everyday's tidbits

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Girls can do nothing

I took this public transport from Bundaran, which is near the magazine stands. I looked for PCPlus computer tabloid, but it wasn’t delivered yet, so I bought Komputek instead. Unlike several years ago, when money were easier to get and things were a lot cheaper, now I only buy computer magazines and tabloids when they contain something interesting and useful. I put the Komputek in the black plastic handbag, and brought it with me. I sat in front, and waited until the car was filled. A woman, 40-something, with clothes like those fish retailers in the traditional market, sat next to me. She smiled at me, and then looked at the visible end of the Komputek tabloid in the plastic handbag (only the “Kom” is visible). She suddely called out to someone outside:
Woman: “Bah, bah, tukarkan Komputek lah kena bulikan.”
Man: “Belum keluar lagi kalo hari ini.”
Woman: (looks at me) “Itu Komputek kalo?”
Me: “Hm-mh.”
Woman: “Dimana tadi nukarnya?”
Me: “Di wadah yang paling ujung.”
Woman: (called out again) “Sudah keluar Bah ai, di yang di ujung tuh.”
Man: “Hi-ih, kena menukarakan.”

I was impressed.

(Free translation:
Woman: (to her husband) “Buy me Komputek when you get back, ok?”
Man: “Not delivered yet.”
Woman: (looks at me) “That’s Komputek, right?”
Me: “Hm-mh.”
Woman: “Where did you buy that?”
Me: “At that farthest stall.”
Woman: (calls out again) “It’s already delivered, you can find it in that farthest stall.”
Man: “Ok, I will buy it for you.”)

I was soooooo impressed of this conversation, and I still smiled until Km 6 bus terminal. I mean, this woman, the one who I think was archaic, traditional, have-no-time-and-interest-to-read-anything-let-alone-read-computer-tabloid woman, read the same computer articles like me! I think I thought too high of myself. I thought I was the only girl who read Komputek in 3 kms radius around me (this is Banjarmasin, and maybe this is true), and then, right next to me, a woman old enough to be my mother, read the same thing. I think I have to readjust my mind. Don’t get me wrong. As a female, I am very proud. What I am concerned about is that I have this mainstream opinion about females, an opinion that have been fertilized since we were kids by the boys-girls division of toys (boys plays with small motor vehicles, girls with dolls and fake kitchen utensils), boys-girls division of job choices (boys get the managerial jobs, girls get the secretarial jobs), boys-girls division of education choices (most boys go to Faculty of Engineering, most girls go to Faculty of Education). Culture, and religion, also oblige boys/men to be leaders, while girls/women are followers. Boys/men deal with electric, machines, repair, and things outside the house; while girls/women deal with domestic things, except electric and repairs. Have you seen the car commercials (or something, I don’t remember) about “It’s A Boy Thing”? Bah!

I remember when I shopped for some computer accessories in some computer fair in a city where men and women usually are considered equal, even in those things above. You only buy hardwares after you compare several brands, bearing in mind about the specs, the stability, the price, the competitors. So, that’s what I asked the male customer service, who answered me ignorantly, and sometimes rolled his eyes. It’s very different when a boy came up and asked stupid things, they answered it like they answer the President himself.

And it was worse when the customer service are girls. It was when I asked about cable and satellite television services. They had no knowledge about the things they sold, and when I asked (happily, because I expected girls would answer you nicer and expected them to understand what they represent) about basic things you would ask when you want to subscribe to the service, they looked at me sourly and didn’t answer at all, or gave some vague lines that answered nothing, while pointed their cute fingers to the pamphlets (the cable television customer service even had no pamphlets, nor the list of the TV channels). I had suspicion that it was these kinds of girls who made us females were looked down by our male counterparts. If you were asked to do something, a customer service, for example, you would do some simple research like some basic things about cable television service, what are the packages, the area of coverage, the TV channels, the TV guides, the payment (turns out this is the only thing the girls understand very much), how many TVs that can access the service, is it parallel, etc; so that your prospective subscriber would be interested.

A lot of boys supporting girls to be equal. I remember, there is this only place comfortable for asking things about computer, which is in a place near my rented house in Jogja. It’s a computer service, a very small one, with huge fans, especially girls. Well, aside from the fact that the boys work there are mostly young and gorgeous (Bandung boys, dialeknya itu oi!) ihihihihik… they have respect of their customers, boys and girls alike. You can ask stupidest things to them, and they will answer you from basic to advanced, without getting that rolled-up eyes thingie. They also sell things cheaper. And they will help you fix-your-computer-yourself through sms, free of charge; a very good support for computer education. They gave you bonus in the form of mp3s in genre of music they found in your PCs. And they send their loyal customers “Ucapan Selamat Hari Raya”. A good marketing. Miss them.

There has been commotion also about there were not enough women represented in the Parliament. But when the opportunity were given, the number of women actually interested in politics are too small. I am sure this is not because the women are not as smart as the men. This is because the cultural brainwash has gone too deep.

So, girls, it is up to us to change the stigma. Search for information, study, read books, and try to do things yourself. Trial and error is not a bad thing. I dare you.




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