November, 26 2015
A Call for War Against Close-Mindedness

"We only die when our opinions are dictated by others - for in our ideas we exist." A reminder to keep our mind open and to unite in fight against gender biases.

by Kenrick Dennis
Issues // Gender and Sexuality
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I came across a section of Musdah Mulia’s interview on Mata Najwa on YouTube and it was then I realize how oblivious I had been to the many existing issues (religious extremism, gender inequality, racial bias and prejudice etc.) that Indonesia as a country faces.
 
Many see, feel, and/or experience these situations first-hand. Some assume a stance against the unjust, some rebel futilely in their solitude. some are voiceless, and, yet, some remain unheard. I share and feel the hardship of many fellow Indonesians who know it is time to better our nation, but otherwise still doubt their own voice. Perhaps it is time for our voices to resonate across the nation, to unite and to inflict upon a change, a change we all yearn to see.
 
Musdah’s opposition to one of Indonesian’s constitutions to protect religions (specifically Islam) from contemporary interpretations receives negative remarks from most who are aware of her approach. Some claim she preaches heresy, while others strongly feel she should be stripped off of her Ph.D. in Islamic studies, as her opinions are “misleading”. I am writing not to justify her reasons (for this purpose I shall remain neutral with regards to her ideas), but rather to invite Indonesian youths to refrain from having preconceptions on alien ideas. Something needs not be right to be valued.
 
I implore us all to consider the need to evaluate and reflect upon information received from any source, keeping a certain degree of open-mindedness as we do so. Do not stick to old values just because they have always been there. We fear change, always have, always will. However, be willing to welcome it, because it is inevitable. Fear not, your opinions cannot be wrong, nothing is wrong, and by extension, nothing is universally right. The sum of “1+1” so far is 2 because we have yet proven such statement is wrong. We are here because we have eluded death hitherto, and we only die when our opinions are dictated by others – for in our ideas we exist.
 
I identify myself as male, and I am a classical music enthusiast. The latter is apparently an unmanly pursuit, I was told by a female friend of mine. I find this perplexing and rather contradictory, as she is a self-proclaimed “feminist”. The word “unmanly” can be offensive without the appropriate parameters – I will let you decide why this is so.
 


To say something is unmanly is to demote the feminine gender. I am NOT proposing the idea of sameness between males and females, because both genders in fact are not and will never be the same, which is why humans are naturally classified – although not restricted to only males and females. The idea is, therefore, what one gender can do through thought-out actions, the counterpart can do with same ease (thus discounting innate biological limitations that set both genders apart).
 
I have limited anecdotes of the sufferings that follow a person identified as female, but I certainly am aware of such reports. Regretfully, I do not have in my disposal the solution to solve this issue. I suppose if there is a way at all, it would be to start from yourself and let your thoughts permeate through actions and influence others.
 
I long for the day when gender biases do not exist and can only hope I do not stand alone on this side of the corner. This is a war of global scale, a war in which weapons are obsolete, a war between ignorance and awareness, a war affecting mostly the females, and ultimately, a war in which we have to face our worst enemy: ourselves.  
 
Words are the intermediary tool that I have confidence in. However, the effects of words are powerless and are battled easily with illiteracy and indifference. In a blink of an eye, words are missed or maybe read and forgotten.
 
I then believe in the collective determination in shaping our lives, to have a say in the community we live in, to be heard, seen, and responded equally. I also realize my limitations as a person but do not shy away from them; I embrace and recognize them. I cannot do this alone for this is a war bigger than myself. I readied myself to the field, only to realize I am outnumbered.
 
This writing is a call for those whose ambition is mine, and mine yours, that is to create a better Indonesia. I invite you to ready yourself, and meet me where I am now. Perhaps then we will see the day we have always dreamed of, when we can finally witness a better Indonesia.

Kenrick Dennis was born in Medan in 1996 and he is currently studying biochemistry in London.