Language has the power to shape our understanding about the world. It’s a cultural, political, and psychological tool that impacts our psyche and the way we relate to people around us. But who gets to decide the meaning of the words we use?

In the official Indonesian dictionary, the word “woman” (or perempuan) is listed among compound words that mean “whore”, “evil”, “mistress”, “pervert”, and many other terms that give the concept of “woman” a derogatory and sexualised connotation.

The dictionary entry for “man” (or laki), on the other hand, only contains two examples of compound words: “masculine” and “courage”.

On this episode, Dwitri Amalia speaks to Ika Vantiani, a visual artist from Indonesia who has been pushing the Language and Book Development Agency to revise the entry for “woman” in the Indonesian dictionary to have more neutral and inclusive connotations.

Please note that this episode contains some foul language that some listeners may find offensive.

Dwitri Amalia

Dwitri Amalia is a freelance producer from Jakarta, Indonesia. She spent six years in academia thinking she was going to pursue a career as an economist to research on poverty reduction, but she realised her calling is in the arts. She ended up working in film festivals in Amsterdam (CinemAsia Film Festival, World Cinema Amsterdam), managed an arts centre in Jakarta (Salihara Arts Center), and directed a communication consulting business for non-profit organisations (Communication for Change). She co-founded Ramuan Studio in 2020, on its way to its first short film project. To this date, she has produced an ethnographic documentary (The Way We Watch TV, 2015) and an audio drama (Pinangan, 2020). You can reach her at dwitri@gmail.com.

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