Happy fasting everyone! It’s the twelfth day of Ramadhan and the twelfth day of fasting for us Muslims. But let’s don’t make fasting become a reason for us not to think critically. Before I studied about gender representation in media, I probably won’t be able to say this. I dare to say that during Ramadhan various forms of media (from advertising to news) perpetuate the ideology of women as housekeeper ideology resembling the ideology of women as mother as instilled by Indonesian government during Soeharto era.
Try to look at television commercials during sahur (eating before dawn arrives marking the start of fasting) or buka (eating after the sun sets to break the fast). Count how many television commercial that depicts a beautiful-slim-long-haired women who is cooking, preparing meals, washing dishes etc. While their children both girls and boys only wait for their mother. The father surely does not take this domestic issue as he is the breadwinner. Father figure in some advertisements are depicted either in their workplace, in the cars (on the way to home) or just in the dining room waiting for his wife to "serve" him. These ads seem like perpetuating the idea that these domestic duties solely belong to women.
Television news also does the same. In Ramadhan, there are various stories about sahur and buka. I once watched a news presentation that narrated the following story:
“as the young boys patrolled around the complex to wake people up for sahur, the mothers have duties to serve and prepare meals for sahur” (in a national television channel started with “T” guess what?)
My gender awareness sensor tickles me when I heard this sentence. The sentence shows gender stereotype, by arranging the binary position of the “duty” of boys (hence, it refers to male) and women. Boys have duties in public area while women have duties in domestic area. The husbands may just need to be tended and relaxed at home waiting for their wives to wake them up.
I admit that probably women “have duties” to cook. They really have the skills to cook. But does it make other duties like washing dishes after eating, helping preparing meals "consequently and naturally" belong to them? Well, from what I can say, men can also do it. Try simplest thing, wash your own dishes after having your meal. Let’s lessen the “considered-to-be-natural” burden of our mother, sister or wife. It does need to be feminist to do these household chores =) It only needs your awareness so that you are not consumed by gender bias ideology as perpetuated by media.