In your book The Single Parasite (2003) you wrote that you would not get married. But in The Confessions of A (2013) you wrote about your marriage. That seems
My statement that I didn't (don’t) want to get married was (and is) a statement that: 1) everybody is entitled not to get married. (In Indonesia there is social/cultural pressure for people to marry). 2) The Indonesian marriage
law is not just, because it automatically designates the husband as the head of the family. As for who is the head of the family, or whether a head of a family is even necessary, let that be the choice of the respective individuals. Let it be a private matter.
Don’t make it a state affair. The rule we have now is not just. In practice, there are so many women who become the breadwinners of their families and they are not acknowledged, well treated, or appreciated as they should be.
I got married later,
but not under civil law. I was married in the Catholic church, and I still do not want to record my marriage in the civil registry office. I think I continue to be consistent in voicing my opinion that the Indonesian marriage law is still unfair.
But why do you think you should get married, even though “only” in the church?
I’ve written my reasons in The Confessions of A. The book states my true feelings. But apparently it’s difficult for many
people who don’t know anything about Catholicism to understand it. There are readers who felt betrayed and didn't want to read my books anymore.
1) It’s not love that motivated me to get married. I love my life partner, but I can love him
without the ceremony of marriage. We had been living together for ten years and we had already agreed on a division of land and wealth. Truly, it wasn’t love that prompted me to go through the formality of marrying him.
2) I got married because
I wanted to express solidarity with the Indonesian Catholic communities that were under pressure. In several localities, it has been years since they’ve been allowed to build churches. A number of existing churches and schools were attacked. There was
a hospital that was not allowed to construct new facilities. I came from the Catholic community, even though I had left the church years before. I left the church because I had another agenda related to gender issues: i.e., encouraging women not to be afraid
of being unmarried. That would mean that I lived in fornication--a word that people in the West have forgotten. The “punishment” for an adulterer in the Catholic church is only that he or she cannot receive the host, the consecrated wafer they
distribute in mass. The church considers that ritual sacred. I respect that law.
The problem was, later on I wanted to express my solidarity with the discriminated minority that I came from. How? The only way was by enabling myself to receive the host
again in a mass. That meant I had to have a Catholic wedding. I realized that I didn’t have any objection to Catholic marriage, since the canon doesn’t say that the husband is the head of the family.
That is the simple reason why I finally
got married. I gave a more elaborate explanation to the priest who questioned me. (In the Catholic church, the priest has to verbally question the bride and groom.)
I think I’m still consistent in criticizing the Indonesian marriage law, which
remains patriarchal. And, even though I am married now, I never say that I am better off than before.
Do you think that to struggle for equality in marriage we have to go through a wedding ceremony?
This certainly is not the
only way. Different people take different paths. What I am doing is an effort to relieve or to obviate fear inflicted by social norms and pressures. I have thought about a judicial review of the marriage law too, but that may be counterproductive.