I was kicking myself last month when I realised that International Women’s Day had crept up on me and that I had no time to prepare a celebratory night out, or at least a rant of some sort to have published.
And the same thing happened to me on Tuesday night. “Do you know it’s Kartini Day tomorrow?” my housemate asked me.
For those of you who don’t know, the late Raden Ajeng Kartini in 1903 established Indonesia’s first primary school for girls that offered an education regardless of social status, and she is still today Indonesia’s most-celebrated feminist.
To honour this pioneer, a little establishment down the road from my place put on an event to raise money to buy books for kids. The idea was to have 21 women behind the bar pouring drinks, as the day is celebrated on April 21, Kartini’s birthday.
But as my housemate and I stepped into the bar, we realised that these ad hoc bartenders were not just ordinary women. These were particularly attractive women, many of whom, we later found out, were professional models and socialites.
The bar was full of men who had come to see the spectacle of 21 hot chicks attempt to pour drinks. Half glasses of wine and glasses of beer with more froth than liquid were excused with wide lipsticked-smiles followed by shy giggles.
Having seen this tedious interaction a million times, we pushed invisibly through the throng of men salivating on the bar and headed upstairs.
Great. A little space for two women to talk about this day and what it means more than 100 years since Kartini’s death. But it wasn’t long until we had the misfortune of meeting a cocky young man, who couldn’t help but perceive my friend’s and my interest in each other’s words as some kind of sexual engagement.
The poor boy tried his very best to elicit some kind of story about a lesbian interaction between my friend and I – it being women’s day and all.
“Come on. You must have had some kind of lesbian experience,” he said. “Don’t you like lesbian porn? Everyone likes lesbian porn. No one likes gay porn, except gay guys.”
An insightful thought for women’s day.
We couldn’t gulp down our bottle of red fast enough. I tried to get the bartender’s attention for the bill, but she was too busy flipping her hair and dancing around in her tight halter-neck top to the merriment of the hordes of men who had followed her upstairs. It took 45 minutes, but we eventually paid and split.
How management thought getting models to serve drinks somehow reflected the values of Kartini beats me. I hope the rest of Indonesia celebrated this special day with a little more thought.