Published: Jul 30, 2007


Gerry van Klinken

As anti-Gus Dur demos began to hit the streets in January, I wondered if we were missing the real action by doing a gender edition. But working on it became an eye-opener for me, as I hope reading it will be for you.

I realised I had often imagined an 'Indonesian' agenda for change that was in fact a middle class masculine one. Susan Blackburn's piece showed me that even nationalism, supposedly that most basic of all political drives, was historically of more interest to men than to women - who really wanted a marriage law to protect their everyday lives.

Could it be that the 'get rid of Gus Dur' agenda is also a partial one, that actually hides other, bigger agendas?

This edition highlights Indonesia's women and men - and its gays, lesbians, bissu and other genders. Their diversity should warn us against stereotypes, if nothing else. Our authors - mostly women - have many messages. The one I hear loudly is that women, and powerless genders generally, no longer want to be a passive part of somebody else's project, no matter how grand or blessed by tradition that seems to be.

Gender justice is a crucial perspective because it has the potential to transform the political arena. Excluding powerless genders only produces a false consensus dark with hidden violence. Khofifah, the energetic young minister for women's empowerment, has it right: 'I want women to be the motor of democratisation.'

Most readers do not realise how much work goes into producing one edition of a little magazine like this. The bulk of it was done voluntarily - for example by the anonymous referees who now read all articles before they are accepted. To them all we say: thanks!

Gerry van Klinken is the editor of Inside Indonesia

Inside Indonesia 66: Apr - Jun 2001