Educated Woman’s Lament

Oct 21st, 2011, in Featured, Society, by

The conundrum of a feminist woman seeking love, and the dismal male specimens on offer.

On the never say die 'dating Indonesian girls' post, on the 136th page, visitor 'Bitten Apple' writes thoughtfully of the predicament that single Indonesian women influenced by contact with the West, like with French feminism, may face in the game of love and romance once back in Indonesia.

She notes three types of available men:

  • Regular Indonesian guys: patriarchal, sexist, homophobic, and hypocritical, - they expect to be the man but still live with their parents
  • Western educated men: basically still patriarchal, although perhaps a little cleverer at it than above, selfish, ignorant, brats, still thoroughly upper middle class Asian despite their (superficial) western experiences
  • Expats and white men: these are a dismal choice, they go in for the, ahem, Indonesian look type girls, are either old and married, or young and with a fetish for Asian submissiveness

That was a summary, sucking out the juicy bits and without the qualifications....following is her full, interesting and thoughtful, comment, which ends with a lament for the western educated Indonesian women, stuck between a rock and a hard place, in this country and out of it, and

asked to be like a comet, then when you’re 25, you are asked to be a turtle, walking down slowly


If you are an Indonesian single woman who have spent some times overseas, either for work or for study, and/or are deeply influenced by western-ways of thinking, and currently living in Jakarta, I can feel you.

While in some cases we are adored, or even in some extreme cases, being envied by other women, as because we are fortunate enough to well-travelled, have earned an overseas degree, or to be able to speak in other languages, or for having this so-called more modern thought, we are left with dilemma of finding the right kind of man. It’s getting worse if you graduated from a university where many french feminists went to, not because those men are aware of, but because somehow it influenced the way you see the world. Even when you take fashion design. Just to say fashion is evolved according to social and political issues, they makes you read a whole book abiut french feminism movement. But the worst scenario is when you are claimed (either self-, or by public) as a feminist.
I myself am not (thank God!) a lonely woman who desperately need a man to hanging around. I am blessed with some best friends whom I am stuck since I was 5 years old, not to mention some other best friends I gained when I grew up. I have two male best friends who are almost-always available to be around if I am in need, or just to be traveling with, or to go to a bar with. But living in Jakarta, people think it’s a sin to be single when you are 25 years old.

It is not that we (speaking on behalf the others) are picky, but we do enjoy spending quality time with my partner, including having a quality chat. For me, as I said I have a bunch of best friends from elementary school, none of them is working in development sectors nor interested in politic or current global issues. Frankly speaking, I don’t need shallow chat from my partner, as I can easily get shallow chat by calling my friends.

What choices do I have?

1. Typical Indonesian men.
Here the thing about these men, Indonesian culture are extremely patriarchy. A man has to be ‘more’ than his woman, start from richer, smarter, to the most shallow thing, taller. They see women are only good for cooking, managing household, bearing children, calm, acting feminine, and being submissive. Not to mention their twisted attitude and obsession over control. Generally speaking, they require their women to tell (and sometime asking for permit) whatever she’s doing or about to do. I won’t tell my man if I am about to go peeing or not going to a bar with my friends just because he is not around.

Another thing about this group, they still live with their parents. They somehow want to be a leader in a relationship, but they themselves are unable to live by their own. Please be aware that Indonesian people have serious issues in sequencing priorities in their life. For instance the fact that people bought a new car while still living with their parents, or a girl from slum area dropped out from school while using smart phone and paying 10 bucks a month to be able to open facebook on their handheld.

Apart from that facts above, I simply cannot deal with their sexist jokes. Even when they are well-educated, typical Indonesian men love sexist jokes. I assume it is because sex itself is taboo and not well-educated in Indonesia. So talking dirty, throwing sexist jokes is kind a rebellious doing for them. In the other hand, I have found so many men from this group who are homophobic. Like they have never heard that WHO has officially excluded homosexual from mental illness decades ago. I believe they haven’t.

I am not saying they are conservative nor religious, because some of them are engaged in extra-marital or pre-marital sex, watching porn, some of them don’t pray on a regular basis, some of them have bribed cops, some drink alcohol, using drugs or at least weeds, or using prostitution services. But they will be shocked and call you crazy once you tell them you don’t believe in any religion, let alone being an atheist. They’re twisted with their own values that they take for granted.

2. Western-educated Indonesian men

I used to have a hope to this group of men. I thought that having a western education might enlighten they ways of thinking about an equal relationship, which is obviously doesn’t exist in a relationship where a typical indonesian men involved. But I have seen a lot of men belong to this group still have struggled with the concept of equality in a relationship. They think somebody needs to take the lead in a relationship, even though it’s not always him. Some of them are playing tricky, they let their women to take the lead in small peanut stuffs, like choosing curtain color, type of tiles, but the big stuffs like the location of the house/apartment itself is his decision.

There are few different reasons why these men acting like this. Some of them, went overseas but still mingling with fellow Indonesians or other Asians people, who-unfortunately-shared the thoughts and attitude. The only norms they grabbed during their time are limited to traffic-related mater, making a line in front of the lockets, or not to call people ‘Negro’ or ‘black’, or a wisdom that ‘it is not a sin to have premarital sex or drink alcohol or eat porks’. But still, some of this group are still homophobic or think that you are communist if you don’t believe in God. The second common reason is some of them come from upper middle class who drive their parents’ Hummer or luxurious SUV, doing nothing but destructive things in their life called managing their parent’s company. Most of them are selfish ignorant Ken-Brats who think that they are a seigneur of their little kingdom. So even though they have lived in western countries or earned overseas degree, they are still pretty much Asian, sadly in a negative way. These men won’t be interested to me anyway. They go after other brats, air-head women who are only able to talk about Louis Vuitton without ability to tell about the history of Louis Vuitton and the relation between Vuitton family with Nazi, assuming they really know about what Nazi had done in Europe. Some of them, even worse, mispronounced “Louis Vuitton”. So me, a not-skinny woman who talks about Rohigya Refugees or criticized them for being a chauvinist patriarchies snob, is not their option.

3. Expat.
It was not once or twice my fellow Indonesian friends suggested me to go after western men, as I am considered ‘too liberal’ for any Indonesian men. What the heck that supposes to mean? Anyway, after quite a while of contemplate, I finally realized that by “too liberal”, they mean I have western values to uphold, including equal relationship and “non-abusive” relationship. Theoretically, it is not hard for me, considering my occupation, to find an expat.
But.... Nyeh, forget it, most expats I have met are either old and married, or young-but Asian Fetish. Most of these men are so into uhm, how I address it politely, more authentic Indonesian looks and attitudes. Most of those Indonesian women play girly-submissive, acting feminine, don’t logically-intellectually debate in substance, especially those whom they met in a bar. I have known so many expats hooked up with an Indonesian woman in a bar, then hooked up again, and since there is no dating phase in Indonesian dating rules (seriously, it’s either you’re one night stand or in relationship. There is nothing in between), the woman called him her boyfriend (as if they’re in a relationship).

However, indeed there are groups of indonesian women who seriously are hunting for expats, hoping to be married, have beautiful half-race children, and live better. And those women communicate and sharing tips to each other. Once I accidentally sit in a same table with an old expat with his typical indonesian woman girlfriend. This woman could not even finish a sentence in a grammatically correct english, not to mention understand and follow current political issues (because everybody at the table was eitehr lawyer or development workers), while the guy is working as a political secretary in a developed country embassy for Indonesia. Well my english is not perfect either, I was just wondering what conversation do they make on a daily basis?

Don’t get me wrong, I also have known plenty of Expat-Asian women couples who make a perfect couple, perfect family. It is because I see equality in their relationship. They are on the same level, they came from the same class. It is not an equality when a man does the dishes just because he loves or feeling pity to his wife. It has to be driven by a perspective and consciously well-perceived knowledge that washing dishes is both’s obligation.

I am not saying either, that hooking up with bimbos is wrong, or ladies in the bar are necessarily bimbos. I am not. In fact, I love hanging out with friends in a bar, or with my partner once in a while. But having a quality time, in-depth dialogue or exercise our hobbies together does really really matter to me. And it doesn’t have to be a lawyer or development worker to have a quality conversation. But honestly, listening to a guy talking about his car or engine, or something scary like “when we get married, I want you to blah blah...” is just too much for me.

To me, the most important thing to pick up someone into a relationship is not how good is he/she on the dance floor, even though that counts. I need to know that she/he is not affiliated to a political party like PKS or Republican or UMP. I cannot figure it out by observing the way s/he dances nor how many bottles s/he can handle.

I always questioning why did this phenomenon happen massively. An expat friend gave me the hurtful answer, “if those people want to have a girl like you, independent, outspoken, and demands for equality, they would not have traveled all the way to Asia for a woman. And some guys are tired enough talking about stressful stuffs at their office, they want to be a king, serviced and get spoiled by his woman”. Apparently this Asian fetish, Yellow Fever, or whatever you call it, is not only about the looks, but also the attitude, the Asian family value where woman is plain submissive to her man and dedicated to their family. The fever is definitely shunned me from this group.

Then how on earth are we going to find a man ? I remember when I was a kid, my mom required me to be smart, academically excellent, and always be thirsty of knowledge. To make me read newspapers when I was on 5th grades, my father brought me to a British Embassy’s cocktail party and pointed me a woman who was sitting alone in the corner. He said nobody is talking to her because she knows nothing to talk about, because she doesn’t read paper!

Then two years ago, my mother refused to send me to an ivy league law school in USA, not only because the tuition alone costs 44 grands a year (a number that we barely have), but also because I am about to climb my pyramid. Her theory is woman’s social life is like a pyramid, the higher her social class (which is determined by educational tittle, income, position at work), the narrower her people are, which mean the fewer eligible men who would marry her. Because smart women scare men. Independent women are intimidating men. Well, sarcastically said, A ken-brats deserves a bimbo. But if a decent-widely open minded man is keen on a bimbo as well, whom do so-called western-educated women belong?

What a tricky way of living for Indonesian women, once you are asked to be like a comet, then when you’re 25, you are asked to be a turtle, walking down slowly.
If it is just the way it is, to hell with the billions dollars aid spent for women empowerment programmes in developing countries.


34 Comments on “Educated Woman’s Lament”

  1. avatar matahari says:

    Oh my god 🙂 I’m with mr. Brightside not only because he has a positive energy nickname 🙂 but also… Yes, you are right, this post is getting… Uhmm, I can’t find the adjective 🙂

  2. avatar Damien says:

    One of my friend also have the same problem with this. My point of view on this matter is that the world is changing now, and values shifting. For men, feminist is the unknown, and something that you don’t fully understand is either terrifying or intriguing.

    And even though women who have studied abroad have upgraded their way of thinking i don’t think the way of approaching men and dating really change that much. Since there is no official studies have been made on this matter something nobody ever taught you to do. And if this thing continues on, sad to say this type of woman or goong to be extinct really soon.

    What i’m trying to say is, you are new specimen, find out a way to survive by showing what an interesting partner you would be. Show that having an equal partner is better. Took time for women to be equal in education. And it will took time for one to be accepted. Although there is always an option of sperm bank and single parenting. Your choice.

  3. avatar bonni says:

    Damien,

    You’ve wrote some very nice points there. Reading them just made my day. Thank you 🙂

  4. avatar Me says:

    That’s what’s bad about sending indonesian women abroad. It ruins them with that vile feminist philosophy that breaks up marriages and homes. where id the divorce rate high? In countries that have feminist attitudes, usually. Where are kids raised by daycares instead of by a stay at home mom? More in the countries with feminism. What is wrong with taking joy in managing a home and getting the priviledge of raising your own children intead of letting someone else do it? Why do both people ahve to work in the office all day long? what is wrong with loving and submitting to a loving husband? And being fiminine?

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