Photographer: Oktavian Adhiek Putra
These photo series is telling my personal experience about toxic masculinity in Indonesia: Imagine growing up in a little town in a third world country, which happens to also be the biggest Islamic country in the world.
I was surrounded by women who completely cover themselves up to avoid the gaze of men, and men getting beaten up for showing a little femininity. Like simply wearing nail polish -now let alone being gay- which usually involves death threats.
As young boys, for me and my brother the most important thing to prove was about ‘who is the strongest’. And what makes a boy stronger then being a man?
That’s what you get told every day by your parents, teacher, media, your friends and pretty much everyone I remember up until my late-teen years.
After I moved to Bali, and had a lot of amazing influence by a lot of open minded people, I was finally ready to show all the ideas I collected over the years on shooting with boys. Which I never had the guts to do.
Now a boy in a skirt is one of my favorite motives to use my lense.
I want to use my art to educate the people from my small town, the people of Indonesia and just everyone who feels like gender roles and gender norma are still a pre-defined thing.
There are so many boys out there fighting with this issue, society just doesn’t let them play and experiment with their looks as much as girls do. Too stuck in their ways that “boys are blue and girls are pink”, when the reality is that these gender norms do not reflect some inherent biological difference between the sexes, they are culturally constructed, as everything else is.
And in my opinion; if we can make it, we can just as easily break it.