to treat woman as a lady, opening the door, help with their luggage, and any kind of privileges. .
    I’m sorry to say that a woman sometimes were so over demanding, . .they asked for an equality, the same right, both in career and everyday life, but when it comes to a financial problem in a family, women said that it is the duty of a man to find money as much as he can to support the family. .
    hahaha, well, they are a women, . .

    • Hahahahahaha.. sad-yet-true fact. One more thing, when they got PMS, they want us to understand WHATEVER emotional conditions they are having! WHAT??! So woman can do whatever they want and use PMS as their justification?! Well, that’s a crap thought. I love woman no matter what.

  • If we specifically talk about female parking spots, I would think it more from the safety side. As we all know in Jakarta dangers are just around the corner so having the spots nearby the entrance is considerably more safe than on the dark, far, corner where thugs can easily damage the car or the driver. Especially during the night.

    On the other hand, as far as I know there is no dedicated parking spots for female in UK - mostly because it’s pretty much safe everywhere.

    One thing that Indonesia needs, if we talk about equality, is actually follow the general/international rules for handicap people. More than often the buildings don’t provide access to handicap people, let alone handicap parking.

    • So we reckon that Indonesia is not putting enough concern on driver’s safety, don’t you think? But I’m still curious why women then is reputed to have the possibility for the unsafe circumstances to happen. What do yo feel about that?

      And I guess that’s the fact we see here in Indonesia when it comes to facilities for handicap people.

  • Hi Mike, this is an interesting post.

    My friends and I were heading to the Ngopi Doeloe Cafe, behind Gramed, so we parked at BEC. As we walked by the building, towards, the bookstore, I saw a sign in front of the lot that said “Lady’s Parking”. I asked my friend what the hell that was for, because never before have I ever seen a gender-specific parking lot. Where else in the world does this happen? (Please let me know, because I might be more sheltered than i thought).

    The first thought that crossed my mind when I saw that sign was that it was completely unnecessary. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. There is no reason why women should be given that so-called privilege of getting their own parking space. Is it offensive? No. On the flip side, like your gf said, we don’t have to sweat about driving around a traffic jammed bandung. But is it necessary? NO!

    There is a line between chivalry and being condescending.
    Being chivalric does not mean you’re being condescending. It just means you’re being polite. It means you have manners.

    No one should deny that men and women are different.
    However, differences in our genetic make-up does not signify inequality.

    If Indonesia want’s to achieve true gender equality, showering women with strange privileges isn’t the right track. True gender equality is achieved when both men and women are given the same opportunities and chances.
    Should that involve changing our day to day vocabulary? Personally, I wouldn’t go that far. After all the word “man” refers to the entirety of the human race, not men specifically. I’m a feminist but I don’t sweat the small stuff.

  • about parking, I know I’m really good. I am. *stares meaningfully* Go ask my friends. Heck, go ask my dad! I’ll give you his email. So i take it as their way of rewarding me for being such an excellent park-er (what’s the proper english for “pemarkir”?) :lol: my point is, I don’t really mind because it advantages me in a way that it saves time (especially when you’re looking for a space in citos) :razz:

    as for (as mentioned by Colson) rising when the lady of the house enters, taking the coats of arriving female guests, giving women freeway when standing in line (you do that? do you have a son?), opening doors, carrying bags and paying bills after dining together,,, I say, all of them also advantages the male species in a way that it feeds their ego *grin* You know, the need to feel that your presence makes some lady feel more comfortable,, that you have helped her by holding the door,, that you made that expensive meal possible, which is all very sweet by the way.

    so you see; when we’re happy, you’re happy. Women get privileges in parking and Men get laid. :wink:

    • okay then, as it ends up with men getting laid, i have no doubt on you but to agree. hahahahaha..

  • Very interesting topic.

    I’m not sure why i’ve never found your site before but i just did (via Indomatters). it’s a very nice site, i like it a lot, and a very interesting subject.

    i don’t really believe in equal-genderless subject, but too tired to do this at the moment. I’ll be sure to come back, or maybe do a post meself later :)

    nice to meet you Jubel!

  • I will go for equal rights, always.

  • I do believe that men and women are equal, but they are meant to be different. Men have their own special role in society and so do women, thus things like “men’s things” and “women’s things” exist.

    I completely agree with Colson, men, sometimes, treat women politely and gently to show their superiority and I used to be gentle for that purpose as well. :lol:

    I think most of us are being gentle because we just think it’s right (or cool?? :lol:)to do so.

    • Indeed, it’s very cool. I believe you get the feeling of self-proclaimed-respect when you treat woman gentlemanly. Well, it seems that this is man’s thing overall, don’t you think? We honor women to honor ourselves? Hahahaha!

  • wah Mike, kayanya ente kudu ngirim nih tulisan ke Jakarta Post deh?! Keren, terutama pertanyaan terakhir yang ditujukan kepada pria dan wanita, sehingga Mike gak menimbulkan teori baru namun membuat para pembaca berpikir karena jawabannya emang ada di diri mereka sendiri.

    I prefer the word “perempuan” to “wanita” because wanita stands for wani and tata or toto, it means wani ditoto, berani ditata, dare to be controlled. Just like Dian Sastro, I feel linguistically inconvenient too, because I’ve already known what “wanita” stands for.

    Other thing, just like “Mrs” and “Ms” word. Due to women’s liberalization, they choose the latter because it’s more equal than “Mrs” because it will be better not to use “Mr” factor and use “Ms”.

    These privileges matter, should we the ladies be flattered or offended? It depends on the local culture and custom, I think. If we live in “feminist” place then it might be a contempting but if we live in moderate place it might be a honorary thing.

    By being a feminist doesn’t mean we become an emotional and bad-tempered creature especially when it comes to gender and feminism issue and treat men as if they are ladies’ enemy. I’ve met that kind of feminist, she hates marriage and support hedonism way of living, and the worst she hates Islam because she believes Islam has been insulting women all this time(head veil, polygamy, Siti Aisyah’s age when she got married, so on). I think that kind of feminist doesn’t have to be such an extrimist on this matter, always gives achy-breaky heart opinion. Believe me, it will be better if we give strong basis opinion in logical way not emotional way.

    Let’s honor ourselves as masterpiece creature, viva ladies :)

    • Hahaha.. Mbak Yonna ini bisa aja; masih jauh atuh buat Jakarta Post hehe..

      Btw, that’s new; I’ve just known the linguistic history of that word and its etymological meaning. And it seems that it’s true that we have to get our logic on when basing our opinions on stuff like these.

  • Before gone further to the so-called-never-ending-questions in Gender Equality stuff, I must admit that I admire women so much. I respect them, and furthermore, I would do everything I can to make them comfortable. Well, answering your question, Michael … my answer is that I act like a gentleman because for me it’s the right thing to do. I mean, like it or not, we men are such fools when it comes to women-thing. And also, I think—well, most of us—that men act like a gentlemen not because that is something that they are obliged to do … They think that it’s a privileged (moreover, honored) thing to do so.

    Gender equality issue is among us, but then, one of the most questions is that whether those who propose the women’s emancipation actually generalized the community as a whole. Here and there, there are some women who actually loved being treated in a special way. But the point is, there are some fields that women really urgently need to be equalized, such as jobs, salary and violence stuffs. The one thing what women need to do if they want to be equalized is to enhance their capabilities also. In doing so, they could fulfill not just those rights but also their obligations. The awful truth is that most of those who actually fight the woman’s rights actually forgetting to fulfill their obligation first.

    Anyway, at some situation I feel like being a woman is actually a privilege. For example, in Indonesian case, the jobs of TV Anchor are more popular for women (i.e Chantal De La Concetta, Najwa Shihab), female writers such as Dewi Lestari and Ayu Utami are also famous. But I must admit that in other grassroots society, the gender issue are still sad yet heart-throbbing.


    • Well, on being a gentlemen, you can say that again, I agree with you. But, have you ever felt any hidden meanings behind all the gentle things that you’ve done? We both agree that it’s the right thing to do, but to me, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing behind it. Hahaha. I mean, in some case, I do feel that helping them out is to make things technically easier for her and for me: carrying heavyweight stuffs for instance.

      Anyway, talking about jobs, do you realize that women are nowadays filling our car fuel tanks? They’re nearly in every gas station. Hahaha.

    • mahel mahelino

      Yeah, I agree with you also with that point. It’s interesting by the way to asking these kinds of questions since the situation happens in our daily basis. I do feel that that (not intentionally, or impulsively) there are some hidden meanings on those gentle things. But hey, I do enjoy it:) don’t you?

      Well since I am one of those ‘angkot-ers’ I quite seeing that (well, to me at least) major improvements. I even noticed when accompanying my dad to Jakarta that some of “Angkot” driver there is actually a woman. The progress is there though we still had to fight it.

      I think we should give credits also to some women tennis player such as Venus Williams for her strong proposals to fighting for equal prize between men’s and women’s champion in Wimbledon. Before her proposals, the tournament provided less rewards money for the Women’s champion than the Men’s Champion.

      My favourite cousin, Amita Bahar, wrote an interesting opinion that I think quite related to your article, from women’s point of view. I think you could find it entertaining also.



  • Tough question, tough question..

    Like you I’m all for equal rights. But in spite of my good intentions I can’t escape my fate…

    Being an old man, I’m trained in some kind of chivalry towards women (and towards old or handicapped people as well)- it makes my behavior suspicious. Rising if the lady of the house enters, taking the coats of arriving female guests , giving women freeway when standing in line, opening doors for them, carrying their bags and paying the bills after dining together. Yes, it is just old fashioned politeness, but condescending all the same because essentially it’s based on the remains of an old feudal society in which men ought to worship ladies but at the same time considered them to be inferior to men.

    As for the subject women and cars: this is awkward. And usually dominated by sheer prejudice on the part of men. Prejudices, because though it’s a well established fact that men, generally speaking, have a brain better equipped for three dimensional vision than women have (so most men are better in parking cars than most women), women have far better safe driving records being ( again generally speaking) more cautious.

    If I weren’t a man I would love to be a lady.

    • Exactly. Even in the year of, men are to worship ladies and to consider them to be inferior an the same time. And not to mention that there is a possibility of the existence of the hidden agendas (purpose, intentions, feelings, and opinions) behind the honorary actions. Like you, even I’m younger than you, I prefer myself to do the old-fashioned way of politeness because I feel it’s the right thing to do.

      And if you weren’t a man, you have no choice other than being a lady, Colson. I mean, do you have any other choice? :grin: