Muslim Country All Twisted Up Over Radical ‘Orgasm Lady’

Ryan Pickrell | China/Asia Pacific Reporter

A human rights activist with an unusual nickname is making waves in Indonesian society by advocating sexual liberation and gender equality.

Firliana Purwanti, AKA ‘The Orgasm Lady,’ is a 39-year-old feminist operating out of Jakarta. She promotes female sexual pleasure to raise awareness about female empowerment and gender inequality in Indonesia’s patriarchal society, reports the Straits Times.

Firliana rose to prominence after the release of her book on the female orgasm, “The O Project,” in 2010. Her publication quickly became Indonesia’s best-selling feminist book. She is said to be working on another book for 2018.

Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, with roughly 90 percent of its population of 240 million identifying as followers of Islam. Firliana was raised as a Muslim woman.

In a country where it is taboo to talk about such things, Firliana speaks openly about sex to tear down cultural barriers. Her mission is to contribute to the building of a society that accepts female sexuality and doesn’t determine the value of a woman based on whether or not she is a virgin.

Indonesia reportedly considers the status of a woman’s virginity relevant to whether or not she can become a police officer or graduate high school, Firliana wrote in an article for The Guardian last year.

“Our morality is being watched through our vaginas,” Firliana explained to the Straits Times. She asked, “Why can’t women choose to enjoy sex when they think they are ready without hesitation?”

Since the late 1990s, local governments in Indonesia have been adopting discriminatory policies against women under the guise of combating immorality, yet they have been turning a blind eye to polygamy and male sexual exploits.

Firliana’s feminist views are radical given the location of and cultural norms surrounding her campaign. She argues that a woman’s “existence as a human being is denied” when her sexual happiness is ignored. Firliana explained in her 2015 article, “My ambition is for all women to have orgasms, because that’s the ultimate indicator they are empowered.”

Indonesia’s feminist movement is not only about sex; it is also about politics. Firliana believes that sex, gender inequality, and politics are all directly connected. She sees a growing need for an increase in the number of women involved in Indonesian politics. She asserts, “Power imbalance is rape. Rape is not about desire, but about someone who feels superior forcing his urges on the inferior one.”

Firliana has influenced gender policies and mentored female politicians. She hopes to eventually run for office to reshape Indonesian society from the top down.

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