Why Do Indonesian Dictionaries Call Women “Whores”?

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.

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