A leading Indonesia business magazine celebrated the success of Indonesia’s most powerful women with a conference and award ceremony Tuesday. It seemed to stumble badly in its message about female leaders, though, as advertisements for the event suggested leadership was about rising “From the Bedroom to the Boardroom.” The catchphrase might have been forgivable in the middle of a Cosmopolitan magazine article, but it was hardly an appropriate theme, some women’s advocates said, for the event hosted by business magazine GlobeAsia that included many of Indonesia’s top female executives and government officials. Among those who spoke was Linda Gumelar, minister of women empowerment and child protection.
Bright purple ads for the event featured the profile of a model-thin woman in a short skirt and high heels clutching a handbag and called the focus of the all-day forum “From the Bedroom to the Boardroom: The Rise of Women Leaders in Asia.” But the advertisement was designed to spark debate, said Shoeb Kagda, editor of GlobeAsia. Anyone who attended the event saw firsthand it was about respecting and empowering women, he said. “The title is a little bit provocative, but it was meant to be that way,” he said. “We haven’t received any complaints.” Indeed, the bedroom was not mentioned in any of the scheduled discussions for the day, including such topics as Women at Work: The Great Juggling Act, Working Couples and Women in a Men’s World. The provocative part of the ad was “ironic and completely wrong,” said Mariana Amiruddin, executive director of Woman Journal Foundation, a nongovernment organization that focuses on women’s issues. “It’s part of patriarchal culture and injustice against women to think you have to refer to sex and women’s bodies to make them more appealing.” Advocates working to change gender perceptions in Southeast Asia face an uphill battle. In September, comments by Jakarta Gov. Fauzi Bowo that women should not wear revealing clothes to avoid being raped or victimized drew protests in Indonesia’s capital city, where he was accused of placing the blame for rape on women. Mr. Bowo later said his comments were misinterpreted.
In Singapore, organizers of SlutWalk Singapore, a gathering inspired by the global movement, faced a slew of online abuse and what they regarded as unflattering media coverage in the run-up to their December event, which drew more than 600 participants. Meanwhile, the Malaysian-based Obedient Wives Club, a pro-polygamy Islamic group which recently launched a sex guide to help Muslim brides satisfy their husbands in bed, has also raised more than a few eyebrows. The Singapore branch of the group recently won a tongue-in-cheek award given out by the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) for the most chauvinistic advertisement or policy for promoting the view that wives should keep their husbands happy in the bedroom by serving them like “a first-class prostitute.”
Aerosmith – Walk This Way