Falling into the Lesbi World
Desire and Difference in Indonesia
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
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Ever since I began to study anthropology it has been my fervent desire to do a project such as this one. During my dissertation research in West Sumatra, I realized I had a site for the project, and then with the support of a Fulbright grant, I was able to return to Indonesia to conduct the fieldwork...
Chapter One: Gender, Sexuality, and Queer Desires
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My research associate and I dropped by the small apartment of a lesbi couple in Padang one afternoon. We had been chatting with them for a few minutes when suddenly Robi, the tomboi partner, said to h/er girlfriend Noni, “Sis, go make some tea for them!”...
Chapter Two: Shifting Discourses of Gender and Desire
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Contemporary Indonesian discourses create an image of innate gender difference in which modern women are oriented to domestic and wifely tasks, while men are encouraged to be heads of households and active leaders in the public domain. These discourses, which offer no state-sanctioned place for tombois or their girlfriends, set the norms for two distinct, socially defined categories of gender, woman and man...
Chapter Three: Learning to Be Boys and Girls
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When I asked tombois at what point they first became aware of being tombois, or of liking boys’ things, their answers were generally consistent: “Since I was little,” “since first grade,” or “in elementary school.” One tomboi declared, “I was always a tomboi.” Another said, “Growing up, I never felt like a girl,” disallowing...
Chapter Four: Doing Gender
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About ten o’clock on a Sunday morning my research associate and I went to see Robi, a tomboi, and Noni, h/er girlfriend, at their new place. They rent three small rooms in a one-story, somewhat dilapidated boarding house (rumah kos)...
Chapter Five: Desire and Difference
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Noni, who is divorced and has one child, has been with her tomboi lover, Robi, for nearly two years. When I asked Noni about her earlier relationships, she told me the following story...
Chapter Six: Ambiguities in Family, Community, and Public Spaces
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Tombois are female-bodied individuals who lay claim to the social category “man,” by which I mean the ideologically dominant conception of manhood that circulates through much of Indonesia. In this chapter I look at the particular practices they perform in relation to socially significant others across household, community, and public spaces...
Chapter Seven: Translocal Queer Connections
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Located in a regional metropolis, tombois and their girlfriends participate in and reflect the hegemonic Indonesian ideology of sex/gender. This ideology is crosscut by a number of discourses, but the focus in this chapter is on national and transnational queer discourses with their progressive narrative of the development of modern sexual identities...
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Publication Year: 2010