One day, I logged onto Facebook. What was shown to me on the screen were pictures of weddings and newlyweds going to honeymoon. People, on their mid-twenties, were chattering about perfectly staged pre-weddings, out-of-town vacations, to toddlers being toddlers. Congratulating each other made up most of the conversations along with occasional religious expressions. The theatrics of it had been more pressurizing than inspiring and it occurred to me that it had been going on for a while. That was about ten years ago.
It was not until years after that I realized that I was no longer among friends, I was in a society of “breeders”. “Breeders” is a term popularized by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community to describe heterosexuals. Ever since there have been varying definitions on “breeders”. Wikipedia stated, “breeders” refers to people who “have children, particularly for parents who purportedly over focus on their children and allegedly abandon their previous friends and lifestyle; or to women who give birth to many children, often with the derisive implication that they have too many offspring.” An Urban Dictionary submission defines “breeders” as people who are “so inept the only possible way they can contribute anything to society is to produce offspring.”
What I can conclude from the definitions is that “breeders” is a society that bases its order and structure on the act of breeding. Every aspect of the society, our society, is primarily made to sustain it. Government policies, for instance, have been focused on developing safeguards to sustain the population. These policies concern fields from education, health, to jobs. The provincial government of Jakarta has introduced programs such as Kartu Jakarta Pintar (KJP) for education and Kartu Jakarta Sehat (KJS) for health. It is quite possibly an effort to anticipate the ever increasing population. It begs the question for how long, and for how many generations to come, these policies will continue.
The term “breeders” is considered derogatory at it is likening childbearing to animal husbandry. It depicts a cycle that is comparable to a cycle of cattle. The typical cycle goes from schooling to getting a job to getting married to having children. Especially for women, schooling and getting a job perhaps are even not as essential as getting married and having children. Sometimes we also see comments expressing negativity such as “People like them can only breed!” It is as though we are aware in the back of our minds that there so much more to the society than the act of breeding. This will lead us to the definition of heterosexuality.
According to American Psychological Association (APA), heterosexuality is an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and or sexual attractions to persons of the opposite sex. It also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions. Isn’t it odd that the definition centers on attraction, and not “breeding”? The latter part of the definition also brings us to an understanding of identifying heterosexuality; to inquire the identification of heterosexuality is to inquire the socialization in our society.
Through socialization in our society, we are presented a cycle, a life cycle. As implied above, the cycle is characterized by the act of breeding and (gender) roles involved. It can occur through: social learning—receiving rewards for behavior appropriate to our sex and receive punishments for inappropriate behavior; cognitive development—acquiring roles through awareness of our own sex and perceptions of behavior appropriate to our own sex; and identification—adopting roles through identification with a role model. Affirmed by culture and tradition, the cycle assigned our sexes into roles.
It serves a purpose and the purpose is biological succession of generations. In “Sociological Study on the Transformation of Fertility and Childbearing Concept in Iran”, Zohreh Behjati-Ardakani, Mehrdad Navabakhsh, and Seyed Hassan Hosseini studied, “In human mind and instinct, the concept of evolution and immortality is intermingled with reproductive power and childbearing and thereby, the biological, psychological, and social success in life is contingent upon reproductive power of individuals and the fulfilment of societies’ expectations.” From sociological perspective, facing the environment and the means which are at disposal, society is making the decision to set structure—even if it involves heterosexuality being reduced to roles of “breeding”, providing a challenge of its own. In some parts of society, girls are being prepared for marriage at the earliest age, as early as first menstrual period. Giving birth to as many children as possible is also encouraged.
The current population of Indonesia is over 263 million based on the latest United Nations estimates. It is projected that by year 2020, population of Indonesia will reach over 271 million. With the median of about 28 years of age, the present generation is ripe to continue the centuries-old cycle. Issues concerning population may not be “felt” on individual level. However, when the increasing population is disproportional to resources, inadequacies of resources occur in every aspect. It undoubtedly leads to various issues. Vast and extensive analysis in disciplines such as environmental studies, social and developmental studies, economic studies, and feminist studies has been called for regarding the issue.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a heterosexual. I had the possibility of getting married and bear children, and quite of young age, but it was not going to be with somebody I love. Sense of identity, quest for fulfillment, and ultimately, happiness, are what I would be compromising. Reflecting on it, I question if life leading me to experiences other than bearing children suggests that I am not aligned with the sexuality I identify with. The life cycle can be seen as the succession of roles and a certain order and predictability occurs over time as we move through a given succession of roles. I am bound to a life cycle. We are all bound to a life cycle. The question is whether our values and norms designate us to a constellation of roles enriching us with greater wisdom of life, our essence as human beings.