Kartini, her life might be short, but her spirit lives the longest time than any Indonesian Woman ever lived. She died very young, at the age 24, shortly after gave birth her only son.
She was the leader of her female sibling in her ‘royal’ family, in a district in of Java aristocracy. Seven years after Kartini passed away her thoughts; feelings and her dreams for were shared to the world. She was no longer a leader of her female siblings; she is a leader for women all over the Archipelago, especially educated women in early independent era of Indonesia.
To the world Kartini has been acknowledge for her trueness, and genuine concerns. In an introduction of 1920 publishing Kartini Letter of Javanese Princess , AGNES LOUISE SYMMERS wrote: “In them the old truth of the oneness of humanity is once more made manifest and we see that the magnificent altruism, the spirit of inquiry, and the almost morbid desire for self-searching and analysis that characterize the opening years of the Twentieth Century were not peculiar to Europe or to America, but were universal and belonged to the world, to the East as well as to the West.“
Kartini was a very passionate woman, a very creative and attractive in her way to embraced honesty and sincerity. Her passion is not only with things that she loved, also with anything that relate to life and people. She was very passionate when she has a time to talk about sculptor of whom she sometimes ordered for her friends abroad. She was very passionate when talk about how she wanted for Indonesian women to be independent. She talked about how people in the village are the people who lived very simple life but they can create piece of arts. It was Kartini who took seriously about art of common people, encourage them to increase their ability and gave the order to made goods from her friends abroad. It was Kartini, the first woman, the pioneer who dare to think and act as she did, when no one dare to think as hers, even more to speak up her mind like Kartini did, it make her a great woman ever.
Kartini has always been concern other than herself, if she concerned about herself she was in awe that maybe what her act will bother or disturb other people. Although she then did many of those things she feared, it was what she was done mostly for others, even it only in her speech, or her dreams, or her hopes. She mostly mention if or when women done these, have chanced to do these or those thing it will be good for community for people and for the Nation.
That is why she often criticized any action that might degrade and create disadvantage for women or people. Most of Kartini statements were empirical and most of her judgments of critics base on facts, morality and politics in principle.
Kartini has tremendous opportunity yet had to face the great obstacles herself. It might be that her privilege in one side is her curse on the other. As part of Javanese aristocrat Kartini had a chance to know Western education (Latin alphabets, and could read, and learnt Dutch Language), yet Javanese culture still consider women have not rights to educated, especially western education. Bu Kartini was an exeption in many fate of her lives. Her ancestor has started exercised the rights given by The Colonial government. To have education, a western education. Her father started to send his daughters to school to get education. Kartini’s father, Adipati Sostroningrat, was one of the pioneers for his advance for Indonesian women. It all cost many: sacrifice, conflict and rumours among aristocrats during his times (1880s).
And gain, Kartini, whe she reached 12 years old, had to stop what she like the most, her study. She had to stop schooling. And she had to live inside her family house and had to learn to behave of becoming an adult aristocrat. She lived in vain. For all her childhood has open up herself of other world, other thought, other situation outside her world, and yet she has to stop and buried herself inside a house. Fortunately her loving father gave her a substitute for her sorrow, by giving her and bought books, magazine and hired a tutor. Also Kartini had a chance to meet her father colleagues and friends. Out of that Kartini has chosen several to be her long lasting best friends (Mrs.Rosa Abendanon and Mrs.Ovink Stoer).
Almost all any issue in life were written by Kartini. Kartini speak her mind after she discussed with friends, reading and through her experienced. She talked about arts and cultures; education; religion; class; violence; injustice; social; politics and economic. No wonder her letters are inspires many to wrote out of her thought. And Iam proud as her follower, I can claim that her struggle is the most comprehensive and complete resistence to patriarchal. She spoke her methods and act upon it. She fight with words and do the words. I may say she was unlike a suffragettes in UK, and first wave feminist in US who fight for women’s vote, of whom mostly concetrate in education and politics. Kartini do many things, thought many things, and mostly what she said more than hundred years still relevance in today’s world. And as Nusantarawati, Iam glad that Kartini saw there were nobility in Nusantara’s culture yet, she too did not doubt to criticize what not noble.
Fight for Others
At the time of Kartini lives, how many women with the same status and privilege who fight for others. Very few. Why. It will ruin their privilege, and might harm the family. But she continued to fights and spoken her mind. Sometimes her father will warn her to behave. But it was Kartini who for people in nowdays who did not understand her circumstances might find her surrender to her situation. Many sees her surrendered to polygamy, and to pingitan system: a system in which girl has to stay at home most of the time and doesn’t permit to associate with outside the home environment. But those acts not surrendered. She continue fight in her own way. Kartini read and write at her room, during her pingitan. Her father bought her books, magazine of different languange, most in Dutch. She absord knowledge by herself. She mirror many stories to Javanese people existences. She mirror her reading of Hilda van Suylenburg character of a novel by Mevrouw Goekoop, a novel about a women emancipation.
Kartini’s said of her pingitan experienced: When I reached the age of twelve, I was kept at home–I must go into the “box.” I was locked up, and cut off from all communication with the outside world, toward which I might never turn again save at the side of a bridegroom, a stranger, an unknown man whom my parents would choose for me, and to whom I should be betrothed without my own knowledge.
How I passed through that time, I do not know. I only know that it was terrible. But there was one great happiness left me: the reading of Dutch books and correspondence with Dutch friends was not forbidden. This–the only gleam of light in that empty, sombre time, was my all, without which, I should have fallen, perhaps, into a still more pitiable state. My life, my soul even, would have been starved. But then came my friend and my deliverer–the Spirit of the Age; his footsteps echoed everywhere. Proud, solid ancient structures tottered to their foundation at his approach. Strongly barricaded doors sprang open, some as of themselves, others only painfully half way, but nevertheless they opened, and let in the unwelcome guest.(Letter of Javanese princess p.9)
And at the age of a teenage girl, Kartini seize the new experience and always longing for freedom, freedom that has never been known for women and most of Indonesian/Nusantara people at the time of colonialism. But unlike teenage girls now, who almost have no problem in expressing themselves, Kartini, a rebelian aristocrat wrote: For the first time in our lives we were allowed to leave our native town, and to go to the city where the festivities were held in honour of the occasion. What a great and priceless victory it was! That young girls of our position should show themselves in public was here an unheard-of occurrence.The “world” stood aghast; tongues were set wagging at the unprecedented crime. Our European friends rejoiced, and as for ourselves, no queen was so rich as we. But I am far from satisfied. I would go still further, always further. I do not desire to go out to feasts, and little frivolous amusements. That has never been the cause of my longing for freedom. I long to be free, to be able to stand alone, to study, not to be subject to any one, and, above all, never, never to be obliged to marry.
But when Kartini get older, more mature than in her teenage days, Kartini have to marry, and she married. As her respect and love for her father, and yet she didnt know that her husband already have 3 wifes.