Yesterday was our last official research and methodology class with Leslie and Degung. The majority of the class consisted on a discussion of ethics, as portrayed through various codes (AAA, journalism, etc). The conversation revealed a universal sense of confusion and unease regarding these various codes. We discussed processes such as the IRB (which I went through), as well as the Indonesian equivalent, and the ways in which such standardized regulations are both necessary and counterproductive to academic research and human rights and social justice work. Does automatically relegating pregnant women, children, prisoners, etc to the world of “vulnerable populations” protect their rights, or discredit their agency?
Last weekend I went to YKP with Ika and attended their weekly support group meeting. The experience was inspiring, sad, and fun. The women I met were incredibly charismatic, and although they were honest and open about the hardships they experienced, they also made lots of jokes and had a good time together. We all introduced ourselves, and through this, we connected beyond subject/ researcher divides. By sharing my thoughts and experiences on gender and gender violence, they accepted me into their group regardless of my seronegativity, and many told me they hoped I would continue to come to the meetings.
Many of the women approached me afterwards, without being prompted, and gave me their contact information so that we could begin to set up individual meetings and interviews. I would share the condoms with the women, as planned. Additionally, I would share photos and stories of my experiences related to gender and sexuality at Haverford. In this way, our relationship would be one of reciprocal sharing and learning, rather than one-sided acquisitions of information or a business transaction.
The experience was truly humbling, and I am incredibly grateful to Ayu, the IRP (especially Ika and Termana), and all of the women at that meeting for allowing me to be a part of it. Furthermore, the experience proved useful in sorting through the ethical and theoretical issues we discussed in class. Although I haven’t reached any conclusions, I now feel more comfortable with my role at YKP. For now, at least, my fears of reinscribing myself into the colonial legacy are assuaged. I have already learned so much from these women, and am confident that I will continue to learn more.