On this International Women’s Day, I wanna thank one person for making me who I am now: my father.

I hear and read words, comments, social media posts about how women should behave, should act, about devilish and scary career-women or useless stay-at-home ones.

But what my father has been teaching me all this time is how to be a badass woman and how a great man should act.

I always remember what he said when I was still very young, that because I am a woman, I will usually have a weaker body compared to a man so that I have no other option than to be smart.

He always put my education first. I was not allowed to skip classes as far as I could. Although he was busy working, he managed to help me with my homework (he was pretty cool at social science!) when my mother could not, turned the television off when my study time came. He even took a leave and accompanied me during my first day at college, telling me to never be intimidated by and get scared of my seniors because they were actually not always that cool and smart. Hahahaha.

Coming from a farmer family in a small village in East Bali, it is a big pride for my father to be able to finish college and work as a law enforcer. Given the background, he once told me that if he could get his bachelor degree, then I should get at least a master or I should be ashamed of myself.

He encourages me to pursue higher education, so how could strangers tell me the otherwise?

My father told me that a woman had to be independent despite her marital status. A woman must empower herself, building her career if she works and continuing to enrich her knowledge while taking the best care of her family if she stays at home.

A woman should not be powerless so why should I buy the otherwise?

My father is also a kind of man who happily does domestic works.

When I was in school, I often found my father and mother, who is a stay-at-home mom, washed our clothes together at five in the morning. He sets a rule at home that everyone must wash their own dishes after using them and he never leaves his dirty dishes at the kitchen sink.

He also cooks. Sometimes he does not allow my mother to help, partly because he thinks he cooks some food better than her. Hahaha. But he does! And my mother is happy too because she can take some time to relax or do other things.

My father shows me that men and women can share duties. So, why do I let strangers tell me the otherwise?

My father listens to what I say, encourages me to speak my mind up, to be logical, to be critical, to be brave and aiming high. Why should I do the otherwise?

I know my father is my privilege, especially in this situation when several men see women as nothing but complementary objects. Yes, I use the word “object” because I lose count of how many times we are compared to candies, fruits or any other goods for no good.

My father has set the bar high and I have no plan to lower it.

So, happy International Women’s Day! May we all be braver, stronger, tougher and happier in everything we do. Everything.

Jakarta
March 8, 2017.

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