Oleh: Fiqih Aisyatul Farohah, M.Hum. (Dosen Tetap Institut Agama Islam Tarbiyatut Tholabah Lamongan)
The meaning of gender given by the dictionary refers to sex or gender, whereas sex refers to reproductive functions. Gender is not related to reproductive functions. All humans in a space shape culture as a gender system, a symbolic system, or a system of meanings that connects sex to cultural content according to social values and hierarchies. The gender-sex system is a socio-cultural construction and a semiotic tool, a system of representation that gives meaning to individuals in society. The construction of gender is fundamentally caused by heterosexual discourse. Gender is a politics that then develops into body politics (Lauretis 1987, p. 4).
Judith Butler says gender is performative acts. Gender is like a performance with repeated actions, not something that is stagnant, but can change at any time. Gender is shaped to follow a model of truth and falsehood that serves as gender control and helps regulate social policy (Butler 1988, p. 528).
Gender is not innate; it is a fluid, uncertain process characterized by contestation, ambivalence, and change. The approach used places gender in the interrelated ideological and material realms of a dynamic, modernized territory (Ong and Peletz 1995, p. 1). Gender can be shaped or changed depending on place, ethnicity, race, nation, culture, social status, ideology, religious understanding, law, economy, politics, time, and era (Sumaryati 2018, p. 215).
Gender distinctions in society result in constructs that condition women biologically to be socio-culturally feminine. Based on this construct, a woman is obliged to act like a socio-cultural woman (Butler 1988, p. 525). This means that the values and norms of society govern a woman (feminine). Women must project themselves to gain positive value from the society around them. This is what Butler refers to as performative action.
In addition, there are several forms of gender injustice, including stereotyping, marginalization, subordination, double burden, and violence. Stereotyping (labeling) is a negative view or labeling of someone because of a particular gender. Marginalization is the cornering and restriction of a person based on gender both economically and socially despite having a very large role.
Subordination means a view of gender that places women’s roles as second-class or less important. Double burden is a view and action that considers a particular gender to have a domestic role as well as an additional breadwinner. Violence means verbal and physical attacks that affect the psychology, health, and safety of a particular gender, especially women. The last is exploitation, which is the utilization, utilization, extortion, and exploitation of a person based on gender for certain interests (Sumaryati 2018, p. 216; Rokhimah 2014, pp. 141-143).
One of the important teachings of Islam in educating children is to educate without distinguishing between genders. As creatures of God, who have the same potential content, boys and girls need to be educated without differences in treatment. With relatively equal treatment, the potential of boys and girls as Muslim and Muslimah human beings can develop optimally without being hampered by gender differences.
The Quran places women as noble figures. Ten suras discuss women. The two most widely known suras are Surah An-Nisa’ (An-Nisa’ Al-Kubra) and Surah Al-Talaq (Al-Nisa’ Al-Sughra). Other surahs include Al-Baqarah, Al-Ma’idah, Al-Nur, Al-Ahzab, Al-Mumtahanah and Al-Tahrim. In addition, there are one hundred mentions of women in twenty suras. Some traditions contain many descriptions of women (Ramli 2010, p. 50). This means that the Quran does not discredit women or position women below men. In other words, the Quran contains a balance or equality between men and women. Thus, both men and women have the same rights, especially in the public domain.