UNAIR lecturer responds to women politicians issue in Indonesia

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Illustration by Feri Fenoria

UNAIR NEWS – “An ideal political battle must be separated from traditional and restrictive gender issues”, said Nurul Fitri Hapsari, S.S., M.A, a lecturer of Faculty of Humanities UNAIR when discussing women and politics in Indonesia. She revealed that the political construction of a gender identity from politicians apparently still affects their self-image in the political struggle.

She elaborated that the election of Governor of East Java in 2018 then was inseparable from the gender identity issue which is still traditional in nature. She even said, the same problem also occurs in the United States. “It turns out that traditional gender role makes women reluctant to participate in the political arena,” she stated.

For example, Khofifah Indar Parawansa. According to Nurul, as a female politician, of course it is not easy to fight for the seat of Governor of East Java which is culturally and historically always dominated by men.

Nurul said, the presence of social media was considered solutive to show the existence of women politicians. “Social media is now considered a political medium very necessary in building the image of a politician’s identity,” she said.

Based on previous research, Khofifah always constructs her image in her social media as a leader with the character and role of women ideal for patriarchal society. “Khofifah even tends to represent himself as the second leader after his deputy who is a man,” she explained.

Furthermore, added Nurul, meme is also a form of millennial political participation. “By combining pop culture and politics, memes are able to direct voters to a construction of political identity that is different from what they have imagined on social media so far,” she said.

Nurul explained that it also happened to the construction of Khofifah’s identity as a Governor of East Java candidate. Based on studies conducted by Nurul, in the existing memes, Khofifah’s maternal identity was constructed with ideal feminine traits but with strong and brave nature of leader like masculine traits.

The fact showed that political arena is still considered for male domination. So to win the political arena, women must borrow masculinity traits. “Millennial voters in Indonesia appear to be more easily affected by popularity in defining the identities of political leaders than the achievements of these leaders,” she concluded.(*)

Author: Erika Eight Novanty

Editor: Khefti Al Mawalia



Nurul Fitri Hapsari et. al. 2019. Memes and millennial voters: Identities of an

Indonesian female political leader. Apción, Año 35, Especial No. 19: 2066-2087

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