Sexual Transgression
in the Autobiographies of Two Indonesian Women

Soe Tjen Marching

  1. Among most scholars of Indonesian studies, it has widely been known that female sexuality was one among many desires which became the focus of restriction in New Order Indonesia.[1] Sylvia Tiwon, for instance, suggests that during the New Order, Indonesians distinguished between two types of woman: the model and the maniac. The model is the one who can control her desire and passion, who waits for her promised spouse, who can be a good wife and mother. The maniac, on the other hand, is the one who speaks out loud and shows sexual passion.[2] According to this view, it is considered degrading for Indonesian women to have a relationship outside of the sphere of monogamy.[3] Indonesian women who show passion for more than one man at the same time will make people question their decency and purity.
  2. The expectation that Indonesian autobiographies should present ‘real’ as well as exemplary characters means that the female subject of an autobiography needs to take into account certain stereotypes or social restrictions. While western theories of autobiography often blur the distinction between fact and fiction, in modern Indonesia, an autobiography is usually considered to represent history or factual events. As Susan Rodgers explains, in Indonesian and Malay thought, ‘biography and history necessarily intersect.’[4] Moreover, the nature of the mainstream autobiography in Indonesia demands that the subject be an exemplary model for the public as well as the nation. C.W. Watson elaborates upon this point:

      the agenda of scholarship on twentieth-century Indonesian history still appears to be written in accordance with the demands of the paradigm of triumphant nationalism; and the significance of personal accounts, biographies, and autobiographies lies in their contribution to the accepted myth of the nation.[5]

    Thus, Indonesian autobiographies often function as records of individuals who can be role-models for future generations.
  3. As Indonesian patriots who took part in the Indonesian struggle for independence, Herlina and Inggit Garnasih are the ‘typical’ subjects of Indonesian autobiographies published in the New Order; both are considered to be exemplary nationalists and model citizens, having received awards from the Indonesian governments for their dedication to the country. Nevertheless, among the autobiographies published during the New Order period in Indonesia, Herlina’s and Inggit Garnasih’s autobiographies also diverge from other Indonesian autobiographies, especially in relation to their respective portrayals of sexuality. What are their differences, how do these women express their transgressions and how could such transgressions be accepted in an era which was full of sexual restrictions towards women? These are the questions which will be addressed in this paper.

    Indonesian (women’s) autobiographies: historical background
  4. The genre of autobiography is comparatively new to Indonesia. As Benedict Anderson explains, amongst traditional Indonesians the consciousness of a self is related to the cosmic view of nature. Such a view hardly allows significance to individual experience.[6] For this reason, while Western civilisation has long been accustomed to individual life-stories, this genre has not been traditionally popular in Indonesia.
  5. In the archipelago’s past, literary works were often characterised by the hesitancy of the author to insist on his/her individual existence. In Java, for instance, life stories of important people such as kings can be found in Babad. Babads do not usually narrate the story of an individual king but rather the genealogy of the kingdom. The texts function as legends for the kingdom. Promoting the potency of the kings, Babads were written as models and examples for future generations.[7]
  6. Resemblance to Western autobiographical writings is more apparent in a later Indonesian life story by an Indonesian nationalist, R. Soetomo, entitled Kenang-Kenangan [Memoirs]. Published in 1934, the text is considered to be the first modern autobiography written by a prominent Indonesian[8] because of Soetomo’s description of himself using the first person pronoun.
  7. Despite this, Soetomo’s autobiography is still traditional in many ways, as is shown by his adaptation of Javanese values. Indeed, while Soetomo’s autobiography uses the first person, the hesitancy of writing an individual self is still apparent, since he narrates his life story through the stories of people around him such as his wife, his parents and even his ancestors. His text also produces the impression that the author believes himself to be writing an exemplary life story which will be inherited by the next generation, as is the intention in Babad. Benedict Anderson states: ‘a warisan [an inheritance] is really what ‘Memories’ [Kenang-Kenangan] represents’.[9]
  8. Hesitance in emphasising individuality is also found in another well-known autobiography by the first President, independence proclamator as well as one of the founders of Indonesia, Soekarno: An Autobiography.[10] Although known by some as an arrogant man who often stressed his prominence, Soekarno expressed uneasiness in writing his own life story. In the introduction to his autobiography, Soekarno reports to Cindy Adams: ‘I have an ego. I admit it.’[11] Despite this, he felt unable to write about himself: ‘As usual, whenever anyone mentioned an autobiography, I answered, ‘Absolutely not … I have always refused this because I am convinced the balance of life of man [sic] can only be made after death.’[12] Despite the fact that Soekarno had written many books, he asked another person, Cindy Adams, to ghost write his autobiography.
  9. Some Indonesian life stories are narrated by the subject, after having been interviewed by the ghost-writer, or after his/her story having been tape-recorded and tidied up by the ghost-writer. These texts are usually regarded as and called 'autobiographies.' One of the most famous examples is Soekarno's autobiography 'as told to Cindy Adams'—these are the words used in both the English and Indonesian versions. Like Soekarno’s autobiography, some other Indonesian autobiographies indicate the subjects’ hesitancy to write about themselves as these texts have ghost-writers. For instance, the autobiography of Ahmad Subardjo Djoyoadisuryo, Kesadaran Nasional [National Awareness] (1978) is written by A.A. Navis,[13] and Motik’s autobiography Motik: Tokoh Perintis Ekonomi Nasional [Motik: The Pioneer of National Economics] (1986) is written by Imam Halilintars.[14] Rather than focusing on his own life, Harsono Tjokroaminoto writes about his father, H.O.S. Cokroaminoto, in Menelusuri Jejak Ayahku [Following in my Father’s Footsteps] (1983).[15] Written mainly by nationalists or relatives of the nationalists, these autobiographies also show the trace of traditional writings, as they have a tendency to give advice to the reader, especially the younger generation.
  10. The New Order period witnessed a production of autobiographies by nationalists like never before. Some Indonesian women, although quite rare, also started publishing their autobiographies. Some of these women’s autobiographies also have ghost-writers. For instance, Sujatin Kartowijono’s Mencari Makna Hidupku [Searching the Meaning of My Life] (1983) was written by Hanna Rambe,[16] Inggit Ganarsih’s Kuantar ke Gerbang [I Take You to the Gate] (1988) was written by Ramadhan K.H.[17] and Lasmidjah Hardi’s Lasmidjah Hardi: Perjalanan Tiga Zaman [Lasmidjah Hardi: The Journey of Three Eras] (1997) was written by Irna HN Hadi Soewito, Sri Riris Wahyu Widati and Julius Pour.[18]
  11. Expected to provide examples for the next generation, most Indonesian women write in such a way that their autobiographies should provide moral values for others. The quotations taken from some women’s autobiographies below show this kind of intention:
    For the young generation who will one day inherit the responsibility of the nation … Hopefully the experiences told in this book have some value and bring some lessons for my country Indonesia. Bagi generasi muda yang pada waktunya kelak mewarisi tanggung jawab bangsa … Semoga pengalaman yang tertuang pada buku ini mempunyai nilai dan membawa hikmah bagi bangsaku Indonesia.[19]
    This is an 'inheritance,' for them, the seed of the country, which does not have any material value. Only spiritual. Written with sincere love and prayer, hopefully the difficulties and the happiness that I have experienced or I have reached can be the inspiration for better action or dedication. Inilah sebuah 'warisan' kepada mereka, para tunas bangsa, yang tak mempunyai nilai materi. Hanya rohani. Ditulis dengan penuh cinta kasih dan doa, semoga kesukaran dan kebahagiaan yang saya lalui atau capai dapat menjadi sumber ilham untuk perbuatan atau bakti yang lebih baik.[20]
    Hopefully, there is a lesson which can be gained by the recent young generation after reading this book. Semoga, ada pelajaran yang dapat dipetik oleh generasi muda saat ini setelah usai membaca buku ini.[21]
    Like the male counterpart, the female subjects of autobiographies in Indonesia are mainly nationalists or relative of nationalists who have a tendency to give advice to the reader, especially the younger generation.
  12. The autobiographies of the two women discussed in this paper, those of Inggit Garnasih and Herlina, also demonstrate loyalty, merit and dedication to the nation. In the introduction to Inggit’s autobiography, for instance, S.I. Poeradisastra writes: ‘Half of Soekarno's achievements could be deposited in the account of Inggit Garnasih’ [Separuh daripada semua prestasi Soekarno dapat didepositokan atas rekening Inggit Garnasih].[22] Herlina also gives the impressions that her text will benefit other people, as she writes in the introduction:
    Inside myself, there is a desire to write my autobiography as long as it can be useful and deserves to be known by other people—including you, the reader! [D]i dalam diriku sendiri ada semacam niat untuk menulis otobiografiku, sepanjang hal-hal itu punya manfaat dan patut diketahui oleh manusia-manusia lain - termasuk Anda, para pembaca![23]
    As the text describes, Inggit is the second wife of Soekarno (Soekarno married Utari before Inggit). Twelve years older than Soekarno, Inggit had supported him financially since he was a student by selling traditional herbs and face-powder. She continued providing Soekarno with mental as well as financial support in his political career.
  13. When Soekarno was imprisoned by the Dutch government, Inggit smuggled books, newspapers, letters and information so that Soekarno could get in touch with his political friends and keep going with his activities. Inggit had taken a huge part in Soekarno’s struggle for Indonesian independence and for this reason, she is considered as one of the Indonesian heroines for independence. Her autobiography was written by Ramadhan K.H., who has produced several novels and autobiographies, such as Rojan Revolusi (1970), Keluarga Permana (1978) and Otobiografi Soeharto: Pikiran, Ucapan dan Tindakan Saya (1988).[24]
  14. Different from Inggit’s autobiography, Herlina’s is written by herself. Herlina is the first Indonesian woman to travel around Indonesia. She is also the first Indonesian woman parachute jumper, who landed in the jungle of West Irian (now Irian Jaya). Her departure to West Irian begins with Soekarno’s order, which is called ‘The People’s Command,’ in which she was asked to ‘liberate West Irian, part of the Indonesian Motherland, from the shackles of Dutch colonialism’ [Membebaskan Irian Barat Tanah Air Indonesia dari belenggu kolonialisme Belanda].[25] In recognition, Soekarno gave her an award called Pending Emas or the Golden Buckle.
  15. These two women do not seem to be very distinctive from other subjects of Indonesian women’s autobiographies, but their revelations of sexuality make their life stories exceptional. Indeed, the expectation to provide an example combined with the importance of sexual restrictions have undoubtedly shaped the representation of women in their autobiographies, especially since women’s sexual propriety has often been inseparable from being good Indonesian female citizens.[26]
  16. It is thus not surprising that most of these women either represent themselves as ‘proper and faithful women’ or do not address the issue of sexuality at all in their autobiographies. However, Herlina’s Bangkit Dari Dunia Sakit [Rising from the World of Illness] (1986) and Inggit Garnasih’s Kuantar ke Gerbang [I Take You to the Gate] (1988) occupy a grey area of women’s sexuality by depicting subjects who show romantic passion and even sexual interest for other men besides their own husbands. In this way, their autobiographies are different from most other Indonesian women’s autobiographies in terms of the subjects’ sexual descriptions. Yet, how can these differences be considered as transgressions in Indonesia?

    Transgression: theoretical background
  17. Transgression can be interpreted as violation of law, disobedience of a moral principle, defiance of the divine command or challenge against social norms. According to Michel Foucault, transgression ‘no longer recognize(s) any positive meaning in the sacred.’[27] In this case, women have often been subject to the discipline of the ‘sacred’ and authority, especially regarding their sexuality. Both Herlina and Inggit are religious Moslems living in Java. Although Islam in Indonesia is considered to be much more relaxed than its Middle Eastern counterpart, a patriarchal reading of this religion still enforces certain sexual restrictions upon women in Java.
  18. The discipline of women’s bodies as well as the sacredness of this discipline have often been the theme of feminist writings. Simone de Beauvoir, in The Second Sex states that various disciplines of female bodies have caused some intrinsic handicap for women’s sexuality.[28] Similarly, in Indonesia, as I mentioned previously, female bodies become subject to various disciplines: women should be ladylike as well as sexually pure and anything otherwise would be considered as transgression.[29] The concept of kodrat wanita or women’s inherent nature, was emphasised during the New Order period and ‘validated in mass organisations such as Dharma Wanita for civil servants’ wives and PKK (Pembinaan Kesejahteraan Keluarga—Family Welfare Movement) for ordinary home-makers’.[30] Assertion of ‘female autonomy in the face of patriarchal order,’ according to Barbara Hatley, can be considered as a transgression in such society.[31] In addition, women who do not show enough femininity will already be considered transgressive in Indonesia, as Blackwood argues: ‘For those who do not fit the normative model of gender, or find it limiting and oppressive, such a model persuades them of their masculinity, producing gender transgression.’[32]
  19. However, according to Deirdre Lashgari, feminist transgression should involve redefining the original rules: transgression is not only 'to violate the master's boundaries' but also 'to affirm the possibility of the travesía, the crossing over.' [33] Transgression, in this case, must have the capability to transform the core of certain social or dominant values. The sacred, in such transgression, must be secularised. If this definition is applied in relation to the Indonesian women's roles, this will involve deconstructions of patriarchal values as well as the redefinition(s) of those values, rather than some temporary gender challenge as described by Hatley and Blackwood.
  20. Foucault, on the other hand, insists that

      transgression is not related to the limit as black to white, the prohibited to the lawful, the outside to the inside … Transgression contains nothing negative, but affirms the limitlessness into which it leaps as it opens this zone to existence for the first time. [34]

    In this case, transgression can be associated with many forms without having to be revolutionary or to set up new rules: being different from the majority can already be included in Foucault’s definition of transgression. Such transgression cannot be separated from its limit. Rather it gives awareness of the existence of its limit: once the transgression defines a new set of rules, it will no longer become transgression but a new law or limit. Indeed, George Bataille, who is considered as one of the first thinkers of transgression,[35] states: ‘transgression does not deny the taboo, but transcends and completes it.’[36] In Bataille’s interpretation, transgression functions to accentuate the limit of law or taboo rather than to change the core of law.
  21. Julia Kristeva explores the possibility of transgression further by separating it into three stages. The first of which takes place in the individual. The next stage goes further to the symbolic, which means that transgression has to question certain concepts and/or notions of truth. The final stage of transgression becomes a social and political revolution, which means that it has the possibility to transform the original rules into a new set of rules.[37] In this third stage, transgression has become revolutionary.
  22. While Inggit and Herlina’s sexuality can be considered as transgression in its complex interpretations and meanings, some other questions may arise: into which definition of transgression do these women fit and how far do these two women transgress the norms in Indonesia?

    Herlina’s Bangkit Dari Dunia Sakit
  23. Herlina was born on 24 February 1941 in Malang-East Java. Before Bangkit Dari Dunia Sakit, she wrote an autobiography entitled Pending Emas [The Golden Buckle], which describes her experiences in West Papua. This text was published in 1965 and republished in 1985.[38] In Bangkit Dari Dunia Sakit, Herlina describes how she was very ill after being involved in many struggles and wars. She suffered from three diseases simultaneously: tuberculosis, liver problems and diabetes. Herlina had to live in the mountains to recuperate from her illness and while there she decided to adopt some poor or abandoned children. Similar to Soetomo’s autobiography, while Herlina’s text is categorised as an ‘autobiography’ (back-cover), Herlina also sees herself in relation to her adopted children besides narrating her own story.
  24. In describing how she educates her adopted children in Bangkit Dari Dunia Sakit, Herlina affirms that girls should be responsible for their own decency. Although talking about sex is quite rare in Indonesia, in educating her adopted children, Herlina chooses to talk openly about sex with them so that she can be an ‘up-to-date’ mother.[39] Nevertheless, Herlina’s discussions merely address this subject in terms of the rules and restrictions which society expects females to observe in relation to their sexuality. This means that while she claims that she is ‘up-to-date,’ she does not question conservative values in educating her children. Although in her youth Herlina travelled around Indonesia and went to the jungle of Irian Barat on her own, Herlina prohibits her adopted daughters from going camping because she is afraid that the girls may tend to be too free with boys in the camping situation. She tells her daughters that going camping creates ‘banyak peluang negatif’ [many negative opportunities] for ‘para remaja putri seusia kalian’ [female teenagers at your age].[40]
  25. The campsites, Herlina continues, are ‘jauh dari keramaian’ [far from the crowd] and can lead the girls into ‘pergaulan bebas’ [being promiscuous].[41] In restricting sex for the girls, Herlina states:
    All of you know, there are many of Mother's visitors who are teenagers like you, asking for protection, coming to complain about having fallen pregnant. At the end, school has to be sacrificed … How about the men? They can still be free, because their stomach will never bulge!. [K]alian semua tahu, berapa banyak tamu-tamu Ibu yang terdiri dari remaja seusia kalian, minta perlindungan datang mengadukan perutnya sudah berisi janin. Akhirnya, sekolah yang dikorbankan …Bagaimana dengan si prianya? Mereka tetap bisa bebas, karena perutnya tidak akan pernah buncit![42]
    Herlina stresses that sex before marriage is taboo, especially for women, because they are the ones who will bear the consequences. On the other hand, she points out how free men can be because men will never carry the effects of such a ‘mistake’.
  26. Herlina’s advice may show awareness of the unfairness of relations between men and women, but at the same time, she affirms that women should be more blameworthy. In this autobiography, Herlina never mentions that she placed sexual restrictions on her adopted sons. She never mentions any concern regarding her sons' activities either. The absence of this description may indicate that Herlina is not as restrictive of the boys' as she is of the girls' activities.
  27. Although Herlina’s advice to her adopted daughters sounds quite conventional, her marriage is unusual compared with the ideal image of Indonesian women. This is evidenced when Herlina writes, in Bangkit Dari Dunia Sakit, how she divorced her first husband, married a second one, but remained in love with her ex-husband. This autobiography describes how Herlina marries her long-time boyfriend, Harkomoyo, who is a sailor. After their marriage, Herlina suffers from many diseases including tuberculosis, which were the effects of her harsh life in the jungles of Irian. Because of these illnesses, she has to move from Jakarta and stay in a farmhouse, away from the city. Harkomoyo decides to accompany her and get adjusted to the new environment to be able to look after her properly, as Herlina states: ‘dari pelaut ia terjun ke usaha pertanian’ [from being a sailor, he had to take up farming].[43] Yet Herlina decides to divorce Harkomoyo despite his efforts.
  28. While divorcing a man may have been considered unconventional for Indonesian women during the New Order, Herlina’s reason for the divorce sounds very conventional: she thinks of Harkomoyo’s success and happiness. Looking at herself in the mirror, Herlina is concerned about women’s traditional value: beauty. She sees herself from the male perspective. Her physical appearance becomes one of her main concerns, which makes her feel that there are no means by which she can please her husband any more. As she states: ‘Ah, apa yang akan kuperuntukkan bagi suamiku? Tubuhku, wajahku, semuanya tidak ada artinya, sebab semuanya sudah begitu buruk dilalap habis-habisan oleh penyakit yang keparat itu’ [Oh, what should I give to my husband? My body, my face, everything is worthless, because everything has been so ugly, eaten by those awful diseases].[44]
  29. In Herlina’s opinion, their marriage is obstructing Harkomoyo’s career because he has to spend more time with her rather than concentrating on his own future. She states:
    I shouldn't be selfish, only considering my own benefit. No! I can't let my husband sacrifice for me all the time. Because he deserves to have his own future, to advance his career. [A]ku tidak boleh egoistis, hanya memperhitungkan enaknya bagi diriku sendiri. Tidak! Aku tidak sanggup membiarkan terus-menerus pengorbanan suamiku. Sebab, ia pun berhak mempunyai masa depannya sendiri, membina kariernya.[45]
    Hence, her unconventional deed is based on more conventional reasons: her consideration for Harkomoyo’s career.
  30. After getting divorced from Harkomoyo, Herlina feels quite lonely and decides to marry another man, Kasim. The reason for her second marriage, she states, is not love but need: ‘Aku menyadari bahwa perkawinanku sekarang tidak lagi akan berpijak berdasarkan cinta, tetapi kehadiran sepasang manusia yang saling membutuhkan’ [I realise that my present marriage is not based on love, but the need of a couple of human beings for company].[46]
  31. In her second marriage, Herlina never mentions her previous worry about her lack of physical beauty. Herlina also makes a deal with her new husband. She demands that he allow her to love her previous husband, Harkomoyo, as she tells her second husband: ‘aku memberi tahu bahwa aku tetap selalu ingat kepada Harkomoyo, dan harap tidak ada persoalan’ [I told him that I would always remember Harkomoyo, and expected that this would not cause any problems].[47] Herlina also asks her husband to allow her to see Harkomoyo on her own every time he comes to visit in Jakarta.
  32. During these meetings, Herlina writes how she still addresses Harkomoyo as ‘sayang’ [darling] and how he calls her ‘manis’ [sweet] or ‘manisku sayang’ [my darling sweet].[48] Some intimate scenes in their meetings like hugging or kissing are also described: ‘He straight away kissed me spontaneously several times’ [Ia langsung saja spontan menciumiku bertubi-tubi].[49] While Indonesian women are expected to be faithful, Herlina practises a kind of triangular love. In this case, Herlina transgresses the boundaries of being a faithful Indonesian woman: she loves two men and demands that her husband, Kasim, accept this situation.
  33. Nonetheless, Herlina never mentions any sexual relationship outside legal bond. While Herlina has a triangular relationship at some stage in her marriage, she describes how she can still ‘control’ herself in one of her meetings with Harkomoyo: ‘His embrace is very tight, his heart beats fast and warmly, he still feels that I am his wife! Oh, God, this is your disciple, a 'human being'! I feel relieved, I don't get carried away by the enjoyment of worldly illusions’ [Rangkulannya melekat erat, hatinya berdebar memburu hangat, ia merasa aku masih istrinya! Oh, Tuhan, inilah umat-Mu, 'manusia'! Aku pun lega, tak sampai hanyut mereguk fatamorgana].[50] Despite their strong affection for one another, Herlina affirms that she and Harkomoyo still keep certain boundaries between them. The absence of sexual affairs outside wedlock in her autobiography may signify that Herlina really has never had any sexual affairs outside marriage. Another possibility is that she is too embarrassed to admit it, even if she has done it. All the possibilities imply that sex outside of marriage has to be avoided and is still considered taboo in Indonesian society.
  34. In this case, while Herlina transgresses the boundary of monogamy, she is still within the limit of the social norms as well. Herlina’s relationship with Harkomoyo denies the sacredness of monogamy and violates the moral principle of being a ‘proper’ woman. However, while her transgression is an act of disobedience of certain moral principles in Indonesia, Herlina does not go as far as challenging the core of Indonesian women’s sexual conventions.
  35. In addition, her triangular relationship with Harkomoyo and Kasim does not last long. Herlina organises for Harkomoyo to remarry one of her adopted daughters, Ida, whom Herlina describes as young and beautiful: ‘Ida, anak angkatku, gadis cantik usia 22 tahun … cantik bin ayu!’ [Ida, my adopted child, a beautiful girl aged 22 years old … astonishingly beautiful!].[51] At this point, Herlina’s multiple love is redeemed in the matching of her ex-husband with Ida, so that Herlina can be genuinely monogamous. Herlina’s transgression is normalised in the end: she has given Harkomoyo a beautiful young girl as a replacement for her own fading physical beauty.
  36. The end of the triangular relationship between herself, her husband and Harkomoyo seems to be confirmed when she describes how she gives up Harkomoyo wholly and fully to her adopted daughter, Ida:
    My presents for Ida are all Harkomoyo's presents for me, I give all to her, so that she is really sure that I have wholeheartedly let Harkomoyo go! Hadiahku kepada Ida adalah semua pemberian Harkomoyo kepadaku, kuserahkan kepadanya, sehingga ia benar-benar yakin bahwa aku telah melepas Harkomoyo dengan sepenuh hati![52]
    Despite Herlina’s normalisation of her transgression, she still produces the impression of being a powerful woman. She is the one who initiates most of the marital activities: divorcing Harkomoyo, getting married to another man under certain conditions and finally ‘giving’ Harkomoyo to her adopted daughter. She has become the manager of these two men. Consequently, Herlina’s autobiography can produce different assumptions and interpretations. Similar paradoxes can be found in the next autobiography I discuss, Kuantar ke Gerbang.

    Inggit Garnasih’s Kuantar ke Gerbang
  37. As discussed previously, although Herlina describes her extra-marital relationship, she never mentions any sexual relationship outside legal bonds. Indeed, the ideal women in Indonesia are the ones who were able to control their sexual activities especially outside of marriage. Yet, not all subjects of Indonesian autobiographies represent themselves as sexually pure or immune from sexual pleasure outside legal bonds. Kuantar ke Gerbang, for instance, makes reference to Inggit’s extra-marital affair with Soekarno.
  38. Inggit Garnasih was born in 1889 in a small village in West Java, Kamasan, and then moved to Bandung. In this autobiographical text, Inggit describes herself as a beautiful lady who receives attention from many suitors.[53] Although this autobiography focuses on Inggit Garnasih’s love story with Soekarno (Kusno), the text reveals that Inggit is first married to Nata and then Sanusi (Uci). While married to her first husband Nata, Inggit is already in love with Sanusi. She marries Nata because Sanusi is going to have an arranged marriage with another woman. As described in the text, the married Sanusi still maintains his infatuation with the married Inggit. In the end, both Sanusi and Inggit divorce their respective partners and marry each other.
  39. After Inggit marries Sanusi, she meets Soekarno. When Inggit and Soekarno meet, Soekarno is married to Utari. Twelve years younger than Inggit, Soekarno comes to the house of Inggit and her husband as a student seeking board. In their first meeting, Inggit compares Soekarno (Kusno) with her husband straight away: Soekarno ‘is a cheerful person, much more cheerful than my husband’ [benar-benar orang periang, jauh periang dibandingkan dengan suamiku].[54]

    After Soekarno comes to her house, Inggit tells how things change after his arrival:
    Since the arrival of Kusno, that's how I called the student who boarded with us, our house became more crowded, visited by many people, especially young men … This event made me busy, busier than usual. I was glad serving many people. Life became exciting. Sejak kedatangan Kusno, begitulah aku sapa mahasiswa yang menumpang itu, rumah kami menjadi jauh lebih ramai dikunjungi orang, terutama kaum muda yang berdatangan … Kejadian ini menyebabkan aku sibuk, lebih sibuk dari biasa. Aku pun senang melayani banyak orang. Hidup jadi bergairah.[55]
    Inggit implies that her relationship with her husband, Sanusi, has deteriorated:
    The problem for me was my own husband, Kang Uci (Sanusi). He still liked going out often … And I had no more desire to talk to him. Let him get his own pleasure, I thought. Yang jadi soal bagiku adalah justru suamiku sendiri, Kang Uci. Ia masih juga tetap suka sering keluar rumah … Dan aku sudah tidak bernafsu lagi untuk menegurnya. Biarlah ia mendapatkan kesenangannya sendiri, pikirku.[56]
    The word ‘masih juga’ [still] stresses that his habit of leaving her at home had developed before Soekarno’s arrival.
  40. The story becomes a justification of Inggit’s affair with Soekarno as she describes how Soekarno’s relationship with his wife had also not been harmonious. Soekarno often consults Inggit about the problems he has with his wife: he tells her how he and Utari (his wife) are not like husband and wife: '"We sleep together in the same bed," said Kusno, "However, physically and spiritually, we are like brother and sister. No more than brother and sister.'" ['Kami tidur berdampingan di satu tempat tidur,' kata Kusno, 'tetapi secara jasmani dan rohani kami sebagai kakak beradik. Tidak lebih daripada sebagai kakak dan adik'].[57] Soekarno and Utari later get a divorce.
  41. After Soekarno is divorced, rumours about Inggit and Soekarno spread among ‘famili Kang Uci’ [Uci’s relatives]:[58]
    They thought that I exploited Uci. I was scolded as if everything I was wearing, bracelet, gold necklace, diamond ring, were my husband's effort which I had exploited … Plus the whispering about my relationship with the young man who boarded at our place. Aku dianggap mereka memeras Kang Uci. Aku diumpat seolah-olah apa-apa yang kupakai, gelang, kalung emas, cincin berlian adalah jerih payah suamiku yang aku peras … Ditambah lagi dengan bisik-bisik tentang hubunganku dengan pemuda yang menumpang di rumah kami.[59]
    Rather than keeping quiet about these rumours, Inggit’s rebellious nature is seen when she confronts Sanusi’s parents. Inggit comes to her in-laws’ place and explains what is happening. She not only talks to them but also threatens them:
    In front of my father in law, I dared to say: 'Father, if this keeps on going, I will give Uci back to you. This is my intention in coming to see you.' Di depan mertuaku yang laki-laki aku berani berkata,'Bapak, kalau begini terus, saya serahkan Kang Uci kembali kepada Bapak. Inilah maksud kami datang menghadap kepada Bapak'. [60]
    Mentioning that she will divorce her husband, Inggit defends her rights in a way that is unusually bold for Indonesian women at that time. Her threat to give back her husband to his parents also implies her power of ownership over her husband. Instead of him possessing her, her statement suggests that she possesses him.
  42. Nevertheless, her affair with Soekarno continues:
    At night we were often alone together. Without sensing it, the moment of silence had been grasped by the ocean of love, which gradually rose. Unconsciously, we had been sunk in it. Until one time, Kusno approached me and I was responsive. I also consisted of flesh and blood, a common person who could be melted by loneliness and beaten by the overwhelming beaming ray of love. Malam hari sering kali kami berduaan. Dengan tidak terasa saat-saat sepi telah direnggut oleh lautan asmara yang menjalar dan naik jadi pasang serta kami dengan tiada sadar telah tenggelam karenanya. Sampai pada satu saat Kusno merayu aku dan aku pun peka. Aku pun terdiri dari darah dan daging, manusia biasa yang luluh oleh kesepian dan musnah oleh pijar sinar cinta yang meluap.[61]
    Narrating Inggit’s and Soekarno’s bad relationships with their respective partners, the lonely nights, the times they spend together in the house, Inggit makes herself the passive agent in the relationship with Soekarno.
  43. Having two extra-marital relationships, Inggit also does another very scandalous thing by Indonesian standards: she has sexual intercourse with her much younger boarder while still being the wife of another man. Inggit becomes the social transgressor in this case, as she describes:
    He moved his hand, edging closer and closer, and touched mine. I felt his energy. His chest got closer. His lips were closer. I was drawn to him and we changed positions.
    I suppose everyone understands what happened then.
    Dia menggeser tangannya, merayap pelahan-lahan dan menyentuh tanganku. Kurasakan tenaganya. Dadanya mendekat. Bibirnya mendekat. Aku ditarik dan kami berpindah tempat.
    Hendaknya semua maklum apa yang terjadi sebagai kelanjutannya.[62]
    While she violates the stereotype of a good and pure Indonesian woman, at the same time Inggit gives the impression that she is still part of her society. She is unwilling to tell explicitly what happens between her and Soekarno. Rather, she states that everyone should ‘understand what happened then.’
  44. That an individual is also a reflection of society is indicated as Inggit tells how they finally get further involved:
    I am embarrassed about telling this. I am an Eastern woman. I cannot be frank in front of you … He seduced me again and I was susceptible. What kind of a devil tempted us, so that we forgot ourselves and took pleasure from this life, carried to a world of love without any sense at all? Aku malu menceritakannya. Aku adalah seorang perempuan Timur. Aku tidak mampu berterus terang di depanmu … Ia merayu aku lagi dan aku pun peka. Setan apa yang telah menyeret kami, sehingga kami lupa diri dan menikmati kehidupan ini, dihanyut ke dunia asmara tanpa akal sedikit jua pun?[63]
    Inggit expresses her awareness of being an Indonesian by stating that she is an Eastern woman, and finds that this experience is embarrassing and wicked. She seeks to defend herself by reference to outside forces, such as loneliness and the devil. The sinfulness of her act is nevertheless connoted by Inggit as she describes that what she does with Soekarno may be influenced by a devil [setan].
  45. Nevertheless, while implying that what she has done is debased, Inggit contradicts this again by defending herself:
    Ah, why should I talk about the past. Embarrassing! The story of our youth, every one should have understood it. Well, it is not something which is supposed to be emulated. Moreover you can understand my condition at that time, our marriage I mean. For a long time, my husband had not been a man who could please me. Ah, untuk apa pula mengutik-utik masa lampau. Malu! Cerita kita waktu muda sudah sama-sama kita maklum. Sudahlah, bukan sesuatu yang pantas untuk ditiru. Lagi pula keadaanku waktu itu, keadaan rumah tangga kami maksudku, bisa kalian maklumi. Suamiku sudah lama bukan lagi seorang laki-laki yang bisa memuaskan diriku.[64]
    On the one hand, Inggit reproaches herself by declaring that she may have been influenced by Satan in her actions. On the other hand, Inggit implies that this kind of behaviour can be excused, justifying what she has done with Soekarno. She even urges that her ‘indiscretion’ with Soekarno should be understood because it was caused by her marital situation. Mentioning that her husband was not able to please her for a long time, Inggit conveys to the reader that she also has sexual desires which need to be acknowledged. As a woman, she also wants to be pleasured by a man. If this demand cannot be fulfilled, then it can cause her to seek pleasure with another man. Thus, while she expects the reader to condemn what she does with Soekarno, she also wants the reader to accept it. Her transgression thus relates to its limit in two ways: by condemnation and by justification.
  46. Tiwon’s model of an ideal Indonesian woman who waits and is a good wife and mother is contradicted by Inggit’s actions. Rather than being a loyal and submissive wife, Inggit has two extra-marital relationships, first with Sanusi and then with Soekarno. Leaving her husband for a much younger man, Inggit has taken a quite unconventional decision in relation to the standard of Tiwon’s model of Indonesian women. On the other hand, Sanusi takes a more submissive and sacrificial role, a role which is supposed to be played by stereotypical women. Without anger, Sanusi accepts her decision. Hinting at his unlimited love, Sanusi lets Inggit go with the man she loves and he even wishes her happiness:
    'I have told Kusno, love Enggit (Inggit) sincerely and don't neglect her. I will not be happy nor consent if I have to witness Enggit living miserably, materially as well as spiritually.' 'Akang telah katakan kepada Kusno, cintailah Enggit [Inggit] dengan sungguh-sungguh dan jangan terlantarkan dia. Saya tidak senang, tidak rela kalau mesti melihat Enggit hidup sengsara, baik lahir, maupun batin.'[65]
    This wish is fulfilled in a legal letter: ‘a separate piece of Kusno's agreement letter was very important for me. He promised what Sanusi asked: he would not hurt me’ [sehelai surat perjanjian Kusno yang terpisah amatlah penting bagiku. Ia berjanji seperti apa yang diminta oleh Kang Sanusi: ia tidak akan menyakiti aku].[66] Despite Inggit’s infidelity, Sanusi gives her some money for the future: ‘Not long after that Sanusi gave me a divorce. I left for my parents' house with some financial provision given by Uci (Sanusi)’ [Maka tidak lama setelah itu jatuhlah talak dari tangan Kang Sanusi. Aku pun pergi ke rumah orang tua dengan diberi bekal hidup oleh Kang Uci].[67]
  47. In this case, Sanusi shows sacrifice, benevolence and submissiveness, some of the traditional characters which are supposed to be adopted by women. He is in some ways 'feminised', as he hardly shows any antagonism or aggression after being betrayed by his wife. Yet, behind Sanusi's benevolent treatment of Inggit is Soekarno's charismatic image:
    'I wish you luck,' said Sanusi again. 'If you accept Kusno's proposal and you two get married. Let's support him, so that he can be the real leader of the people. Stand by his side, help him, so that he can achieve his ideals.' 'Akang ridoi,' kata [Sanusi] lagi. 'Kalau Eulis menerima lamaran Kusno itu dan kalian berdua nikah. Mari kita jagokan dia, sehingga benar-benar menjadi pemimpin rakyat. Dampingi dia, bantulah dia, sampai ia benar-benar mencapai cita-citanya.'[68]
    As is described in the above passage, it is not merely for the sake of Inggit that Sanusi lets her go, but also for the sake of Soekarno’s future and career.
  48. Nonetheless, one’s identity is often formed ‘vis-à-vis’ the other. One can change his/her identity depending on his/her interaction with the other. Inggit’s ‘outrageous’ love life and transgressive actions are in some ways redeemed in her marriage with Soekarno. While with Sanusi, she expresses her demand to be pleased, with Soekarno she merely wants to fulfil his demands. In her references to her sexual relationship with Soekarno, Inggit merely mentions her capacity to give him pleasure. Inggit states: ‘I am the woman whom he hoped for with all his desire’ [Aku perempuan yang sangat diharapkannya dengan perasaan birahinya].[69] However, it is the ‘birahi’ [desire] of the man which is mentioned. It is Soekarno who feels and perceives Inggit’s physical attraction, whereas Inggit’s sexual desire in relation to Soekarno is scarcely mentioned in the text.
  49. For Inggit, Soekarno’s love derives from her dedication, sacrifice, loyalty and admiration:
    Please note, my husband respected me because I loved him, because I never gave complicated opinions, because I waited for him, supported him and adored him. All of this was right. I gave everything to him. Camkanlah, suamiku menghargai aku, karena aku mencintainya, karena aku tidak memberikan pendapat-pendapat yang berbelit-belit, karena aku menunggunya, mendorongnya dan memujanya. Semua itu adalah benar. Aku memberikan segala sesuatu kepadanya.[70]
    Soekarno’s respect for Inggit is, however, questioned when Soekarno starts ignoring her. While Inggit still loves, supports and admires him, he becomes somewhat disrespectful to her after a new woman, Fatmah,[71] arrives on the scene.
  50. As is described in the text, prior to Soekarno’s romantic involvement with Fatmah, Djuami (Inggit and Soekarno's adopted daughter) convinces Inggit to allow Fatmah to stay at their place. Eventually, Inggit comes to regard Fatmah as one of her children. However, her husband treats Fatmah differently. Inggit begins to notice how her husband pays extra attention to their newly adopted daughter especially whenever there is any disagreement among the three women, Fatmah, Djuami and Inggit:
    But why was Kusno always on Fatmah's side? Was that because that girl had not been long among us, so that Kusno felt that he should have spoilt Hassan Din's daughter and taken sides with her? I was not suspicious. Fatmah was younger than Djuami. Tetapi mengapa Kusno seperti selalu berada di pihak Fatmah? Apakah justru karena anak perempuan itu belum lama berada ditengah-tengah kami, maka Kusno merasa sepatutnya memanjakan anak Hassan Din itu dan memihak kepadanya? Aku tidak mempunyai pikiran yang bukan-bukan. Fatmah lebih muda daripada Djuami. [72]
    Fatmah's position as Inggit and Soekarno's adopted daughter makes it harder for Inggit to admit or even to accept that she should have been suspicious.
  51. Soekarno even sends Inggit to Yogja to accompany Djuami so that he can have more free time with Fatmah. Returning from Yogja, Inggit sees the difference in her house: ‘I found everything had changed. The chairs had moved. The vases had changed. The furniture in the kitchen had changed places. Yes, on top of that the atmosphere had utterly changed’ [[A]ku menemukan seperti segala telah berubah. Kursi-kursi telah berpindah. Pot-pot telah berubah. Perabot di dapur sudah bertukar tempat. Ya, di atas semua itu suasananya telah berubah sama sekali.].[73] Inggit’s reaction is to be ‘diam’ [quiet], to accept what Soekarno does to her.
  52. The rebellious Inggit, who bravely faces Sanusi’s parents and leaves her husband for a much younger and more attractive man, has disappeared into a submissive Inggit who tries to accept what happens patiently. The roles are reversed this time. With Sanusi, Inggit is more decisive, but in her relationship with Soekarno, she is no longer a woman who takes action. She waits instead: ‘Don't be agitated. Wait! Be patient! Be polite! Polite! … I am patient. Making an effort to be patient.’ [Jangan ribut. Tahan! Sabarlah! Bersopanlah! Sopan! … Aku sabar. Menyabar-nyabarkan diri].[74]
  53. The necessity to maintain her silence is shown when some women visit Inggit, soon after their marital problem is known in public:
    A group of women had gathered in the front room. Indeed my activities continued, even in that kind of atmosphere.
    I invited them to sit. We then had a chat for about an hour. But I didn't touch on anything to do with our divorce. Why should I tell them anything? I thought to myself.
    Serombongan wanita sudah berkumpul di ruangan depan. Memang kesibukanku selama ini terus berjalan, dalam keadaan suasana demikian pun.
    Kupersilakan mereka duduk. Kemudian kami ngobrol barang sejam. Tetapi sedikit pun aku tidak menyinggung soal perceraian kami. Mengapa pula mesti kuceritakan? Pikirku. [75]
    With Soekarno she becomes a more reserved woman who maintains silence to gain respect. It is in this published text, however, that Inggit transgresses her ‘silence’: she speaks up about her silence. Her silence is thus uttered. It becomes a speaking silence.
  54. Some other paradoxes can be inferred from the text, as Inggit still tries to show her devotion to Soekarno in the face of his betrayal. Referring to sex as woman’s ‘pelayanan’ [service] to her man, at one stage Inggit even blames herself when her husband, Soekarno, falls in love with another much younger woman:
    Did I serve him less now? Did he hope that, after our being together for twenty years, he could still expect the same services from me as during the first nights in Bandung? Did I have to be as elastic as I was when I was young, at my present age? Apakah sekarang aku kurang melayaninya? Apakah setelah kami bersama-sama dua puluh tahun lamanya ia mengharapkan pelayananku yang sama seperti pada waktu malam-malam pertama di Bandung? Apakah pada waktu aku berusia seperti sekarang harus seempuk seperti waktu mudaku? [76]
    While before, Inggit is able to leave her husband for another source of pleasure, with Soekarno she becomes a woman who questions her ability to provide pleasure for her husband.
  55. Although Inggit refuses to stay with Soekarno and his Fatmah, Inggit has to leave without creating any conflict, as is required by their son-in-law:
    This is the only way, Mother. Our country needs Father. He belongs to all of us. The people need Father as their leader, not anyone else. And what will happen to Indonesia, if Father is destroyed? Ini jalan satu-satunya, Bu. Negeri kita memerlukan Bapak. Dia kepunyaan kita semua. Rakyat memerlukan Bapak sebagai pemimpinnya, tidak yang lain. Dan apa yang akan terjadi dengan Indonesia, kalau Bapak hancur?[77]
    For the sake of the people, a man’s ego must be supported with a woman’s sacrifice. For the sake of the nation, Inggit must remain silent about her sorrow.
  56. Inggit’s loyalty to her man is apparent when, after being betrayed by Soekarno, she still prays for his well-being: ‘semoga ia selamat mencapai cita-citanya’ [Hopefully he can fulfil his ideals safely].[78] While this sacrifice may imply Inggit’s submissiveness to Soekarno, her sacrifice may also make her greater than Soekarno. Poeradisastra, a well-known lecturer and writer in Indonesia, describes in the introduction to the text:
    Inggit is older than Soekarno and also more mature in facing critical moments. She is like a hen whose wings are wide open, protecting her only chicken. Inggit lebih tua ketimbang Soekarno dan juga lebih dewasa menghadapi saat-saat gawat. Ia merupakan induk ayam yang sayapnya terbentang memberikan perlindungan kepada anaknya yang hanya satu.[79]
    Describing Inggit as a mother who protects her child, Poeradisastra belittles Soekarno in comparison with Inggit. It is Inggit who can solve the problems and face critical moments, not Soekarno. It is Inggit who sacrifices more for the country than Soekarno.
  57. Despite Inggit’s sexual transgression, she is transformed into a sacrificing and loyal wife. Inggit’s persistence for a divorce rather than obeying Soekarno’s wish to stay in his polygamous marriage, is mentioned but hardly discussed in the text. Rather, her complicated and diverse character is made into a decent unified whole: the devoted wife of an Indonesian patriot. As Poeradisastra states in the introduction:
    This is the difference between Inggit and the other (wives): carried to hell, but not following to heaven … With her big heart, Inggit forgives 'Fatimah' (Fatmah), her ex-adopted daughter, who had had a love affair with her adopted father. Inilah bedanya Inggit dari yang lain-lain: naraka katut, suarga ora nunut[80]… Dengan kebesaran jiwa Inggit memaafkan 'Fatimah' [Fatmah], bekas anak angkatnya, yang menjalin kasih sayang dengan ayah angkatnya.[81]
    Inggit is elevated more than the other wives of Soekarno because of her sacrifice and forgiveness in relation to Soekarno’s infidelity. In this ‘competition,’ a woman’s merit is thus based upon her service to her husband.
  58. Poeradisastra writes on the back cover of the autobiography:
    Inggit bagi Soekarno adalah alter ego yang paling ideal-kewanitaan yang abadi (das ewig weibliche), kata pujangga Goethe. Tapi apakah yang abadi di dunia ini? Di muka gerbang kemerdekaan Inggit berpisah dengan Soekarno—hatinya penuh kasih, maaf dan doa. Inggit for Soekarno is the most ideal alter ego—the eternal feminine (das ewig weibliche), said Goethe the writer. But what is eternal in this world? At the gate of liberation, Inggit was separated from Soekarno—her heart was full of love, forgiveness and prayer].[82]
    Inggit’s duty in accompanying Soekarno to the gate of liberation has been fulfilled, as the title Kuantar ke Gerbang [I take you to the gate] emphasises. Inggit’s past is in some ways redeemed by her repentance for her misdeeds and her sacrifice for Soekarno. Thus, the image of a faithful woman who sacrifices herself for her husband is still what the text produces, despite Inggit’s transgression of the stereotype of the faithful and sexless woman. This image may make her sexual transgression more tolerable for the reader in general.
  59. Another aspect which makes Inggit’s affair with Soekarno tolerable for the reader during the time of publication is that the text is written in such a way that it is a work of fiction. This is also another difference between Inggit’s autobiography and other Indonesian autobiographies, which are usually written as historical texts.
  60. In the introduction to this text, Ramadhan K.H. states that he writes this book not as a historical record but as a romance: ‘I don't pretend that the timeline (of the text) is accurate. I still write this writing as a romance not a historical record’ [saya tidak berpretensi bahwa susunan waktunya berurutan dengan tepat. Tulisan saya ini tetap saya susun sebagai roman dan bukan sebagai tulisan sejarah].[83] This opens up a possibility that Inggit’s affair with Soekarno is merely Ramadhan’s version or interpretation of the event rather than the ‘real’ event itself.
  61. Thus, like Herlina’s, Inggit’s transgression in her autobiography occurs in the individual: it does not provide much social and political challenge against patriarchy. Nevertheless, their transgressions have at least provided them with pleasures, as Lacan states: ‘without a transgression there is no access to jouissance.’[84]

  62. Despite the idea that Indonesian women can only be considered proper when they maintain their loyalty to ‘their men’ as well as their sexual purity, two autobiographies published during the New Order suggest otherwise. Herlina describes how she is still in love with her ex-husband while married to another man. Inggit relates how she had a sexual relationship with her boarder while still married. In this case, although both Herlina and Inggit are regarded as Indonesian heroines, they challenge some sexual boundaries considered proper for Indonesian women.
  63. Nonetheless, the power of sexual restrictions and traditions is still strong in relation to these women as their sexual transgressions are merely temporary and not only a means of opposing but also affirming patriarchal notions. Other pretexts or deeds usually compensate for the actions which are considered to be improper.
  64. In this case, while both women violate the boundaries of female sexuality in Indonesia, they do not go as far as making their transgressions political, as they have not shown enough challenge against the core of patriarchal values in Indonesia. In other words, they merely stay on Kristeva’s definition of the first stage transgression.
  65. Herlina’s divorcing her first husband is based on her concern for his future and career. While Inggit has an extra-marital relationship, she expresses her regret about it and condemns her own and Soekarno’s inability to control themselves. Inggit’s ‘misconduct’ becomes a kind of debt, paid by the picture of a self-sacrificing woman who dedicated her life for the nation, which is closer to the ideal of womanhood propagated in Indonesia, especially during the New Order when these two autobiographies were published.
  66. These two women may not have had much choice in describing themselves because such compensations may have been the very reason which enabled their autobiographies to be published in that period. However, these autobiographies end with different impressions of their subjects. Written by Ramadhan K.H. and introduced by Poeradisastra, Inggit’s autobiography concludes with the depiction that she cannot escape the male perspective. Her strength is measured by her sacrifice to Soekarno and the nation rather than by her defiance. Even in her last decision, she still has to listen to a man, her son-in-law. On the other hand, Herlina’s autobiography concludes with a picture that she is in control of the men around her. Although Herlina is being monogamous again in the end and her sexual transgression is normalised, such normalisation is produced by another transgression (by making a man do what she wants). For this reason, in her autobiography, the representation of a powerful woman who is able to command persists.


    [1] Jane Atkinson and S. Errington (eds), Power and Difference: Gender in Island Southeast Asia, Stanford, Ca: Stanford University Press, 1990; Shelly Errington, Meaning and Power in a Southeast Asian Realm, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989; Ward Keeler, Javanese Shadow Plays, Javanese Selves, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987; S. Brenner, The Domestication of Desire: Women, Wealth, and Modernity in Java, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.

    [2] Sylvia Tiwon, "Models and Maniacs: Articulating the Female in Indonesia," in Fantasizing the Feminine in Indonesia, ed. Laurie J. Sears, Durham: Duke University Press, 1996, pp. 64-65.

    [3] Krishna Sen, Indonesian Cinema: Framing the New Order, London: Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Zed Books, 1994; Laine Berman, Speaking through the Silence: Narratives, Social Conventions, and Power in Java, New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

    [4] Susan Rodgers, Telling Lives, Telling History: Autobiographical and Historical Imagination in Modern Indonesia, Berkeley, LA and London: University of California Press, 1995, p. 70.

    [5] C.W. Watson, Of Self and Nation: Autobiography and the Representation of Modern Indonesia, Honolulu: University of Hawai"i Press, 2000, p. 39.

    [6] Benedict Anderson, "A Time of Darkness and a Time of Lights: Transposition in Early Indonesian Nationalist Thought," in Perceptions of the Past in Southeast Asia, ed. Anthony Reid and David Marr, Kuala Lumpur and Hongkong: Heinemann, 1979, pp. 223-45.

    [7] Ann Kumar, "Javanese Historiography in and of the colonial period: A case study," in Perceptions of the Past in Southeast Asia, ed. Anthony Reid and David Marr, Kuala Lumpur, Hongkong: Heinemann, 1979; J.J. Ras, "Hikayat Banjar and Pararaton: A Structural Comparison of Two Chronicles," in A Man of Indonesian Letters, ed. C.M.S. Hellwig and S.O. Robson, Dordrecht and Cinnaminson: Foris Publications, 1986, pp. 184-203; Nancy Florida, Writing the Past, Inscribing the Future: History as Prophecy in Colonial Java, Duke University Press, 1995.

    [8] Anderson, "A Time of Darkness and a Time of Lights," p. 223; Rodgers, Telling Lives, Telling History, p. 37.

    [9] Anderson, "A Time of Darkness and a Time of Lights," p. 248.

    [10] Soekarno, Soekarno: An Autobiography, as told to Cindy Adams, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1965.

    [11] Soekarno, Bung Karno: Penjambung Lidah Rakjat Indonesia as told to Cindy Adams, Jakarta: Gunung Agung, 1964, p. 2.

    [12] Soekarno, Bung Karno, p. 13.

    [13] Ahmad Subardjo Djoyoadisuryo, Kesadaran Nasional, as told to A.A. Navis, Jakarta: Gunung Agung, 1978.

    [14] Motik, Motik: Tokoh Perintis Ekonomi Nasional, as told to Imam Halilintars, Jakarta: Gunung Agung, 1986.

    [15] Harsono Tjokroaminoto, Menelusuri Jejak Ayahku, Jakarta: Arsip Nasional Republik Indonesia, 1983.

    [16] Sujatin Kartowijono, Mencari Makna Hidupku, as told to Hanna Rambe, Jakarta: Sinar Harapan, 1983.

    [17] Inggit Ganarsih, Kuantar ke Gerbang, as told to Ramadhan K.H., Jakarta: Sinar Harapan, 1988.

    [18] Lasmidjah Hardi, Lasmidjah Hardi: Perjalanan Tiga Zaman, as told to Irna HN Hadi Soewito, Sri Riris Wahyu Widati and Julius Pour, Jakarta: Grasindo, 1997.

    [19] Rachmawati Soekarno, Bapakku, ibuku, Jakarta: Departemen Penerbitan Buku, Garuda Metropolitan Press, 1984, p. 12.

    [20] Sujatin Kartowijono, Mencari makna hidupku, as told to Hanna Rambe. Jakarta: Sinar Harapan, 1983.

    [21] Sulistina Soetomo, Bung Tomo, Suamiku, Jakarta: Pustaka Sinar Harapan, 1995, p. viii.

    [22] Poeradisastra, S.I., 'Sekapur Sirih,' in Kuantar ke Gerbang Inggit Garnasih, Jakarta: Sinar Harapan, 1988.

    [23] Herlina, Bangkit dari Dunia Sakit, Jakarta: Grafitipers, 1986, p. 2.

    [24] Ramadhan K.H., Rojan Revolusi, Djakarta: Gunung Agung, 1971; Ramadhan K.H., Keluarga Permana, Jakarta: Pustaka Jaya, 1978; Soeharto, Soeharto: Pikiran, Ucapan, dan Tindakan Saya: Otobiografi, as told to G. Dwipayana and Ramadhan K.H., Jakarta: Citra Lamtoro Gung Persada, 1989.

    25 Herlina, Pending Emas, Jakarta: Gunung Agung, 1985 (revised edition), p. viii.

    [26] Julia Suryakusuma, 'State and Sexuality in New Order Indonesia,' in Fantasizing the Feminine in Indonesia, ed. Laurie J. Sears, Durham: Duke University Press, 1996, pp. 100-05.

    [27] Michel Foucault, 'Preface to transgression,' in Language, Counter-memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews by Michel Foucault, ed. Donald F. Bouchard, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977, pp. 29-52.

    [28] Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983.

    [29] Saskia Wieringa, Penghancuran Gerakan Perempuan di Indonesia, Jakarta: Kalyanamitra, 1999.

    [30] Barbara Hatley, 'New Directions in Indonesian Women's Writing? The Novel of Saman,' in Asian Studies Review, vol. 23, no. 4 (1999), pp. 449-60, p. 451.

    [31] Barbara Hatley, "New Directions," p. 455.

    [32] Evelyn Blackwood, 'Tombois in West Sumatra: Constructing masculinity and erotic desire,' in Cultural Anthropology, vol. 13, no. 4, 1998, pp. 491-521.

    [33] Deirdre Lashgari, 'Introduction,' in Violence, Silence, and Anger: Women's Writing as Transgression, ed. Lashgari, Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995, pp. 1-21.

    [34] Michel Foucault, A Preface to Transgression, p. 35.

    [35] George Bataille, Erotism: Death and Sensuality, San Francisco: City Light Books, 1986, p. 63, cited in Audrone Zukauskaite, 'Transgression in a Sentimental Style,' in Eurozine, online, 2003, date accessed 4 April 2004.

    [36] Battaile, Erotism: Death and Sensuality, p. 63.

    [37] Suzanne Guerlac, 'Transgression in Theory: Genius and the Subject of La Révolution du langage Poétic,' in Ethics, Politics, and Difference in Julia Kristeva"s Writing, ed. Kelly Oliver, New York and London: Routledge, 1993, pp. 238-57, p. 240.

    [38] Herlina, Pending Emas, Jakarta: Gunung Agung, 1965; Herlina, Pending Emas (edisi yang direvisi), Jakarta: Gunung Agung, 1985.

    [39] Herlina, Bangkit, p. 86.

    [40] Herlina, Bangkit, p. 91.

    [41] Herlina, Bangkit, p. 93.

    [42] Herlina, Bangkit, p. 92.

    [43] Herlina, Bangkit, p. 75.

    [44] Herlina, Bangkit, p. 79.

    [45] Herlina, Bangkit, p. 77.

    [46] Herlina, Bangkit, p. 96.

    [47] Herlina, Bangkit, p. 97.

    [48] Herlina, Bangkit, pp. 103-04, 108-09.

    [49] Herlina, Bangkit, p. 109.

    [50] Herlina, Bangkit, p. 109.

    [51] Herlina, Bangkit, p. 110.

    [52] Herlina, Bangkit, p. 115.

    [53] Inggit Garnasih, Kuantar ke Gerbang, as told to Ramadhan K.H., Jakarta: Sinar Harapan, 1988, pp. 29-30.

    [54] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 5.

    [55] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 7.

    [56] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 7.

    [57] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 8.

    [58] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 21.

    [59] Garnasih, Kuantar, pp. 21-22.

    [60] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 22.

    [61] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 16.

    [62] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 24.

    [63] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 24.

    [64] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 24.

    [65] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 27.

    [66] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 28.

    [67] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 27.

    [68] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 27.

    [69] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 32.

    [70] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 32.

    [71] Fatmah (also Fatimah or Fatmawati) was a daughter of Soekarno"s friends. Fatmah"s parents asked Soekarno to help their daughter with her education. Fatmah finally stayed with Inggit and Soekarno for some time. Fatmah was often known by some people as another adopted daughter of Inggit and Soekarno besides Ratna Djuami and Poppy. In this text, it is also mentioned that Inggit considers Fatmah her own daughter. Please note here that in Indonesia, the notion of adoption is usually informal, not legal.

    [72] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 241.

    [73] Garnasih, Kuantar, pp. 242-43.

    [74] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 248.

    [75] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 292.

    [76] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 286.

    [77] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 291.

    [78] Garnasih, Kuantar, p. 293.

    [79] Poeradisastra, 'Sekapur Sirih,' p. ix.

    [80] From a traditional Javanese saying about loyal wives: "Naraka katut, suarga nunut" [Carried to hell and following to heaven], which was retained by the New Order.

    [81] Poeradisastra, "Sekapur Sirih," p. ix.

    [82] Garnasih, back-cover.

    [83] Ramadhan, K.H. "Pengantar," in Inggit Garnasih, Kuantar ke Gerbang, as told to Ramadhan K.H., Jakarta: Sinar Harapan, 1988, p. vi.

    [84] Jacques Lacan, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, Tavistock: Routledge, 1992, p. 177.


This paper was originally published in Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, with the assistance of Murdoch University.

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