By: Farid Muttaqin dan Diah Irawaty*

On July 25, 2020, LETSS Talk was launched through a talk show entitled “Important but Taboo: Sex Education and Sexuality in the Family.” LETSS Talk aims to establish consolidation of feminist ideas in the dynamic of socio-political condition, but also with the consideration of anomalies, ironic, and contradictions. The idea to establish LETSS talk was emerged in a discussion between Diah Irawaty (a Ph.D. candidate at the Anthropology Department at the University of New York Binghamton), Renvi Liasari an activist at DAMAR Lampung (anti-violence women’s advocacy organization), and Farid Muttaqin (a Ph.D. candidate at the Anthropology Department at the University of New York Binghamton). The momentum of Pandemic Covid-19 has triggered the establishment of a learning forum that discusses several issues particularly gender, sex, sexuality, and feminism. During the pandemic where much work is conducted from the home and the available platforms of virtual discussion facilitated the idea to be implemented. The forum is named LETSS Talk stands for let’s talk about Sex and Sexuality. 

LETSS Talk aims at applying critical and creative thinking as an approach to the study of gender, sex, sexuality, and feminism online as well as direct implementation in reality. The discussion of gender, sex, sexuality, and feminism is a key discourse in negotiating and resisting trends of totalitarianism, traditionalism, patriarchy, and heteronormativity in democratic development. Using the tagline “Let’s Talk about SEX n SEXUALITIES,” LETSS Talk is the ideas and attempts to facilitate the freedom of speech and thought. It proposes to accommodate the spaces for learning that respect diversity of thoughts and academic traditions that needs intensity in developing, producing, and reproducing the arguments from the rhetoric claims. 

At the internal level of the feminist movement, LETSS Talk’s perspective is directed towards the understanding that feminist knowledge should be continuously questioned, reviewed, analyzed, and debated. The feminist idea has its own history and context. Feminist knowledge should continuously be improved following the dynamic change in reality. LETSS Talk attempts to accommodate the virtual spaces that develop progressively in the “internet society” to be a medium for enlightened thoughts and knowledge on feminism, upgrading the discourse of gender, sex, and sexuality. Discussion and learning forum activity is also designed towards the research with all its processes such as developing context, designing research questions, determining the research informants, preparing the surveys, and reporting documents of the discussion of the research. LETSS Talk endeavors to document the marginalized voices and knowledge; LETSS Talk decentering and destabilizing powered knowledge by collecting knowledge of those who are oppressed and putting the victimized voices into the center. 

LETSS Talk is an experimentation of feminist scholarship amidst “the internet society.” In this context, LETSS Talk initiates to negotiate with the virtual world that usually demands an instant approach and way of thinking and neglects the need for engagement. Besides, the virtual world often disregards the reflective side of the problems and it exchanges the issues so quickly. LETSS Talk is an intention, idea, and practice to engage intensively in the increasingly dominant trend of virtualization on the issue of feminism. In practice, the activities adopted in LETSS Talk are interactive dialogue, exchange of thoughts and ideas intensively and avoid monologue and lecturing methods. 

Apart from virtualizing negotiation, LETSS Talk’s experimenting with feminist scholarship by introducing the concept of feminist anthropology as an analytical framework analysis such as denaturalization, decentering and destabilizing, diversity and fluidity, and intersectionality that not only analyzes the interrelationships but also understands contradiction and irony. Besides, feminist ethnography is an important knowledge to put positionality of the marginalized group experiences as a source of key knowledge, agency, gender politics, and many others.

Establishing and developing a feminist idea is not an instant process. It is a process of history, a process to reclaim the historical journey that is very long and sometimes not even straightforward nor linear. Just like patriarchy that emerges into a hegemonic system through a collective process, the attempts to regain history through feminist ideas need collective and solidarity efforts. In promoting and developing the LETSS Talk idea, there was a lot of support and assistance from various parties. LETSS Talk is a voluntary-based initiative, which means it is built and fully operationalized on a voluntary basis. All parties involved in the activities organized by LETSS Talk are volunteers and no material gain expected. 

Until recently, LETSS Talk has had no funding support from any agency or institution. The progress of LETSS Talk depends on the care of the volunteers that reach almost 300 volunteers since LETSS Talk is launched. The volunteers organize the events and even provides the Sign Language Interpreter for inclusive learning. Thus, LETSS Talk asserts to be social volunteerism, in addition to political activism and scholarship movement. Furthermore, LETSS Talk needs to continue to develop ideas for the consolidation of the feminist movement, as well as an Indonesia to be more democratic, inclusive, respect diversity, tolerant, and hinder spaces for all forms of oppression and violence.


*After finishing at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, Jakarta, Diah Irawaty and Farid Muttaqin work in various feminist organizations such as PUAN Amal and UN Women for Farid; SIKAP, Kalyanamitra, Rumpun Gema Perempuan and Komnas Perempuan for Diah. Both of them are Ph.D. candidates in Anthropology at the State University of New York (SUNY) Binghamton, New York, United States of America, and initiators in establishing and managing LETSS Talk.


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