There are a number of reasons why I decided to contribute to this blog. One of them was because sometimes I find myself in a no-(wo)man’s land when it comes to media portrayals of Indonesian Muslim women in general.
Years ago, I came across this meme about hijabs. The image on the bottom left struck me as a familiar stereotype of Indonesian women, one that is most especially notable in the Middle East: that of the lowly-educated housemaids. My mother, who travels to Saudi Arabia on a regular basis, comes across this stereotyping every now and then when shop assistants ignore her inquiry and serve another Arab-looking customer instead. The “Indonesian maid” image is also prevalent in Malaysia and Singapore. Basically, if you’re Malay-looking and wears a plain-looking hijab, there is a fair chance that you will be mistaken for a housemaid at some point in your life (yes, I’m saying this based on my personal experience).