On Men’s Jokes to Candid Picture Perverts

I get along very well with my male colleagues, mostly because I have pretty good understanding on how men are: what goes on their heads when they see a curvy girl, their body language when they are attracted to an opposite sex, and types of jokes they throw at lunch breaks. Sexist jokes? I’m used to them and I often play along without hesitation because I have known these guys for quite some time. I can laugh with them over their dirty jokes; and I even tell my dirty jokes and they would laugh with me. Why do I put myself in such ‘low’ conversations, you may ask? I don’t. I only do that with men I know well. Men I feel comfortable being with. Men I know will never cross the line without my consent. Men who never harass me because they know I will never allow them to do so. Men who are well aware that even if they do tease me sexually, I would do the same to them. This is Indonesia, anyway. People throw rough jokes from time to time with no harm done.

But men are men. Sometimes they can’t hold themselves. I can’t remember how many times I have felt annoyed, even angered, when my male colleagues do their male stuff with women who are not their wives in places flocked by men like them. Karaoke lounges, for example. A few years ago, my colleagues (men and women) and I went to a famous karaoke place after work. The so called premium package we purchased included three female lady escorts whose job was to make sure the guests were satisfied. Yep. ‘Satisfaction’ in that place expanded beyond tapping on the karaoke screen to choose songs and mixing our Coke with spirit; it also meant my male colleagues had the liberty to touch any of those escorts, even make out with them during the booked slot. That was the last time I went to such a place. I felt sick.

Even after I moved to another company, some men in the new company also exhibit a similar habit. Some of them are people I call friends. Sometimes, as friends, they would ask me to join them to chill out after work. Sometimes, as their friend, I would hang out with them, but only after I make sure we’d go to places I’d say yes to: an escort-free family karaoke or cafe. As wild as I may seem to be, I just can’t allow myself to see my male friends objectify female strangers the way they do in those shady places. It bothers me, of course; I wish they would stop doing that one day, but it’s their lives and I have no interest in meddling with their ‘behind-door’ businesses.

Going to a shady karaoke or shady spa parlor is one thing, taking pictures of a lady candidly then going on sharing the pictures with friends with a main purpose to objectify that unknowing woman is another. It disgusts me when men do this. Even if the lady wears a blouse that shows most of her cleavage, or shorts so short they reveal her thighs, what gives them right to take her picture without her consent? Not just that, some men even upload such candid pictures in a chat room. They may think it is funny, and yes, some people respond with grinning emojis and stuff, but I find this behavior repulsive. To me, this is harassment, albeit being done in a closed group where the objectified woman may never know she is being objectified.

I will not go on to discuss the laws in this country in regard to non-consensual picture sharing (yes, people may actually go to jail if found guilty). I just want these perverts to start asking these questions: What if this happens to your wives or daughters. What if a random guy posts a picture of your daughter’s butt online without her knowledge? Would you laugh?

Bu Toa’s Scrubs

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Pak Markita (‘Pak’ = Mr.) works in a hotel in Bali as a Food & Beverage supervisor. It has been ten years and business is at the lowest point. As many other hoteliers, his monthly income is partly determined by a service charge, which hasn’t shown a silver lining in the past five months, following dropping number of visitors to the island. He receives less than he did a year ago by 20 to 30 percent, which is why he is forced to think ways to make extra money. After a number of attempts did not seem to work as expected, from selling hookah coals to restaurants and night clubs to have a double job as a karaoke bar manager in the evening, Pak Markita starts to share his burden with his wife, hoping she can offer some ideas.

Bu Markita (‘Bu’ = Mrs. or Ms.) is a housekeeper in a hotel. As in her husband’s case, monthly income has also been affected quite significantly since the beginning of the year. They have two young children and the cost of living as Balinese where traditions are unavoidable and religious ceremonies are frequent and cost a lot of money can be overwhelming at times. She, too, has to squeeze her brain, thinking of how to make ends meet. Now, in their bedroom, lying in bed, her husband – usually stoic and dominant – speaks to her as if the sun will not rise tomorrow. For the next hour, they talk not only about what to sell, but also about what to do. Borrowing money from a relative will only put their family in further stress. Selling their only car will also put their family in distress in the long run. Selling her husband’s old moped will only save the family for less than a month. Moving to her parents’ house and renting their family home is not an option, especially for Pak Markita, because his pride as the man in the house just won’t allow it.

Then she comes up with an idea, albeit self-doubtedly: spa scrubs. She knows a company owner that does spa products, and she has been using this scrub cream for a month because it is fairly cheap and she feels her skin softened. That particular brand is not as well known as Brand X or Y, but it has met all the official registry and requirements. It also uses natural ingredients, something that matters nowadays. The product is also easy to apply. She can scrub her legs and armpits while watching TV. It does not feel as sticky as similar products sold in supermarkets, and she can sweeps the dirt easily off the floor after the scrubbing is done.

Pak Markita immediately feels uneasy. He has never sold any products that are specifically designed to target women. Nonetheless, he knows it is time for him to look to that direction. His mind start to weigh in and map out strategies. His wife gets up and goes to the kitchen. She prepares coffee for both of them, feeling that it is going to be a long night.

“Who do you think is the worst gossiper in the neighborhood?” Pak Markita’s voice breaks the silence in the house. His wife cannot believe what she just heard. She returns to the bedroom with a tray in her hands. Hot Bali coffee and fried tofu from this afternoon are served.

“Why do you want to know?” she says, losing grounds to where the conversation will lead.

“Just tell me. I’ll tell you why later.” Pak Markita sips his coffee.

“Well, there are some gossipers out there,” Bu Markita says.

“The worst one!” says her husband, chewing tofu in his mouth.

“It should be Bu Toa. She’s the worst of the worst. She can gossip morning to sunset.” says Bu Markita.

Pak Markita grins. Bu Markita’s forehead frowns, demanding explanation.

“Do you still have the unopened pot of that scrubs?” The man says. His eyes flicker.

“Well, yes. I bought two and have only used one of them. Why?” The lady starts to lose her patience. Her coffee starts to lose its heat.

“Give the unopened pot of scrubs to her. Give it to Bu Toa tomorrow. For free. Sell what good the scrubs do to you, but don’t sell it for money yet,” Pak Markita says with determination.

“What if she insists on paying?” his wife says.

“Don’t let her,” he says, finishing all the tofus on the plate, and gulping his coffee. “She’s the worst gossiper, right? If she pays and she thinks the product is bad, she will tell the world about how bad it is, and you will not sell anything because the other women will listen to her. If the product turns out bad for her, at least she will not say anything because she knows she’s got it for free.”

Bu Markita giggles, but she knows her husband may be right. It is a worth trying experiment. That scrubs will go to Bu Toa first thing in the morning. The middle aged couple finish their coffee, and contrary to the belief about the effect of coffee, they sleep soundly and snore that night.

It’s the next day. Pak Markita drops his oldest to school and goes to work. Bu Markita drops by at Bu Toa’s house with her younger son. She pretends she needs to ask her if she knows where to order yellow rice for her boss’s birthday. After that, she presents the scrub cream, with coffee aroma, to her unexpected neighbor, telling her it is free. Bu Toa pretends to protest, but keeps her gift eventually, and thankfully. Bu Markita goes on to drop off her son at her parents’ house and off to work.

A week passes and nothing happens in the Markitas household. On the eight day, a neighbor from the next block knocks on their door. She asks if she can buy a pot of scrub cream. Pak Markita purchased a set of 12 pots of scrubs days before, each with a different aroma. His wife now presents all of the 12 pots in front of the neighbor who ends up buying two of them. The next day, she sells another two to a different neighbor. On the third day of the selling, it is Bu Toa who shows up at her door, taking her sister. Bu Toa boasts that her husband has been complementing the glow on her skin after using the scrubs and now she wants to buy the jasmine variant. Her sister buys three pots, saying she will keep one and give out the rest to her colleagues at work. She asks if it is possible to be a reseller of the product. Yes! Of course! On the next day, Pak Markita has to restock his wife’s ‘shop’. Bu Markita is overjoyed. Not only has she successfully sold all of her scrubs, she now has six resellers at almost zero marketing cost. Bu Toa, the worst of gossipers in the neighborhood, has become her best marketing agent!

Both the Markitas are still struggling to make ends meet, but this time with a more positive outlook. With their scrubs, they now look into their work places for possibilities. They know they only need to find one person in each circle to make the plan work: the worst gossiper!

How to Cut Monthly Expenses

#killerpost (1)

A recent worthwhile purchase has forced me to rethink about my monthly expenses. Since the purchase was a major one and I had been dreaming about, ok… it was a house!, I willingly comply to a little adjustment to my monthly budget, and perhaps, slightly to my lifestyle. I need to save more money because I need to buy a lot of stuff for my house. Here are the things I do to cut my monthly expenses.

  • I buy clothing items online. I even buy clothes every other month now. Fortunately, I am not a brand-minded person. I can get a similar or even better quality dress than a branded one online. Even a branded bra can be half priced online if you don’t mind not having the newest edition. Besides, have you considered a hidden cost of buying your clothes from a physical store in a mall? Cost like rental that may be added to price tags by percentiles? I don’t know how the system works, but that possibility really bugs me. With online shops, you can always compare prices before buying.
  • I stopped buying coffee from Starbuck’s because I can always get better coffee much cheaper. Let’s be honest. Theirs looks stylish on Instagram, but the price you pay is not only for the coffee, but also for the logo and space rental.
  • I gave up visits to my favorite nail salon and do my own nail. I purchased a manicure set a while ago, and every Sunday morning, I do my nail rituals. I don’t polish my finger nails; just trim, smooth the edges, and shine them. I usually do extra with my feet: softening up the calluses and paint the nails properly at the end.
  • I reduced eating out especially on week days and started eating in office’s cafetaria. If the food there sucks, I set a limited budget for delivery from nearby warungs.
  • Unfortunately, I don’t live in my house at the moment because it is located in my hometown while I work in a different island. It means: apartment/house rental. The one I live in now costs me IDR 1.5 millions (about USD 120) monthly. If I want to save significantly, I need to start looking for a cheaper place. I have not found a decent place to move into at a lower price than I have to pay right now. I’m still looking.
  • I quit smoking. … … … Nah, I lied. But it is something I’ve been considering because I can save almost IDR 700,000 a month!

Do you have any other ideas for me?

#KillerPost #NotTheSeries

#killerpost

I recently watched a TV program called #killerpost on my favorite channel CI (Crime & Investigation). The use of “#” on the title indicates that the series has something to do with social media. The fact that it is aired on CI and the term”killer” say what it is about  quite lierally: real cases where simple clicks on social media turn into murders.

Don’t get your hopes too high, though, I am not writing about #killerpost the tv program, although it is clearly correlated, but I am certain what I’m going to share is relatable to our daily social media habits. The internet seems to affect our lives and our relationships with others, more than we may expect. For better or worse.

Let me ask you these:

  1. How often do you feel irritated by your contacts’ posts to the point that you think this isn’t right and you have to say something?
  2. How many contacts have you unfriended?
  3. How many times have you reported a post or an account?

I have my answers:

  1. Too often, at least once a day in the past month.
  2. One in the past month.
  3. At least five, in the past month.

Now, you may think that most of those annoying posts are political or religious in nature. That may be right, given that this country’s political & religion-related tensions has been escalating, starting from the pre-Jakarta provincial elections to the aftermath of the governor’s 2-year sentence for blasphemy, a decision that has split the nation like never before. People figuratively kill each other with posts and comments to a post.

Let us not talk about it, at least not yet. Let’s go into more generic things we, social media citizens, decide to post. What we assume to be an innocent party picture can be harmful in the eye of some beholders. Somebody may feel left out and this can potentially lead to an open argument. I saw it happen. A jealous wife who goes beserk after seeing a photo of her hubby with female colleagues (I received a plea from such a husband to take down a picture I shared online). An employee who receives warning from a company after posting a disgruntled statement about a delayed payday. A daughter who needs to clarify to the public after being targeted for her celebrity mother’s Twitter rants. An angry girl whose insensitive Facebook post blamed a religious ritual for a traffic she was stuck into gets ousted from the region by angrier crowds. We have witnessed or read such ‘killerpost’ cases.

Family, company, society. At least these three should be our warning alarm when it comes to posting stuff on social media. Is it safe for my family? Does my family want to see this? Is it safe for my work? What will my boss say if he sees my post? Is it safe for my social welfare if I post this? Or will a certain group of people attack me? Will I be ready to deal with them? This applies not only to images or statuses you originally post, but also to your comments to someone else’s posts and what you repost online, thanks to confusing social media algorithms that decide what goes and what does not go to your contacts’ timelines.

We may be able to control what we post, but we can’t control what other people post. As the saying goes: bla… bla… bla…., but you can control your reaction. Your reaction is what you decide to do or not do after seeing a post that triggers a certain emotion in you. It’s totally everybody’s call. Human to human relationships can be hurt by killerposts. Some people have big hearts, they can easily forgive and forget. Some others take on the angry rants lane and get involved in long, exhausting battles of arguments online. There are  also people who do silent abandonment; they are familiar to ‘mute’, ‘unfollow’, ‘unfriend’, and ‘block’ features. I recently fell into the 3rd. I have unfollowed a few people because of the extreme nature of their posts: contacts who posted hatred toward others, those who shared pictures of dead bodies, and those who shared hoaxes (doesn’t matter whether they were aware if they were hoaxes). People with these gravity magnet tendencies. Even if you share the same religion as I do, believe in the same political figures as I do, and share a similar cause, if I detect an extreme or fanatic pattern in your posts that go beyond my logic, I may still unfollow you for my own good.