Let Me See Your O-Face
If you were the victim of an impossibly large and deeply-ingrained social injustice, what would you do about it? Would you just go with the flow and accept the cards you’ve been dealt, or would you do everything in your power to liberate yourself and those similar to you through education and encouragement?
Sadly, millions of people across the world today are victims of some sort of social prejudice, whether based on orientation, skin color, nationality, native tongue, or even something as basic as sex. Though it’s lovely to think that men and women are equal in many of today’s most developed countries, that simply isn’t the case.
For Indonesian campaigner and activist Firliana Purwanti, this inequality hits especially close to home. Indonesia is the fourth most populous country on the planet, and it’s also the country with the world’s largest Muslim population. Growing increasingly conservative, the issue of sexuality has become more of a taboo, and the role of women has become more restricted. On the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Gender Gap Index, Indonesia ranked 92nd out of 145 countries for female economic participation and opportunity.
To combat the limited equality of women, Purwanti is taking an unconventional approach that she hopes will empower women first and foremost at home to better prepare them to take on the outside world.
Her plan? She wants women to make sex about them and take back the bedroom.
She’s empowering women one O-face at a time.
Women in Indonesia
While not as conservative as other Muslim countries, Indonesia still does not provide women the protection and opportunity that other comparable democracies do.
Most notably, Indonesian society has an unhealthy obsession with female virginity. Sadly, female genital mutilation is still prevalent and “morally recommended” in the island nation. In 2015, research conducted by the Population Council Jakarta found that 97.5% of females from Muslim families are cut or otherwise mutilated by age 18. The government’s policy on the heavily-debated procedure remains contradictory; although it was technically outlawed in 2006, the Indonesian Health Ministry has since released papers describing the proper way to perform FGM.
Perhaps equally as terrifying as FGM is the prevalence of so-called “virginity tests” in Indonesia. Although the World Health Organization has said, “There is no place for virginity testing; it has no scientific validity,” the “two-finger” test is still mandatory for female military and national police recruits in the country; many of these women are between the ages of 18 and 20.
Based in disturbing sexism and dangerous pseudoscience, the virginity test consists of a female recruit having two fingers inserted into her vagina to test the size and strength of the hymen—a misunderstood piece of anatomy—as well as a finger placed in the anus. The test is also administered to future wives of military personnel. According to Major General Fuad Basya, this virginity test is crucial to national security: “If it is not restricted this way, then someone with a bad habit [of regular intercourse] will become military personnel. Soldiers are a nation’s defenders. They defend a nation’s sovereignty, a country’s territory and security.”
In 2015, a city council in East Java proposed (and later reneged) that virginity tests should become an obligatory factor in permitting a girl’s graduation from high school.
Truly, the situation is frightening, and that’s exactly why Firliana Purwanti wants women to take more control in their sex lives.