The presentation given last Wednesday Forum held on February 24, 2010 was presented by Mita Chandria, an ICRS-Yogya student, and the moderator was Mega Hidayati, who is also an ICRS-Yogya student. Mita presented the three novels written by two writers entitled “Women Literature, Sexuality and Religiosity.” She perceived that contemporary female writers Ayu Utami and Dee (Dewi Lestari) have ignited pros and contras among Indonesian literary critics because they have openly discussed (female) sexuality in their novels. Focusing on their discussion of sexuality has made the people neglect the religious sides of the novels. While it is true that their novels are rich in sexual metaphors, Ayu’s Saman and Bilangan fu, and Dee’s Supernova are full of religious sentiments and criticisms.
Her presentation was an attempt to reveal the religious sides of Saman, Bilangan fu, and Supernova. Religion has been fully occupied with formality and hypocrisy, and has neglected moral and humanitarian values. Instead of liberating, religion has intimidated its followers with the doctrine of right and wrong, of heaven and hell. Religion’s truth claims divide human beings into the in-group (the faithful, the saved) and the out-group (the condemned, the sinful). Meanwhile, an urgent question regarding religion is needed to be addressed, like the question of what is religion’s contribution to mankind is left unanswered.
Poverty, injustices, environmental destruction and gender inequality are real challenges for religion that need to be tackled. In their literary works, these two women criticize not only the discussion of sexuality but also the discussion of the narrow-minded adherents in seeing religion and daily politics.
During the open forum, many questions, inputs and criticisms were addressed to her from different scholars, for instance Mbak Jim, a post-graduate student from CRCS, asked why Mita chose Non-Muslim writers only, not from a Muslim in seeing sexuality also. While Madyan, an ICRS-Yogya student, asked how Mitha framed her literary study in order not to broaden her study in seeing sexuality and religiosity, and what kind of feminism did she use to explain the phenomena of sexuality and religiosity that was written by Indonesian female writers. Some audiences, like Pak Djoko, also an ICRS-Yogya student, and Amber, a language teacher from ICRS, criticize Mita’s conception about religiosity, sexuality, vulgarism, sensuality that is still obscure which needs to be elucidated.
The open forum was divided in three rounds and received many inputs and questions. As usual, the interesting presentation ended at 2:30 in the afternoon.
Besides a student at ICRS, Mita Chandria also works for several researches such as “Poetic Analysis on Mustofa Bisri,”? the “Relevant Theoretical Account of Parallelism on Mustofa Bisri’s Poems” and many other work with regard to Mustofa Bisri’s works. Her presentation is a part of her preliminary PhD dissertation that she will develop in the future.
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