Women’s status in rural Java can appear contradictory to those both inside and outside the culture. In some ways, women have high status and broad access to resources, but other situations suggest that Javanese women lack real power and autonomy. Javanese women have major responsibilities in supporting their families and controlling household finances. They may also own and manage their own property. Yet these symbols and potential sources of independence and influence are determined by a culturally prescribed, state-reinforced, patriarchal gender ideology that limits women’s autonomy. Power, Change, and Gender Relations in Rural Java examines this contradiction as well as sources of stability and change in contemporary Javanese gender relations.
The authors conducted their research in two rural villages in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, during three important historical and political periods: the end of the New Order regime; the transitional period of reformation; and the subsequent establishment of a democratic government. Their collaboration brings a unique perspective, analyzing how gender is constructed and reproduced and how power is exercised as Indonesia faces the challenges of building a new social order.