It was Peranakan who started it.



Dear friends,

do you know that most women’s writings remain in silence? Indonesia is one of the countries where women writers can hardly express their voice. Like in many other cases, Indonesian literature has been dominated by male writers. Before the fall of the late General Soeharto in 1998, the history recorded women writers struggled to share the space in public sphere.

I found a valuable journal (to me) revealed that the first women who challenged the mainstream male’s hegemony in media were: Indonesian Chinese women. Chinese came to Indonesia as emigrants. They married local people and learned their husband’s languages, gave birth to Chinese descent. They are what we know today as ‘peranakan’.

From these peranakan, the first Indonesian writings were born. These writings started in 1880s in the form of poems and later on of novels in 1940s.

None of these women dared to sign with their original name, yet worked under various aliases: Nona Boedjang (Spinster), Nona Botoh (Beautiful Girl), Nona Manis (Charming Girl), and Nona Glatik (Sparrow-girl), or their initials like K.P. Nio and L.S. Nio.

The first known woman writer, Tan Tjeng Nio, was from Bogor, West Java. She authored her poem, which published in 1897 and was reprinted at least four times (WOW!). Her poem’s title reads: Sair tiga sobat nona boedjang di eret oleh Babapranakkan Tangerang, or “Poem about Three Women-friends of whom One was Seduced by an Indonesian-born Chinese of Tangerang”.

What I wrote above is just the beginning. Later, Indonesian Chinese women writers dared to question their marginalized position as, of course, Indonesian women. You’d better read this article yourself. It is so interesting and shocking. But, this partly answered my question: “Why Marga T?”🙂

And, you’d better keep writing your blog, Ladies!

Have a good night!

Source (including the picture):
Salmon, C. (1985). Chinese women Writers in Indonesia and Their Views of Female Emancipation. In A. G. e. al (Ed.), Women and Literature in China (pp. 475-518). Bochum: Brockmeyer.

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