The D Word – A Stigma Story


Last week, on my way home in one of my colleague’s car, another colleague teased him to date our other colleague.

Jendi!” (slang for divorcee/widower) was his immediate response.

Stunned, I just had to dig deeper… “What’s wrong with being a divorcee?” The guy fell silent for a few seconds before quickly saying “Oh, nothing…” but if you were there you’d know that it’s far from nothing.

I can tell he was embarrassed when I told him I’ll become a divorcee myself soon.

You see this is the kind of way of thinking or reactions shadowing plenty of Indonesians. Yes, they would say that divorce is so common now. Local celebrities done it, common people went through it. But then what’s with the negativity?

Many people still think that just because someone is a divorcee then they will immediately seduce your husband’s/boyfriends – wait, this sounds like the old Indonesian movies from the 80s, right? Many still put the blame on the women for choosing to break free from whatever real situations she’s having in her marriage. Whether people like to admit it or not, divorced women are still seen as a bad thing, shameful, a disgrace.

Being mostly patriarchy, for men to be divorced or have more than one wife are considered normal. Double standards, much?

In a country where a lot of women suffers in silence and put up with whatever conditions their husbands put them through just to avoid the shame of carrying that title as ‘divorcee’. It is upsetting to see these kinds of stereotypes albeit not everyone have such a narrow mindset but the fact is this is not the 1950s anymore and I’ve known some really awesome strong, smart, sweet women who went through divorces before.

These days most of the people at my office already know about my status and to be honest, I don’t care anymore. It’s none of their beeswaxes in the first place. My skins still have to grow thicker to ignore those unwanted marital advices from  “Apa nggak sayang punya anak cakep gitu?” (Aren’t you sorry for your handsome son?) downright to “Why can’t you give it another try?”.

Uhm…excuse me?!

Those are the times where I pull my wall up and gave them an empty smile before diverting the conversation to something else or I’ll walk away.

First, of, it’s none of their beeswax for sure. I did not air my ‘drama’ in the office. These people found out somehow about my status and so be it.

Secondly, I do not own any of them any explanation in the first place. No one…really knows for sure but I and I don’t need to justify myself.

Luckily, my family and close friends are all very supportive and to them, I would still be me…Maybe I’ll bear the scars for awhile but I can already feel that I am a much stronger person now than before.

As I’m sailing through this whole process of being a divorcee, I still have much to learn, I might stumble and fall along the way or weep my eyes off but again, what doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger!

What do you think/feel about a divorcee?

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22 thoughts on “The D Word – A Stigma Story

  1. Jill Reply

    I am so sorry you are going through this.

    I am a divorcee and am a stronger, better, wiser person for it.

    You (we all) deserve to have happiness without the judgement of others. It stinks that others believe their judgement is what’s best for you and your son.

    Good for you for speaking out to your coworker. Just because one is divorced (and there is a male side to EVERY divorced female) doesn’t mean they are less of a person.

    Like I said earlier, you (we) are stronger and better for it. Keep your head up and be proud of who and what you are first and foremost. A mom.

  2. Katie Reply

    one of my very best friends just went through a divorce. she is totally broken about it not working out, but she is very independent and will bounce back for sure! Being divorced is not something to be ashamed of, that is for sure!

  3. Mrs.Mayhem Reply

    I’m sure the divorce process is difficult, confusing and stressful. But in my opinion, only you know what is best for your life.

    Unfortunately, people are judgmental. No matter what choices we make in life, there will always be people who don’t approve. We still need to live our lives the best way that we can. It is hard to face disapproval, but it is harder to live a lie.

  4. Tough Cookie Mommy Reply

    Maureen, I have always felt like there was a stigma attached to being a divorced woman. I can honestly say that I felt this after I was divorced from my first husband. People are ignorant and they think that you must have done something really bad to turn your husband away. You are right, it is absolutely none of their business and you certainly don’t owe them any explanations whatsoever. People at my job are very nosy too and I work very hard to maintain my sense of privacy around them. Keep your chin up!

  5. L. Eleana Reply

    I’m so pissed that people are even in your business regarding your status. You’re right it’s none of their business. No one wishes divorce on anyone, but unfortunately marriage takes 2 willing participants. Keep smiling and keep your head up!

  6. Kimberly Reply

    Wow your post brought back lovely memories. I went through the same thing and I’m in America, where the divorce rate is over 50%.

    I got loads of unwanted advice from people who had never been married. My mom kept calling me and asking why I couldn’t forgive the lies, the gambling, the drinking, the verbal abuse. I lost loads of “friends” who chose to believe his lies and not support me.

    I look back now and laugh, because it’s all so silly that in a nation where there are so many people who are divorced, we still get shocked when we hear that someone is divorcing. Granted, I can understand being surprised, but to judge is silly.

    You’re handling yourself with loads of class!!!

  7. Box of Chocolates Reply

    Cannot believe people think it appropriate to give you advise when they are not intimately familiar with your life and what happened. I think you need to get a VERY thick skin. Or move on to another job in another town! (Smile)

  8. ItsyBitsyKC Reply

    Both of my aunts went through divorces, and it really pained me when I see people grill and judge them for ending a marriage – and it was more often than I would have ever expected. It baffles me when people can feel like “it’s their place” to say insensitive things.

    I think most cultures, some more so than others, expect their women to give, give, and give. Putting yourself second for your family, husband, and children is, sadly, expected. Unfortunately, I think that people do place blame on the woman for a divorce more so than a man.

    I hate hearing the “Do it for the children”, too. I always want to ask these people whether they think the person they are lecturing are getting a divorce because it’s fun or the “easy way out”. It is anything but the “easy way out”. You are obviously doing whatever you feel is best for yourself, for your child, and his father, and people who can’t understand that truly baffle me.

  9. Unplanned Cooking Reply

    I love how strong you are. I think divorce is hard and nobody chooses it as “the easy way out.” And I think all societies should spend more time helping people/families mend rather than judging them (that goes way beyond just divorce).

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  11. liz Reply

    who cares what anyone else thinks! you just keep paving the way and doing what’s best for you!

  12. Booyah's Momma Reply

    I think Liz said it best! And you are spot on… it’s none of their beeswax. Keep your chin up, momma… you’re a strong lady, for sure.

  13. Maria Reply

    Yeah…. the stigma attached to a divorcee is painful… I think it’s worse there than in the US. Sometimes I get the impression that an ideal woman is a woman who accept her husband unconditionally, with lots of love and patience, including if he wants to get married to another woman. Urgh…

    What do I think about divorcee? Depends on the woman, on how they carry themselves. Some women, single, married, divorced, do not matter their status, are seducers, but many are not like that, so really depends.

    Wish you strength Maureen.

  14. Andree Reply

    Hey Maureen!

    Great to see you around! I know you’ve been very busy and organizing your new life!

    As for divorce: no shame in that. I can understand that there may be different cultural views, but in the end, you need to be happy, because you got only one life to live!

    Hope all is fine!

  15. MamaOnDaGo Reply

    Who cares what they think? I can’t believe people and their way of thinking sometimes. Energy needs to be focused on healing yourself and taking care of your son. I’m sure there’s a cultural difference between what people think of divorce.

  16. Pop Reply

    I’ve been in numerous conversations among Asian moms where the D word may as well be a Scarlett Letter. It’s ignorant and upsetting, for sure.

    But I have zero worry, absolutely none for your “handsome son.” He has a mother who knew of all the stigmas she’d likely face in Indonesia and still did what she felt was best for her and for her son. One day, he’ll understand and he’ll be so dang proud, just like we, your readers are!

  17. Nami Reply

    Yes, why are Asian cultures so critical towards divorced women? In Japan, they call them Batsu, which means X because they actually put an X through your name on the family history recorded in the city records. It’s a shame they would actually give you more respect for being miserable instead of moving forward but you’ll surpass them – the righteous always do.

  18. Rachel Reply

    We don’t have divorce in the Philippines but couples can get an annulment or just separate. And there have been many marriages that didn’t work out lately. filipino women these days are stronger and braver to make the decision of walking out of a marriage. while there’s no stigma to being separated, women are still expected to make a marriage work and accept their husbands for all the shit that they do. sad and disgusting.
    hang on M. everything will work out in the end.

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