Single Indonesian Women

May 19th, 2008, in IM Posts, Opinion, by

Therry Therry says overseas educated Indonesian women are faced with prejudice back at home and poor choices on the men front.

SOB's, Single Overseas Bachelorettes

Indonesia Dating

For single Indonesian women who

  • are graduates of overseas universities
  • or have spent some time overseas
  • and/or are deeply influenced by the western-ways of thinking

while we're women who are fortunate enough to have earned an overseas degree and are able to speak in another language, people often assume we are outrageously rich and likely to be snobs, and we are left with the dilemma of finding the right kind of man.

Men

In a country like Indonesia, where everyone seems to get into a state of frenzy if they aren't a part of a "couple", it has become almost a sin to be walking around without your so-called other half. No matter how emancipated women have become, they still feel it's imperative that they are to be wedded off - soon, hopefully, no later than the age of 26. As soon as they hit 30, sirens start to blare off from their ears, forbidding them to enter places like cinemas or cafes with dimmed lights - as if these places have invisible placards on top of the entrances blazing "No singles allowed" blinking on and off in garish purple neons.

At times like these, it is possible lose our belief that it is okay to be single - no it's definitely fine spending Saturday evenings in front of the telly watching repeats of soap operas, munching on crackers and glugging wine down to the very last drop - but when it comes to the topic of "boyfriend", we often get into a desperate state where we'd ask each other if there's any guy - anyone? anyone at all?

But to our despair we have come to a realisation that we know - yes, we know - that it is a tough battle to find the man who could really come anywhere near our expectations - even though we don't expect that much. Well, so long as he's presentable, not like someone that even your dog would recoil from, and comes with a decent form of transportation and doesn't scab money from us - won't it be alright?

Even so, the choices aren't great:

  • Typical Indonesian guy, whose ways of thinking repel us so much we shudder at the very thought of him. The mind games, the play-hard-to-get, the sleazy attitude, not to mention the somehow twisted attitude that they think females are only good for cooking, cleaning, bearing children, acting feminine, and being plain submissive - need we explain more?
  • Overseas-veteran bachelors with over-indulgent parents who give them with BMW's and Mercedes Benzes and do many of the other destructive things that filthy rich people do to their kids, thus unknowingly making these potentially fine young men turn into selfish ignorant brats who suffer from what we like to call "The Little Emperor Syndrome". Although, because they live in western countries, they are very much influenced by Western ways, they are still very much Asian - unfortunately left with the bad parts.
  • Foreign men, expats - forget it. Most of them are fat and balding with burnt red skin. Anyway, these guys go for the authentic Indonesian looks so there's no way they'd be interested in women like me who don't look that way.

So the question - plus the quest itself - remains the same: How on earth are we going to find the man who doesn't have all those dreadful characteristics? The time left is getting shorter by the day and the numbers of eligible men are definitely getting smaller. I am simply clueless as to think whether we are simply left with no hope or should remain optimistic.

To hell with it. I'm just going to purchase another dog and be done with it.

Employment

Being the naive girl that I was, upon returning from my study overseas, I thought getting a job would be an easy task, because an overseas degree must have been more appealing than a local degree, right?

Wrong. It was difficult for me in finding a job. I sent out resumes after resumes only to usually receive zero response, and even if I did manage to score some interviews, they never led anywhere.

I had thought that my resume and the abundant amount of work experience I had was something that would have floored them - but it seems a lot of work experience probably meant I was not loyal enough (even though they were all mostly part-time jobs that I did during college) and carrying the title of an overseas graduate scared most people off because they probably thought I was going to ask for a huge starting salary which was equal to the salary of a person who had worked for ten years.

It was when I was almost totally fed up with all the useless interviews that I finally, finally, got a job. Unfortunately, before I even started working, someone had leaked the fact that I was (gasp!) an overseas graduate, and before I even knew it, I had my very own persona labelled onto me; the snob girl who must have had a very grand life and very loaded parents at that.

That wasn't the first time it had happened to me. In the brief period of me working as an English teacher in a small institution in Thamrin, I had received the same treatment - the other employees were not keen to be friendly with me, and I couldn't immediately start chit-chatting away with them for fear of being too friendly aka SKSD (Sok Kenal Sok Deket) and scared them even more; besides, the Indonesian Art of Basa-basi was not one I had mastered yet.

Which was why it was funny that when we finally got to know each other, they were surprised that I wasn't at all what they thought. As a matter of fact, I was just like everybody else.

I went to work using public transport, instead of a hand-me-down BMW and a personal chauffeur.

I bought my clothes at places like Matahari and sometimes Mangga Dua, not from Guess or Mango. Although if I had a lot of money I probably would gone to the expensive stores, but clothes have never been an important thing for me - I'd rather spend my money on books, to be completely honest.

I cut my hair at the local Johnny Andrean and experienced bad hair days because it was the wrong style, instead of colouring and rebonding it at LuVaze - I'm not freaking Agnes Monica, for God's sake. I wasn't at all as glamorous and snobbish as others assumed by default.

Perhaps it is common to label supposedly rich people as snobs - because they are wealthy, then they are assumed to be arrogant. So it must be weird to see a rich person not being smug about their richness, because many of them are like that.

I remember what this other colleague said about this Javanese girl in the R&D department who drove to work using a Suzuki Katana and just recently changed her car to a Toyota Soluna, (bear in mind we're talking about Japanese cars as opposed to European);

"Even though she's rich, she's a very friendly person."

Wow. That "even though" bit really got me. As if being wealthy - or living an abundant and sufficient life - was a weakness, something to condemn to, and an excuse to make sense of their judgement.

Which is why whenever I met new people, I dread the very question of,

"Where did you graduate from?"

I'd contemplate lying, but I have never been a very good liar, and if I do lie, it will all just get out of hand in which they probably go,

"Oh, you went to so-and-so university! What year did you graduate? Perhaps you know my friend Budi, he was the manager of the student lounge?"

See? Not a very good idea. So now you would have understood my dilemma - if I'm being honest, I'm definitely going to be judged as a snob as to what has happened before, and if I do lie, I'll just get myself into more trouble. And all because I spent a few years of my life being overseas.

Hardly a big deal - but not to some people.


145 Comments on “Single Indonesian Women”

Pages: [1] 2 3 4 5 »

  1. avatar tomaculum says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    therry,
    intelligent, brainy women scare men, worse if they (the women) are succesful (and wealthy) …. :)

    And the next question they ask in Indonesia is: “How much money do you earn? Which car do you have? BMW? Mercedes?”
    If I told them I didn’t have any car, they didn’t believe me.

    Btw: I think there are surely some exceptions in Indonesia, so that you can find one to embrace.

  2. avatar Berlian Biru says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    I totally agree, stereotyping and prejudice is such a bad thing Therry, but whereas you are angry that others stereotype you and your lifestyle you seem to have no difficulty in doing the same to others.

    Read again your description of the three types of available men and tell me if you’re not guilty of a little bit of offensive over-generalisation on your own part. You say you aren’t a snob but rest assured your description of expat men (and the oh so subtle way you define the sort of women you believe they like) would indicate ugly snobbishness right through to the bone.

    I suspect that the prejudices you display towards men and other women may have some role in your current single status. The idea of a new dog really might be the best option for you dear.

  3. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Friend,

    Like Soekarno, Achmad loves all women, especially the ones that get their close at Matahari.

    Va Va Voom !

    Merdeka !

  4. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    p.s. — sorry that was clothes not close.

    Also, Friend, what about Facebook ?

  5. avatar rima says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Therry: Good article, a bit cynical and sarcastic but that’s is how you write, and I love you for it :)

    Yeah, the same thing happened to me as well. The bottom line is most Indonesians are quite shallow when it comes to judging another person, which is a shame because we do have a beautiful quote ‘ tak kenal maka tak sayang’, roughly translated as ‘you can’t love those you don’t know’.

    Intelligent girls are intimidating to men, esp Indonesian (jakartan) men, esp when the girl speaks other languages, fluently. Good thing I’m dumb and have never had a problem finding men, Indonesian or otherwise. lol

    When people ask me where I graduate from, what degrees I have, what languages I speak, I just blatantly show off. At first I dreaded questions like that, just like you. But being seemingly humble and trying to get in the good graces of fellow jakartans tire me, so I just said ‘hell with it’ and told them the truth, sometimes, when in the presence of annoying people, i even exaggerate a little. lol

    Good points though, it’s always nice to read your stuff. :)

  6. avatar sputjam says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    men are not intimidated by succesful women. On the other hand, women can tell a loser and distance themselves from these threats.

  7. avatar MbakAditya says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Achmad, do you ever exaggerate about your achievements?

  8. avatar Cukurungan says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    In order to give a good clue to Mbak Therry, we should tell the truth of the old wisdom that a woman intellectual is rest on her beauty whereas a man beauty is rest on his ego.

  9. avatar therry says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Holy sh*te I didn’t know this article is already put up online! Haha.

    Thanks everyone for the comments and criticism! I really appreciate them all ^^

    As for expat men being fat and balding, I haven’t seen many that are strikingly good looking and even if there were, they were already attached. I seriously don’t think they are interested with the girls of my type since I don’t fall into the category of exotic-looking girls like Rima *wink2*

    I might also add that there are not only fat and balding expat men but also fat and balding and leery-looking Indo men that are the worst since they seem to ogle younger women whilst their wives were standing right next to them!

    Perhaps all the three types of men sound offensively generalised like Berlian Biru said, unfortunately those seemed to be the types of men I often met with. Just my luck, maybe?

    I don’t think my experience which I’ve depicted in the writing was any different than that of a single woman living in NY. We’re all in the quest of looking for that extra-ordinary person; that one in a million, and somehow when light of hopes seem to have dimmed down, the option of getting a dog as a companion seems tempting enough.

    It’s not that we are lonely – it’s because we’re worried that in this world we’re living in, there is not one person out there who understand us and sees us the way we want to be seen.

  10. avatar Janma says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    at the risk of falling into the generalization trap, I think that men can fall into two categories when it comes to successful and confident independent women.
    1. Those who are intimidated…
    2. Those who are not.

    Now, for those who are intimidated, they are more likely to be men who are independent themselves but who are still laboring subconsciously under the idea that women need to be somehow inferior to men so that they don’t feel emasculated…. or they are worried that a strong successful woman is by default going to be a feminist bitch. I really don’t imagine many men in Indonesia falling into that category. I feel they fall mainly into the 2nd category….
    2. Those who don’t…. these are the Oedipus types. They actually want a strong successful woman to be their mummy and take care of everything for them. They still want superiority as ‘men’ but they don’t want to do anything to earn it.
    Many Indonesian men who marry western women fall into this category. They don’t mind giving up their power as long as they get it all cushy without having to do anything. Then they complain about the woman being a ‘feminist’ and ‘bossy’ etc and long for the submissiveness of an asian woman but they actually don’t want an asian woman because they would then have to make money, bring home the bacon, take care of everything, worry about leaving her home alone, cause she’ll be scared on her own, can’t do this or that on her own and needs constant attention etc…..

    crikey…. just reading that back, for someone who was cautious about falling into the generalization trap, I just did a pretty good job of it!
    Well, may as well plunge right in since I’m already wet…. I think that men who complain about women being successful and independent don’t always understand the real reason why those women are the way they are…. they often think that it’s because they are bra burning feminists or cold hearted climbers….. but in fact it’s often because they have had to be that way, from the word go to support themselves or their children and families. Maybe they didn’t have anyone to rely on but their own selves to put food on tables and roofs over heads. Maybe they just had a secret burning desire to achieve something in their lives outside of the kitchen environment. But somehow men see womens achievements as some sort of conspiracy to show them up. Kind of like how Indonesia sees the west, or any other more advanced country like china…. they’re just doing it to make us look bad…. it’s subconscious, but it’s there.

  11. avatar MbakAditya says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Haha – China, more advanced?

    Janma – I think I mave have asked before, are you Indonesian?

  12. avatar Deng Xiao Phing says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Therry,
    pls allow me to introduce myself, my name is XiaoPhing and I love to mingle around with any western educated single women, so do not overly worried here, there are people can fit with your profile … it is me

  13. avatar dewaratugedeanom says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    I see the battle between the sexes is still going on.

    It was Napoleon Bonaparte, himself not a wussy in the battlefield nor in the bedroom, who said: “La seule victoire dans l’amour est la fuite“.
    In other words: ‘Run, Run, Run’ (Pink Floyd).

  14. avatar Lairedion says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    therry said:

    since they seem to ogle younger women whilst their wives were standing right next to them!

    That’s one of my favourite pastimes but I do not limit myself to younger women. I also stare at women of the same age or older women as long as they look sexy. You know, Indo selalu cewek stand-bye.

    And yes, the missus knows what kind of pervert I am and no, she doesn’t care. She only teases me when I miss out on a hottie…. :-)

  15. avatar rima says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    mr. husband and i often ogle at hot women together. i usually spot them first and tell him, then we ogle together.
    i personally think it’s healthy to do that with your man, and it shows your man how self confident you are, that you are not intimidated by other women’s beauty.
    he can ogle all he wants, at the end of the day, i’m the one beside him in bed ;)

  16. avatar Lairedion says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    rima,

    I’m really starting to like you. Can I ogle at you for a change? :razz:

  17. avatar Bule Harga says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Therry more power to you. I know at least 4 western-educated degree-holding single indo women (living in jakarta) who are doing just fine with their jobs. they don’t need to explain themselves because their confidence in their careers don’t let them worry about what other people think. still, they are cognizant of their education and don’t flaunt it (even tho they could). their university education has given them the skills they are using in their present decent-paying jobs.

    a couple of them have gotten job offers in singapore and hong kong. so, if the indo cowok can’t pull his sleazy head out of his pantat and give an educated woman the respect she deserves, don’t waste your time with them. in fact, you may be better off pursuing your career in the western country and enjoy a better standard of living anyway (except getting a maid, driver and cook may be more expensive).

    all the best you…cheers

  18. avatar rima says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    @lairedion: a.u.b. lol
    there will be a lot of hot women out this summer. me and hubby usually go to a square called place st. gery – where many hotness sit and drink beer/coffee.
    women are God’s most beautiful creature, created to ogle at. i dont think men are that pleasing to the eyes, it’s their touch that’s pleasing. but this is really getting out of topic and i shall stop now. :D

  19. avatar rima says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    @bule harga:
    good to see a guy who supports independent, intelligent indonesian women.
    and therry, yes.. more power to you!

  20. avatar Bagus Prakoso says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    I just read this article today which just happened to appear on the the front-page of my RSS Reader. The Title and the Summary caught my eye, which probably why I read it until the end, including the comments :)

    Just to for introduction about myself, I graduated from one University in the UK about mid 1998. I couldn’t (wouldn’t) go back home that time because of the big Economic Crisis and decided to stay and took a risk to work (when that time everybody said it was impossible or even against the law to work there if you are not a member of Europeran Union). I made it through and never looked back ever since.
    Obviously, the time I spent here, the friends I made, everything changed my personality and way of thinking, as Therry said, becoming westernized. This includes the way I perceive Relationship, Marriage, The Role of Husband and Wife in the family. And coming from a strict Javanese family, I tell you, these are quite a lot of changes.
    I began to ‘dislike’ traditional Indonesian girls, don’t get me wrong, some of them are very beautiful, but unfortunately the way they think didn’t ‘click’ with the way I think.
    You can imagine what my parents (especially my mom) thought, when I told them about this :)
    So, my first girlfriend in the UK was a British :) This didn’t work.
    And then, one ‘almost miracle’ thing happened. I actually met an Indonesian girl who think the same way as me ! You can guess what happened next, I can’t let this ‘very rare’ opportunity pass me by :) Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t end very well, ironically caused by Indonesian way of thinking from other member of the families :(
    At this moment, my fiancee is from Slovak Republic (go figure), and we are getting married next year.

    Personally, I think, once we get westernised, it’s quite hard to back to the way we think, and our perception (and other’s perception to us) will forever change. And if after this we try to live one feet on one side (west) and the other on the other side (east), we won’t get anywhere in our life, we will always be un-satisfied. It’s better that we go whole-heartedly to one side and forget about the others, or better still, if you are able to do it, take the best of both worlds and run with it.

    As for me, I feel that I am Indonesian (the blood runs within me), but I also strongly feel that I’m a citizen of the world. I won’t forget where I came from, but I am going to take myself where ever my feet drag me.

    Hmm, I hope that make sense :) If not, just skip it :)

    Btwy, recently I’ve met some Indonesian, men and women, who live locally but with International orientation (kayak iklan HSBC aja). So, I think there has been some changes.

  21. avatar Lairedion says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    rima, my last and final OT comment. If you have the opportunity you should visit Puro Beach, Palma de Mallorca. For me the place to be for ogling on hot women while moderately sipping alcoholics in the hot Mediterranean sun.

    PURO BEACH

  22. avatar Enigmatic says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Wow therry thanks for this article… like you I thought that being an overseas graduate would make job-hunting, working in Indonesia, and life in general easier… Guess I have to read up more often about this site…

    Firstly which course did you graduate in? Judging from the fact that you ended up ‘as an English teacher in a small institution in Thamrin’ for a while can I assume that you’ve studied in USA or UK or Singapore? Also from the way you put your ideas across with the words you use, could I guess that you were a graduate in English Language? If I am wrong…

    Since you were an overseas graduate why didn’t you consider working at the same country you graduated from? After all, you could be some foreign talent that the governments/ corporations need… Also, since you’re Indonesian chances are, because of the weak Rupiah compared to other currencies, you might be more content with a lower pay than say a local who graduated in the same course.

    Overseas-veteran bachelors

    When you refer to this group of people are you talking about the Indonesians who return from overseas studies? If so, you might be stereotyping them by simply saying that they are just spoilt little emperors etc because not all such bachelors have an easy life even overseas with Mercedes, BMWs etc. There are definitely cases where the overseas students have to struggle with part time jobs and rent problems even when they’re overseas. This is not limited to non Indonesians.

    It’s been fun reading your article. Nevertheless, good luck with your search for the other half you seek. Hope to hear good news from you soon. :-D

    Cheers

  23. avatar angryburger says:
    May 19th, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    I usually don’t comment on this site, but this is great article! especially agree on the appalling nature of the “Even though she’s rich, she’s a very friendly person.” statement :-)

  24. avatar Lairedion says:
    May 20th, 2008 at 1:56 am

    Bagus Prakoso said:

    Personally, I think, once we get westernised, it’s quite hard to back to the way we think, and our perception (and other’s perception to us) will forever change. And if after this we try to live one feet on one side (west) and the other on the other side (east), we won’t get anywhere in our life, we will always be un-satisfied. It’s better that we go whole-heartedly to one side and forget about the others, or better still, if you are able to do it, take the best of both worlds and run with it.

    As for me, I feel that I am Indonesian (the blood runs within me), but I also strongly feel that I’m a citizen of the world. I won’t forget where I came from, but I am going to take myself where ever my feet drag me.

    Hmm, I hope that make sense :-) If not, just skip it :-)

    Some very wise words my friend. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  25. avatar kiwibali says:
    May 20th, 2008 at 6:14 am

    i personally agree a girl who can stand-up for them self and mostly these type of girls usually has had a significant number of western influence.

    2. Those who don’t…. these are the Oedipus types. They actually want a strong successful woman to be their mummy and take care of everything for them. They still want superiority as ‘men’ but they don’t want to do anything to earn it.

    thats a bit harsh isnt it…. i dont want anyone to be my ‘mumy’, and take care of me. ever since i was in junior high i’ve been trying to do the opposite. i tried to be as individualistic as i can. Western-minded girls are known to be independent and can surely stand-up for what they want. i just find it these type of girls are more fun to hang-out with.

    is it really hard to get a job in Indo when you have an overseas degree?? i would’ve thought overseas degrees are like the golden ticket to a mid-income job.

  26. avatar kiwibali says:
    May 20th, 2008 at 6:18 am

    the above post was out of wack.. sory, the quote suppose to be on the part with the number.

    and not all overseas graduates came from a high-flying family. My family came from a middle-income, traditional, threshold. Although yes it seems that most do, there are some out there that quite different from the ‘spoil brat’ type of O-graduate that you mentioned.

  27. avatar janma says:
    May 20th, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    thats a bit harsh isnt it…. i dont want anyone to be my ‘mumy’, and take care of me. ever since i was in junior high i’ve been trying to do the opposite. i tried to be as individualistic as i can. Western-minded girls are known to be independent and can surely stand-up for what they want. i just find it these type of girls are more fun to hang-out with.

    yeah… it was a bit harsh…. i was in a dark and cynical place…. LOL!

  28. avatar dewaratugedeanom says:
    May 20th, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    To all of you desperate but wealthy ladies, come to Kuta. Forget about the fat and balding bules, the spoiled overseas-veteran brats, the sleazy and playing hard-to-get typical Indonesian guys, and have a go at a real cowboy. We are eagerly waiting to understand you and see you the way you want to be seen.

  29. avatar Hitam Tapi Cina says:
    May 20th, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    There is no such things as westernized thinking.
    It is either a sensible or not acceptable way of thinking.
    Those who see others as been westernized are just the ones who havent come to the level of common sense of the westernized individuals.

    It’s only common sense.
    The reason the easternized thinking individual see single adult women as a strange commodity is because they only have the concept that women or men need their own family to take care of them. Kind o like insurance for the future.

    While in the west, when you grow old and uncapable of taking care of yourself, the government will care for you, no questions asked.

  30. avatar kiwibali says:
    May 20th, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    There is no such things as westernized thinking.
    It is either a sensible or not acceptable way of thinking.
    Those who see others as been westernized are just the ones who havent come to the level of common sense of the westernized individuals.

    It’s only common sense.
    The reason the easternized thinking individual see single adult women as a strange commodity is because they only have the concept that women or men need their own family to take care of them. Kind o like insurance for the future.

    While in the west, when you grow old and uncapable of taking care of yourself, the government will care for you, no questions asked.

    common sense… ??? i think its more about culture, common sense are derived from culture. different culture have different views, so people regard what is common sense differently.

    i don’t quite understand what you are trying to say here. there are no such thing as a western way of thinking? its just its either sensible or not acceptable way of thinking??
    but there is such a thing of a western way of thinking, one being more individualistic than collectivist. could you please elaborate more, so i can understand it.

    - so what is an acceptable way of thinking, and what is not???
    - the definition of what is sensible is defined differently in different cultures. so you cant use that broad definition in generalizing a certain way of thinking.

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