INDONESIA: Commandment #11- Thou Shalt Not Take a Selfie

MICHELLE VARINATA WRITES – Somewhere in the Twitterverse, Felix Siauw, a young Muslim religious motivational speaker, tweets: “These days many Muslim women take selfies without shame. There are usually nine frames in one photo with facial poses that are just – my goodness – where’s the purity in women?” (Translated from Bahasa Indonesian)

This tweet alludes to the selfie craze sweeping Indonesia’s social media scene. For those of you who are not social media savvy, a selfie is a self-portrait taken from a smartphone and it is popular among tweens to 20-something Millenials. In this case, Felix Siauw believes that selfies sexualize Muslim women. From there, he wrote a manifesto structurally based on the Ten Commandments. However, he tailored it to the selfie-obsessed generation. His tweets declare that selfies are the cause of pride and arrogance as well as the aforementioned sexualization of young Muslim women.

In response, #Selfie4Siauw  exploded the Twitterverse like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Some selfies contain women in hijabs (hair scarves) and others of women without makeup. While Indonesia is known as an extremely conservative country with high standards of female sexuality, these young Muslim women used the selfie as a weapon against the absurdity of Felix Siauw’s comments. From there, the #Selfie4Siauw movement has taken off throughout Jakarta, the selfie-loving capital of Indonesia.

The selfie is not just a social media phenomenon. According to the The Jakarta Post, the selfie became an especially groundbreaking cultural movement when the selfie stick (called “tongkat narsis“/”tongsis“) was invented in late 2013. Due to its invention, this equipment has helped Indonesian youth take pictures at various angles beyond arm’s reach. Hands-free selfies is just another testament to today’s selfie craze.

As a selfie-loving young woman, being able to take a selfie at my own convenience is convenient since no stranger is needed to take my picture when out in public. Whenever my Indonesian friends and I hang out, they take out the beloved selfie stick/tongsis for group selfies and shoot from all kinds of angles. Within each frame, it captures the camaraderie for us all to remember and cherish.

Selfies don’t have to be sexual at all. They can even be selfless when taken of a group of friends.


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