The Social Role

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The allegation of sexual harassment during the fit and proper test which has been done by four parliament members to the Indonesian Broadcasting commissioner (candidate –at that time), has been reported. The National Committee for Women has delivered this allegation to the Honorary Council, so that they would investigate this case. I will leave the harassment allegation behind, and would talk about it later, but I would like to talk about the questions which were being reported as harassing and inappropriate.

It started when the Committee I held a fit and proper test to choose the commissioner for the Indonesian Broadcasting Committee. During the test, the examiner threw some personal remarks and questions to one of the candidate, Agatha Lily, such as whether she had been married; how many times she had gone to spa; that she was pretty and whether they should exchange mobile phone number.

The National Committee for Women thought that these questions and remarks were very much degrading, and humiliating. The parliament members who were being accused for the allegation disagreed and said that their remarks were merely banters between friends who had known each other for some times. Agatha Lily herself, said in an interview that she did not feel embarrassed nor harassed, and even wondered if being told pretty was supposed to be taken as being harassed.

It is hard to decide whether this is a sexual harassment or maybe a sexual discrimination, especially when the alleged victim has denied the allegation herself. As the harassment accusation needs to be seen from the victim point of view. However, despite Agatha Lily’s statement, I still believe that the personal remarks and questions during the fit and proper test were very much inappropriate.

In our social life, we are carrying more than one social roles. My father for example is a father and a husband at home, a boss in his company, an investor in his friends’ companies, a friend for his buddies, a son to my grandmother, and a taxpayer for the country. My mother, is a mother and a wife at home, the chief in the church congregation in her parish, the boss in her own office, a sister to her siblings, and a daughter in law to my grandmother. However the social role could change when they were in a different social context.

For example: when my mum and my dad were talking business, they should separate the husband and wife role, to the business relation role. When my mum told me to do the office work, she did not ask me as her daughter, but as her employees. When my dad talked business to his friends, he was no longer as a friend but as an investor, and so on.

The incapability to understand how and when to place oneself to a social role would put one out of context. And this is, what I believe, that has happened during the fit and proper test.

The four parliament members told the media that they did it merely because they had known each other, so they were exchanging banters during the fit and proper test. They might not intend to sexually harass Agatha Lily, but they have missed to understand that they were not in the capacity as the friends of this woman, but as the examiners. They failed to understand the social role they were in, thus they couldn’t act appropriate to the context.

It is, of course, affect the professionalism of the parliament members, and Agatha Lily as a commissioner. It might be different if she had refused to answer or told the examiner that the questions and the remarks were inappropriate, although I understand completely that it would be hard to do that when the culture demands you to avoid confrontation, especially when you are a woman in a patriarchal bureaucracy system.

Oh well.. Just a weekend thought. Have a nice one 🙂

P.S. You could read it here too

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