Bahan, a Fabric of Women

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Indonesian word bahan is literally a fabric, or in culinary case it`s ingredient. Nothing else. Bahan is easily forgotten as its usage is simply ordinary, Indonesian people mention it every day. Saying the word just seems like doing daily house chores, anything special? Not at all.

However, I found the word bahan throughout its particular understanding beneath the surface; related to women. The idea popped out when I attended a workshop named Kata Untuk Perempuan (words for women), created by Ika Vantiani – a notable Indonesian collage artist. Not only that I embodied the process of creating a collage art, but Vantiani encouraged to express our mind to decide one word that we thought best represented a woman. Bahan was then my chosen distinctive expression.

A glimpse decision to have the word, as well as a blast of composing roots of the reason. I analysed Bahan possesses two sides treated as being active and passive. Active as the word is often utilised as social weapons and passive as a women could be the weapon`s target.

Actively, women love to seek bahan omongan or any topics to talk in amongst; whether they discuss about facts, rumours or even make up stories based on subjective research. It`s nothing but madness when women gather and gossip, the world contains millions of stories that are wrapped in a 3-hour cafe hanging out.

As bahan omongan occurs only when women meet each other or do phone talk, the 2nd active root reason is bahan perbandingan; women are hungry for comparison! From branded stuffs to body size, they`re just crazy about what other women have, buy, do and even whom they get married to. Everything is about who are in lower and higher social status.

Perhaps because karma happens, then women can`t run from a truth that they`re also in passive position. Victims of social opinion and nature of this life. Women can be bahan evaluasi genetika or objects of genetics evaluation. It`s quite often to hear comments like “Hey, their daughter looks ugly, I think her mom isn`t pretty” or “Have you heard that their son isn`t accepted in reputable university? Well now you know his mom`s brain quality. She isn`t intelligent at all.” It`s not my expertise to discuss from biological theory, but some social conditions are indeed pressurised.

The other passive root reason is because women are always be bahan komentar, or objects to be commented. It`s closely related with bahan perbandingan but here it`s not a portion to talk as they`re the guilty ones. Let`s say that they`re still looking for Mr.Right, which lead them to date different guys in certain time. The whole world tends to judge them negatively and might be obstacles to be accepted by their future husband`s family. In reverse, men with thousands dating portfolio are most likely able to keep positive image on the frame. Maybe it doesn`t look fair, or maybe it`s just the way it is for women.

Women`s life beneath upper layer is a crustal pie of nature, or it might be shaped from designated social architecture. No one knows exactly. Because life and women aren`t mathematics formula.

Anisa Kirana | 2016


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