Dear Ridwan Kamil, Remove Yourself from Your Wife’s Narrative

Thursday, 14 Desember 2017 - 22:43:46 WIB
By : Theodora Sarah Abigail | Category: Social Issues - 34252 hits

Dear Pak Ridwan, I’m writing this letter to you because I read your recent Instagram post about how proud you are of your wife’s accomplishments. I found the sentiment very sweet.


You then seemed confused as to why people left rude comments on your post, or took issue with parts of your caption. I saw the defense you provided in the following posts.


You say that your marriage was founded in a belief and love in Islam, which is something I can recognize and appreciate. After all, my own marriage is founded in a belief and love in Catholicism. In Catholicism, wives are also expected to submit to their husbands, who act as the head of the households.


Don’t believe me? Read Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do the Lord.”


It’s pretty clear that as a Catholic wife, I have to submit to my husband. I have to respect his place as the head of the family. I’m sure you’d agree with everything I’m saying so far.


But, here’s the thing: if you read on a little bit more, you’ll get to Ephesians 5:25, which says: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”


So, in Catholicism, wives do have to submit to their husbands. But husbands must also to love and submit to – and even sacrifice themselves for – their wives too. It has to work both ways.


But that’s not why I’m writing this letter.


You said in your Instagram caption that you “care very much about the potential for women to move forward.” This is the first statement you make – that you’ve given your wife permission to be as great as she possibly can be because you care about women.


Look, Pak Ridwan. I mean this very respectfully, but, honestly, when I read your comment, I don’t feel like you really care about me. I don’t feel like you care about women at all. I think that you care about yourself.


Let me break down your caption: “I give my wife permission and support to study for her master’s degree. I’ve even given her permission to lead more than six organizations.”


I often invite her to watch football and practice climbing with me, and even go rafting, activities that some believe belong to the world of men. That’s because I respect modern women very, very much."


And here’s the clincher: “If I demand that my wife focuses on raising our family and requested that she go for spa treatments regularly and asks her to take care of her body and face so that she is always lovely and clean, it’s because that’s part of the nature of her gender, so that I always fall in love with her more each day.”


Pak, I can respect the foundation of your marriage, and I congratulate you for being married for 21 years. You’re clearly doing something right. But at the same time, I find that your claim that you care about women lacks sincerity.


When I read your post, all I hear about is you, you, you, and you. What I hear is that you think your wife should be grateful, because you have given her so many opportunities to succeed. She should be thanking you, because you are a kind husband who supports her dreams.


What about her? If you really believe in women’s potential, why didn’t you talk more about your wife? Why did you talk about yourself as a man and about everything you’ve done for her as a husband?


Caring about women means giving them the freedom to learn about who they are and what they want. It means valuing them, not just as women, but as individuals. What we’ve been fighting for all this time is recognition and respect based on our own successes and achievements. We are wives, sisters, daughters, and mothers, but we are also humans who deserve to be valued based on our own merit.


If you really want to prove that you care about women, try talking less about your contributions and more about her success. Talk about her strengths and accomplishments. Let people know that she’s amazing not because you “allow” her to be or because you “support” her. She would be amazing with or without you. You aren’t the reason she accomplishes wonderful things. She does that all by herself.


Think of it this way: women (and everyone) are like stars. Stars produce their own light. Your wife is a star that produces light. She shines brightly because that’s her nature as a star, not because you allow her to do that. If her light isn’t visible, then something – or someone – must be blocking it.


Your entire caption says, “My wife shines because I let her,” and “My wife shines so brightly because of me.” And your last statement says, “I control how bright she shines, and demand that she shines even brighter to fulfill her responsibility to me, her husband.”


Do you see how selfish and arrogant that sounds?


As women, all we want is to shine freely. And sometimes being a feminist or caring about women simply involves stepping aside and giving them the spotlight for a change. Want to learn how to really help women? Remove yourself from the narrative for a second, and think about how you can help women shine freely. Let them stand on their own two feet.


My warmest regards,


Theodora Sarah Abigail is a writer and ordinary girl living in Jakarta with her husband and daughter. She is the author of In the Hands of a Mischievous God and writes occasionally on her blog.

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

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Sasa | 15 Desember 2017 | 15:20:08 WIB
Dear Ebi,

This is one good written article. I admire the way you think and how you transform what's inside your mind into words, smooth but on-point. Another thing is, this is exactly what crossed my mind the first time I read Ridwan Kamil's post about her wife. 'Aku-sentris'. :)).
Ratih | 15 Desember 2017 | 19:21:06 WIB
Finally......someone doing her job. Love this article
animenur | 15 Desember 2017 | 20:45:41 WIB
Do you know what's the most annoying thing about this issue is? We never get to hear anything from the wife herself. Everything is said through him. It's like as if she has no voice of her own.
Thia | 15 Desember 2017 | 21:17:57 WIB
Yes. Thank you for writing this. This is what I had in mind and you put it very eloquently. :)
Addie | 15 Desember 2017 | 23:06:17 WIB
Tbh i personally zoned out and cancelled him as soon as i found the word 'mengizinkan'.
Linda | 16 Desember 2017 | 10:30:14 WIB
Love this article! My mind went 'what the...' when I read the word 'mengizinkan'. The instagram post can be a collage of his beautiful wife, but the caption is all about him.
Herman | 16 Desember 2017 | 12:01:51 WIB
I see this as another feminist rant. Of course you want everyone to see from your point of view, but have you ever thought, that maybe the intention of Ridwan Kamil’s post is to inspire other Muslim men, to be more aware about woman empowerment. You just need to see the bigger picture and be aware that not all ideas are for your consumption only.
Bunga | 16 Desember 2017 | 17:00:31 WIB
Well Herman, right back at you: not all ideas are for your (and "other Muslim men") consumption only. What Ridwan Kamil has in mind can be interpreted differently and Theodora, the writer of this opinion, has written her interpretation beautifully. To say that what she has in mind as "another feminist rant" speaks more about you than her. If anything, I'd rather other Muslim men to be inspired by real feminist men (my dad is a good example) than an egocentric man who boasts to be women empowerment champion like Ridwan Kamil.
Gema | 16 Desember 2017 | 21:06:56 WIB
Don't take someone words out of context to justify your point of view. It just not fair. It just feel like you are nitpicking things because you just hate someone. And if we spent energy to find flaw of everyone, of course we'll find it. Because nobody's perfect. Of course ridwan kamil is not perfect, but he tried to give an example to general population, which many of them is still have backward mentality. Do you realize that he meant to give example to people that still think that women should be just in kitchen? He tried to show that letting woman going further in education is cool.

Of course we should promote gender equality to advance in society, but nitpicking things to give yourself a moral high ground is propesterous. And that's the reason why many people distance themselves with people that say they are feminist, because it feels you just poking everywhere to find enemies rather than to educate masses about the potential they are having.
Anya | 16 Desember 2017 | 23:28:06 WIB
Saya sangat setuju dengan komentar Gema 🙂
Andri | 17 Desember 2017 | 03:10:38 WIB
Very well said Gema.
Dama | 17 Desember 2017 | 10:01:45 WIB
Setuju sama gema 💯
Amadea dewi | 17 Desember 2017 | 11:40:41 WIB
Very well said..
Ardian | 17 Desember 2017 | 17:19:07 WIB
@ Gema, the author didn't take the words out of context, she explains every detail thoroughly of the comment. Sure Ridwan Kamil is not perfect, but his caption talks about how his wife is beneath him, telling his readers that it's normal and natural for women to be one station below their husbands. So he didn't really do anything at all, he just reaffirms the status quo.

The only difference between a woman who is married to a husband who thinks she should be in the kitchen, and a woman married to one who thinks he must give permission to her, is how long their leashes are. She i

Gema | 17 Desember 2017 | 18:32:24 WIB
@Ardian the author DID take ridwan kamil's words out of context to fit her narration that ridwan kamil suppressed his wife, while the fact shows the opposite. He's telling he didn't holdback his wife, and supportive to her education. Since when needing your partner's permission put you beneath him/her? Even a good husband ask for permission from his wife to come home late. That doesn't put him beneath his wife, does it?
Helen | 17 Desember 2017 | 19:45:09 WIB
I don't understand, how is the writer taking his words out of context? The context is very clear, it's not some vague, open to interpretation statements. It's plain narcissism and sexism. And it's not nitpicking. For years now RK has been making sexist comments on the expense of his wife, as if she's some trophy wife who spends her husband's money for shopping -- he even called shoe store national library for women for crying out loud. RK has also mocked singles and transgender. And for someone who's spending too much time on social media, he's very thin-skinned.
Ardian | 18 Desember 2017 | 09:36:20 WIB
@Gema you should reading Helen's comment.. it's exactly right. RK has a bad history of always using his wife as a political tool, he says many sexist things... but even this caption is wrong, he talks about his wife like she is a toy or a child, not an adult. and the whole last paragraph, he talks about his rules and expectations for her... tell me how that is liberating for her?
Enny | 19 Desember 2017 | 18:26:19 WIB
Maaf ga ikutan in english comment boleh ya 😊😊. Dari pernyataan paling awal saja sudah tidak sepandangan, ms Theodora mengemukakan pendapat dr versi Katoliknya dia, dan menurut dia juga caption pak Ridwan berdasar versi Islam. 2 jalur KA ga akan bisa gabung kan? Mau dipaksa satuin juga malah tabrakan jadinya. Itu pertama. Apa dari sekian caption foto2 beliau ada lebih banyak mendeskreditkan kaum perempuan atau sebaliknya? IMO open letter semacam gini nih yg mancing2 issue2 lebih jauh.
Bunga | 19 Desember 2017 | 20:54:40 WIB
Enny, perlu dicatat bahwa versi Islam yang diyakini Ridwan Kamil bukanlah versi tunggal -- ada begitu banyak penafsiran dalam Islam, termasuk soal relasi antara suami dan istri. Tidak semua ulama berpendapat bahwa suami pemimpin bagi istri (maka suami berhak "mengizinkan", "menuntut" istri untuk begini-begitu). Penafsiran lain tentang kesetaraan gender dalam Islam diulas oleh Ibu Nina (anggota Komnas Perempuan dan dosen UIN Bandung) di ang-mendukung-kesetaraan-dan-keadilan-gender/ -- semoga Anda bisa menyempatkan membacanya.
Sasa | 20 Desember 2017 | 00:43:10 WIB
@bunga saya yakin bpk RK pun punya referensi atas sudut pandang dan keyakinan pribadi beliau.
rizal | 20 Desember 2017 | 06:41:47 WIB
Anda boleh merasa pendapat anda benar menurut anda, tapi janganlah kemudian memaksakan pendapat anda kepada orang lain, karena orang lain juga memiliki pandangan mereka sendiri yang mereka anggap benar.
zainuddin | 21 Desember 2017 | 02:23:25 WIB
Ini, kaya ngebahas fenomena skala partikel pake hukum fisika klasik. ya ga akan pernah nyambung.
pa RK itu sudut pandangnya islam , dibahasnya ga pake sudut pandang islam.
Helen | 21 Desember 2017 | 08:56:40 WIB
Pembelaan bahwa RK memakai sudut pandang Islam sama saja dengan mengamini bahwa dalam Islam, istri memang warga kelas dua yang harus selalu nunut sama suami, kayak apa pun suaminya Mengamini interpretasi2 yang menonjolkan superioritas laki2, seperti cerita yang selalu ditekankan guru-guru agama soal bagaimana seorang istri sampai tidak datang ke pemakaman ayahnya hanya karena suaminya sedang tidak ada alias gak ada izin. Sebetulnya poin-poin dalam Islam soal isu ini juga sama dengan yang dijelaskan oleh penulis. Abrahamic religions itu kan beda2 tipis interpretasi dan kultur patriarkalnya. Hari gini harus ada izin suami, didampingi muhrim, dll. Khadijah, Aisyah, Fatima, Rabi'ah dan perempuan-perempuan Muslim berdaya lainnya bisa nangis ngeliat umat Islam malah backward seperti sekarang.
mer | 26 Desember 2017 | 19:11:53 WIB
What a cool opinion ! , setuju banget dengan tulisan ini dan pas baca emang rasanya si Ridwal Kamil masih sangat pemegang kendali dan pamer .
But honestly at some point maybe i know the reason why he act like that, cukup maklum tapi juga ga bilang kalau dia bener banget juga.
Kita tinggal di negara dimana pemikirannya belum se-terbuka dan se-open itu dan se-setara itu. Dimana ga cuma wanita(walau lebih banyak wanita) tapi kadang laki-laki juga dikekang untuk tidak berkarya lebih , karena pandangan orang di Indonesia ketika berkeluarga maka orang ga akan bisa ngurus dan mengutamakan keluarga kalau sambil berkarya. Di pandangan masyarakat kita hanya ada pandangan ekstrim antara orang yang family atau hardworker, ga ada kombinasi anatara ke duanya.

So kesimpulannya : Yea im agree with you but at somepoint aku rasa tulisan ini terlalu keras dan ekstrim juga karena point of viewnya kurang luas dalam mengkritik
Fira | 31 Desember 2017 | 23:30:57 WIB
This article is well written and the author carefully tried to pick sentences that explains her opinions while also trying to understand RK's point of view. When I read the comment section, I also understand what they were defending. But maybe, a few of them are less careful in picking words. One of them is using the word "feminist" as something negative. We know there are a lot of feminists that are butt hurt, but you cannot just use that against us all when not all of us debate illogically. Another is the lack of understanding and borderline attacking this author for expressing her opinions from her point of view.

Fira | 31 Desember 2017 | 23:31:27 WIB
That aside, let us all just understand the opinion from both sides, because we can definitely agree to disagree. Although I was also upset when I first saw RK's post on Instagram, but we all must understand that maybe the intentions of RK were not in that way. And the ones defending RK, maybe we could all also understand that his choice of words, especially "mengizinkan" is not the appropriate word to use in this situation, especially if RK was trying to promote gender equality. It is true that using the word does not mean RK tried to "put women beneath him" because it's normal to ask permission of your partner before doing something. But in this case, he made it seem like it's more one-sided. Maybe that is why people criticised this part of the caption.

Cheers, x.
anon | 05 January 2018 | 00:19:31 WIB
nope, being feminist is more like role model, and is suck
ngapain bantuin cewe untuk bersinar? toh kalian juga gk mau bantuin cowo untuk bersinar juga

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