Sunday, October 25, 2009

Misconseption about Pornography

The new Anti-Pornography Law is making people paranoid! That's what I thought after reading the Readers' Letter Section of today's edition of The Jakarta Post.

The writer was a lady, Mayasari Oei, and her letter is titled: Live Porn aboard an Economy Train, in which she accused a woman of committing an act of Pornography, just because the latter breast-feed her baby right in front of several men while riding on a train in Jakarta.
The letter was immediately protested by 87 people who were angered by her remarks.

Please find the letter below. Happy reading.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 4:49 PM

Live porn aboard an economy train?
Tue, 10/20/2009 1:24 PM | City

One day last week I took the train, economy-class, from Sawah Besar in Central Jakarta to Depok in West Java. It was 11:30 a.m., the sun was beating down and it was hot, all the train passengers were sweating heavily in the airless carriage.

I was standing near two mothers sat with their babies aged about 12-18 months old, who were enjoying the breeze coming in through the carriage windows.

Twenty minutes went by, it was getting hotter, and one of the toddlers, looking tired, started crying. The wailing baby grasped her mother*s shirt and tugged, fussing and wriggling, throwing her body from right to left in her mother's arms. Maybe because of the hot weather, or due to hunger, or tiredness.

Standing around the mother were several male passengers. Endless minutes later, the howling baby was still struggling and grasping at her mother*s shirt. I watched the mother and child; the baby's anguish, the mother's anxiety and her countless efforts to console her baby, all to no avail. Passengers started to feel irritated by the wailing.

As the crying became even louder, the mother gave up and slowly opened her shirt a little and offered her breast to the baby. Within a half second, the baby stopped crying and looked content. That, then, was the reason she had been crying for more than 20 minutes. I couldn't ignore the temptation of watching them, so I continue to look, marveling at how the baby became so calm after getting what she wanted, and how the male passengers were enjoying looking at a woman with her breast showing. There were six men around her, and they were avidly watching the breast-feeding process.

As a woman, I felt embarrassed. Really. However, for me, this was not the first time, 10 years ago, when I used to take the train every day, I was always coming across similar situations to today's. How can a baby exploit their own mother*s privacy just to satisfy their hunger or thirst? Yes, I know, little babies have not learned yet how to be reasonable. They cry to get what they need. If, at the time, you had been in my position, I bet you wouldn*t have stopped looking at them either, just like the group of men, who all enjoyed free porn that hot day. You would not only have felt amused, but astonished, at the fact that little babies have such great power to control their mothers and get what they want.

After this baby had calmed down, the second baby, about the same age as the first, watching her little friend suckling her mother's breast, perhaps, felt envious. So this baby then began to wail, with the same volume as had the first. But this baby's mother was wearing Muslim attire, which meant according to Islamic law she ought not show any part of the body forbidden to be seen by the opposite sex (aurat) and it would have been very awkward for her if she had opened part of her clothing to feed her baby. Therefore, she did not, she ignored the baby*s tantrum, even when the baby began to pull at her mother*s shirt with all her strength. Fifteen minutes later, the baby was still screaming, but her mother still did not offer her her breast.

That baby must have been very puzzled, upset and then distraught at not getting what she wanted. Why could her little companion get her needs met so easily, and yet she just had to accept that her mother wouldn't fulfill her needs?

The train scene became an amazing drama, a live performance from the mothers and babies. The first mother gave in to her baby's demands, while the second mother decided not to show her breast in public.

What would I do if I had a baby forcing me to open my shirt in front of a hundred strangers on the train? Frankly speaking, I have no idea, but for mothers who have experienced this situation, they have only two choices: offer the breast and see their baby content, or refuse and ignore the baby*s tantrum.

Porn is one of the most popular issues in society, as every time porn appears on television, many people and organizations are ready to demonstrate, but do they even know what has been happening on the trains all these years?

I realize I haven't got concrete empirical research data yet on how many mothers have ever opened their blouses and revealed their breasts to men in order to fulfill their babies' needs. It would be funny, and controversial, if this was treated and legalized as normal - and not porn.

- Mayasari Oey


NatetheGrate said...

In the states, most people think your society is pretty strange about sex and the rights of women.

H. Nizam said...

First I would like to thank you for your visit.

Our culture has caused many people
in our part of the world to think about sex and rights of women differently from people living the the states.

Duckham said...

The fault was with the train. If trains had secluded areas where mothers could be separate and feed their babies there would be no problem. There are mothers in European societies who are not subject to any kind of Muslim style dress codes, and behaviour in male company, who feel uncomfortable breast feeding in public. There are leering men in these societies too. We need to provide protection to women and children, not as a religious requirement but as a matter of general consideration.

H. Nizam said...

I wish that we can have such train here, but unfortunately difficult at this moment to provide separate place. Considering the trains are not enough to carry passenegers.
In Jakarta, every morning lots of people ride on the roof of trains.
I agree that the separation should be based on general consideration, not religious.

colson said...

Well, I can hardly believe one should read the letter as a serious comment on a serious problem ( i.c breastfeeding in a public place).

In my opinion - in my perception I should write- it's rather a very ironic comment on those who are obsessed by sex. Looking at a mother breastfeeding her child = pornography? Come on, get real. It's just a hyperbole fitting the ironic style of the letter.

Not the ones who watched on the train, but the ones who pressed for the anti-pornography laws were the target of the author ( I guess/I sincerely hope).

H. Nizam said...

Your comment has made me read the letter once again, and realized that you may have been right. The real target of the writer may have been those who are pushing for the anti-pornography law. Thanks.

Rob Baiton said...


As a matter of law, all women are required to breast feed their babies (assuming that they are physically able).

The law also requires that office's / companies provide "facilities" so that women can comply with this obligation to breast feed (I have written on this a number of time for hukumonline clients, and once on the blog, I think).

So, why shouldn't PT KA provide similar facilities for users of its system? I believe they must provide those facilities no matter what the cost or the inconvenience :D

Although, I suspect that this might degenerate into a debate about women's only carriages.

For the purposes of comparison; Senayan City and Grand Indonesia.

In Senayan City the baby change room is a small room with some changing space and a couple of rocking chairs for women who want or need to breast feed. It was always interesting to walk in their when I needed to change young Will and women were breast feeding. It was never a problem though.

In contrast, Grand Indonesia has baby change rooms that have a couple of reasonably sized cubicles that are curtained off and for one woman / family at a time. This takes away the uncomfortable factor of sitting amongst strangers with your breasts out.

Breast feeding a baby is hardly porn. Some fellas will never be able to help themselves; when they see some breast flesh they just have to look (perve).

It would seem like there is a need for some consideration of how best to address the issue of breast feeding.

H. Nizam said...

Thank you for reminding about the legal rights of breast feeding women, and privileges given by top class shopping malls in Jakarta.
I've seen nursing rooms at PIM1&2, Klp Gading Mall3.
How about at medium class shopping places in Senen, Jatinegara, Grogol, etc.? do they have them?
(must check them first).
What I'm saying is that not all trains can provide special rooms.
As I've said to Duckham, they are already heavily over loaded with passengers, especially during rush hours.
Due to these facts I agree with the writer's suggestion on the comment section, that the breast feeding women wear special 'selendang/cloth' which would enable them to breast feed in public without showing their breast.

Joni Arief said...


From the words in her letter and her reply to comments I think the writer knew that breast feeding in public cannot be considered as porn. I think that she was actually questioning the logic of the anti-porn law that forbid showing private parts in public.

So it's not about the train, or malls

H. Nizam said...

I hope that it's like that.

Marketing Unscrambled, learn to earn 14 said...

It looks like people all over the world have the same problem. Laws get passed that harm those that it was not intended to harm. Breast feeding is not porn. Good luck to you with this kind of thing. The USA is just as bad with some of the things that they try to pass. Good luck with the laws their.

Thank you for becoming our friend. Have a great day. We will do the same. It is interesting to see how things are done in your part of the world. We will keep reading.

Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

H. Nizam said...

Marketing Scrambled,
Yes this weird perception are every where, all of which are based on laws made by few people who sees things from a narrow way.