The Privilege of Being Raised by Feminist Parents

Saturday, 02 Desember 2017 - 08:25:13 WIB
By : Puti Andiyani | Category: Family & Relationship - 1727 hits
Magdalene Short
“Every time I come home, my mum would bug me with questions about boys and marriage. I hate it!” said one of my closest friends during one of our daily texting session. Like me, she is in her early twenties and still struggling to obtain her bachelor’s degree.
Her declaration made me think of my parents. Thank God my mom never does that, I thought.

Then it hits me: it’s a privilege to have parents like mine, who never pressure me to marry early, and who, instead, push me to pursue higher and better education.

My parents got married later than most people their age; my dad was in his mid-thirties, my mom in her late twenties. Well-educated, they both have bachelor’s degrees. My mom, being the Minang lady that she is, valorizes her culture and instills in both my younger sister and me its feminist values. Our gender, she says, should never pose a barrier to us.

Sometimes there are still some internalized misogyny visible in her words and actions, but most of the times, she never stops us from doing whatever we want, as long as it is positive. My father does the same thing, being a son of a working mother and whose sister also works.

They encouraged both my sister and I to learn martial arts, and they were both super proud when I published my thriller novel – whereas some people seem to find it shocking that a teenage girl could write stories about murder, not love stories.

I remember another story. A friend in high school told me that she could never attend a university located farther than West Java. Her parents, who live in Serang, Banten, wouldn’t let her live too far away from them. Girls should live close to their parents, they said.

The 17-year-old me (and the 22-year-old me now) rolled my eyes upon hearing that. My parents, on the contrary, had been encouraging me to study abroad for years. They even rejected my idea to apply to some universities in Singapore, saying it’s “too close, not even further than West Sumatra, and it still has the same climate as Indonesia.”

If you want to be useful to others, you must go as far as you can and learn things there, they would tell me. Staying close to them would not get me further ahead.

Even my extended family are okay with with the way my parents raise me. They always ask me where I would continue my studies, encouraging me to continue to pursue a doctorate degree, instead of marrying early. Though they did fuss about my decision to remove my jilbab, they are a hundred percent supportive when it comes to achieving a better future in the professional world.

I realize now that in this patriarchal society, where women face a lot of restrictions, having parents who allow you to be who you are, who supports you to go far in life, and who encourage you to visit every corner of the world is a massive privilege. Yes, their views on LGBTQIAP+ community is still problematic, and they could be racist sometimes, but the feminist values they practice in raising me have allowed me to be where I am right now. I am super grateful for it and I wish there are more parents like them.

Puti Andiyani is a student currently struggling to finish her undergrad History studies in France. She spends most of her free time watching TV series & anime and watching & making makeup related videos on YouTube. Is available to talk to on Twitter and Instagram @andiyaniputi

Got an opinion on this issue? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.

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Kiki | 04 Desember 2017 | 12:47:32 WIB
Kamu domisili tinggal di Banten? Somewhere near Cilegon and Serang?
Dana | 04 Desember 2017 | 23:35:53 WIB
Same here! My mom taught me to never depend on a man in any way, especially financially. She encourages me to explore what’s out there and focus on my career as opposed to pushing me to find a partner and get married. They still really want grandkids though and I’m not gonna lie, it sort of puts a pressure on me to get married when I’m still in my “fertile age” (I probably have about 10-12 years left lol). But tbh I sort of don’t want to have kids? At least for now I think I’ll still want to enjoy my life freely until God knows when and having a kid is a big commitment. It’s even bigger than marriage itself. Divorce is always an option if a marriage doesn’t work but you can’t just decide to stop being a parent if you later decide that if it isn’t what you want after all, or if turns out you don’t like how your life has turned out to be after you have a kid. And as progressive-minded as they are, I don’t think my parents can accept this about me
Puti | 06 Desember 2017 | 17:22:08 WIB
@Kiki: nope, I live in Tangerang :)

@Dana: well I guess we can both agree that when it comes to marriage and stuffs around it, most parents are still holding their archaic views. It's a lot harder since it revolves around religious teachings and more strict social norms, maybe.
Linda | 12 Desember 2017 | 14:29:51 WIB
Puti, you are very privileged, indeed. I am a disappointment to my parents because I am almost 30 and not married. They don't seem to understand the importance of having 'parents who allow you to be who you are, who support you to go far in life, and who encourage you to visit every corner of the world is a massive privilege'.
ruthayue | 19 Desember 2017 | 13:07:41 WIB
I envy you, in a lot of ways. The furthest I can try my luck was Bali and after a year, both my parents insist that moving back in with them in Bogor would be "the best for me". The interesting thing is that both of my parents aren't hardline conservatives, they teach me many feminist values such as encouraging me to pursue higher level of education, not relying on men, etc, but I think they are facing a hard time to get out of the old mindset (and maybe ego to keep their daughter close forever) and let me be a true feminist. However I will continue to push it through and I am content enough to kept being reminded by my parents' behavior towards feminism that it will take time to change, and it would take lots of patience and open mind.

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