Kampung Girls

Aug 28th, 2007, in Opinion, Society, by

Ross says “kampung” girls are the best.

As Spring, and all other seasons, bring rain in Scotland, so does the advent of Ramadan in Indonesia almost inevitably produce whining articles in the Jakarta Post from spoilt lazy women who can’t look after their own families.

Ignoring the paradox of a communist-sympathising newspaper affording a platform for the worst examples of the “exploiting classes”, I’d like to dwell on the issue of women who have plenty of money to afford cooking and cleaning classes yet go into a paroxysm of despair when their pembantus (housekeepers) escape the endless domestic drudgery for a week or two to pulang kampung (go home to their villages) and enjoy the company of their loved ones.

It is not unusual for these rich women to move their entire families into hotels for the duration of the Holy Month, or disappear out of town to some luxury resort. Not that I begrudge them a vacation, but the reason for abandoning their homes is their sheer uselessness. And when they come back they’re just as slothful as before they went, re-energised only to resume their irresponsible gallivanting while their sons and daughters are washed, dressed and nourished by employees.

Please note I’m not having a go at working wives. If a couple choose to organize their lives to benefit from two incomes, then that is their choice and they need to make arrangements for their children to be looked after, and if you work all day, it is nice to have a meal waiting for you when you’ve waded through Jakarta’s traffic.

No, my target is the idle females who never work at all. Their kiddies are left in the care of “babysisters” while these gilded creatures swan around coffee-shops and engage in endless window-shopping (or the real thing) while over-worked maids mop and dust and bake and fry so the men of the house (and the said idlers) can have a home worth coming home to. What on earth possesses Indonesian men to marry such dead-beats?

Yes, of course they may be beautiful, and charming, and since their mothers were probably as dysfunctional as themselves, they can’t be blamed for their total lack of domestic skills, but surely if they are free all day, they can take some time to learn what they missed out on as they grew up? (And the government took pride in introducing such classes for migrant workers, so don’t tell me there are none available.)

But let’s forget Ramadan and ask why so many Indonesian women are brought up to be parasites, all year round. It’s not part of their genetic structure. You only have to walk around any backstreet to see Jakarta housewives who work their fingers to the bone to ensure all is spick and span on the home front and the children go off to school in good shape. Men who want good wives, spouses just as beautiful and charming as those pampered playthings I’m criticizing, but infinitely superior in that they’re competent at housewifery, need only stroll into the poor people’s neighbourhoods and find hundreds of capable blossoms just waiting to be plucked.

When I was still quite new here, I heard a nice young Indonesian lady who worked in a bank asking another expat, “why do bules (white expats) always prefer kampung girls?” I had no answer then, for I didn’t understand the question, but after almost nine years in the Big Durian, I can begin to see why. Kampung girls usually accept responsibility for their families. If they were transplanted to distant shores, they’d not be surprised at having to break sweat in the kitchen or lift a broom.

On the other hand, if some of these glamour-pusses we see waltzing around Senayan City or Taman Anggrek all day returned to live with their foreign husbands in those foreign lands, how could they adjust to what Western women take for granted – that if you have kids, you have to look after them, that if you aren’t obliged by employment to be out of doors all day, you should devote some of the time spent indoors to carrying out some basic housework. Yes, I know many Western women do go out to work, and good luck to them – I’m talking about the ones who don’t. And I’m not being “sexist” -whatever that means. I’d apply the same critique to house-husbands who shirk their chores too.

Being at home with young ones you love is not a burden but a joy. But many of Jakarta’s rich women as a rule don’t seem to think so. It’s more fun to sip cappuccino in Kemang cafes than change a nappy (diaper, for American readers), I agree, but parental duty should take precedence over the social whirl, benar?

So what is the explanation? For the rich women’s lack of shame at their indolence, and for the men’s utter lack of discrimination when they marry them?

Watching the numerous sinetron suggests that parents here often interfere intolerably with their offspring’s marital choice, coercing their young to marry within their own ‘social level’ regardless of their wishes. Admittedly, such soap operas are melo-dramatised, but perhaps they do reflect realities. While people mostly marry others from within their own milieu, there should be no parental sticky-beaking into such an important matter. A lot of young men would surely be far better off marrying a cute pembantu with a kind heart and culinary skills rather than being directed into the would-be “social wedding of the year” with a fatuous ding-a-ling who can’t boil an egg.

There is too much snobbery here, reflected on a political level by the indifference of the ruling class to the sufferings of the rest, whether it’s in mud-flow situations, or brutal evictions, or just life’s everyday injustice. The upper strata of society seem to regard the others as a race apart – or beneath.

As readers of my previous posts will be aware, I loathe communism but I can see why Marxist irrationality and class hatred can fester and grow in such circumstances. So my topic has ramifications far beyond the four walls of any household.

I await enlightenment from Indonesians of any class.

76 Comments on “Kampung Girls”

  1. Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Do you like to do a sex to the Kampung girl, Oigal ?

  2. Oigal says:

    So long away Assmad..and this is the climax of your cumback? Very disappointing..

    Could it be that our clever little numbnut is a closet snob as well…tsk tsk..watch out the next stage in your development is a liking for the older more scary mall rat..you know the one..the really high scary hair..the artificial whitened face (with the dirty great mole with the 2 inch hair growing out of it)..the rings on every finger of the hand that would sink the titanic..but hey that can hold a better conversation than a Kampung Girl….hooo ddddiiiii …hooooo

  3. fullmoonflower says:

    @ ET…

    I thought you were not serious… 😀

    I am sorry… I didn’t meant to break your heart…
    I only haven’t had an idea to get married yet…

    Anyway, I will finish my last tax investigation case for my company by the end of this month… and I have planned to go back home to my kampung, develop my own tax consultant office from there, maintain my parents’ business, and look after my daughter as well…

    Well, I admit that it’s more lovely to be a kampung woman for me..
    I’ve been living in this big city for over 18 years, but keep dreaming about go back home… and my dream will come true soon 🙂

  4. Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Just warming up, Seksi Mr. Oigals,

    If you mean me — yes, what the big hair lacks in other areas, she makes up for with authority and experience ! Grrrrr…owl !

  5. fullmoonflower says:

    oouuwwww….. !

    pakde Achmad’s little chow-chow is barking…. xixixixi 😆

  6. Eva says:

    Wanna know what “thought provoking issue” the so called classy Indonesian women who live in Washington DC area love to discuss at arisan, ramah-tamah after resepsi HUTRI, etc? Stories about some hunka-hunka burnin love white men who are also so friekin rich and brilliant, combination of George Clooney, Warren Buffet, and Einstein….real God’s gift to all women on earth, supreme divine……met ugly, desperately poor, and retarded pembantu in his rented Kemang dwelling. Every classy Indonesian woman knows such couple personally and disgusted by such union.

    People, I think that is a romantic and sweet love story.

  7. eden says:

    I’m with Eva and Oigal on this one..

    Classy Indonesian women, why so bitter? So what if some bule prefer a more humble, down to earth, low maintenance village woman to some city girl who is so up herself she has to remind people about how rich, classy and educated she is all the time.
    By the way, classism is a very, very bad thing!

    Why are we so hung up on issues like place of birth, educational level and bank balance anyway, isn’t it the inside of a person that is more important?
    Someone doesn’t have to be born in the city, have university degree and a fancy corporate job to be a good person.

  8. Dee Dee says:

    Oh dear oh dear,

    Ross- do you know that some of this kampung girl, when they get to marry their bules2 they turned into these mall ladies that you despise! Most of them soon adopt the neuve riche mentality – its so ironic! Sometimes they have to do that cause they have no choice. I know most Indonesian men who would rather die than being caught red handed going to the kitchen!! No choice for these kampung girls – they have to work and work to the bone!

    I disagree with ‘pembantu’ raising children of the family. I am saddened by this phenomena. I think for a family and marriage to work- BOTH parents need to take responsibility and take turn to take care each member of the family. Its easy for men to say that a woman must take care of their kids 24-7 – for those women out there who are raising a little toddler by themselves could testify to this. Usually the dad just take care of the kids during holiday/ weekend and off to travel for works (usually 2-3 weeks). If men do such things it is acceptable, but if the other way round, where the women travel for works and could not spend time at home due to their work demands – they are called selfish. The society put so much pressure to women to become a perfect mother.

    Btw- I have also observed many expat ladies that hire pembantu to take care of their children while galavanting accross their busy ‘social diary’ – a.k.a shopping, lunching and more shopping.

    So – the way people behave towards their children and marriage will depend on how much they value them – not because they are from Kampung or Not.

  9. rima says:

    @Eva, can’t agree more on your observation and opinion. I think I was commenting in the Dating Indonesian Girls how I can’t understand Indonesian women who have low opinions on other Indonesian women. Many of these ‘classy’ women judge other women, especially those who came from a poor family and who married rich and call them names (like ayam, for example). I think it’s pure jealousy, because at the core of the humankind, we all want to be the best, the most beautiful, the most educated, the richest and we get annoyed when someone from a ‘lesser’ status dares to race them, especially when this kampung person wins. (Yet I will always cheer the kampung people, cos I just like to see snobbish rich people pissed off..)

    Just like you, I feel there are genuine love stories behind the rich white/brown/blue guy who married a poor kampung girl, not all, but I’m sure there are several.

    And why shouldn’t the kampung girl aim high and better her life? Everybody has a right to do so, not just the rich. Of course there are kampung girls who are annoying like Dee Dee said, but that’s just normal, there are also loads of rich educated women who are annoying and think that they are so above everybody else (especially their pembantus) that it really makes me want to puke.

    I’ve seen a rich bitch driving their posh cars with their pembantus sitting in the backseat cos they don’t want to be seen sitting beside their pembantus. The stupidest thing ever! Cos by sitting in the backseat these pembantus become the nyonya, and the rich bitches are actually their personal chaffeur! I wonder if these rich girls know that.. lol

    As for diplomat wives, most diplomat wives here in Europe are the same as those you meet in DC (or anywhere else in the world), they’re all pradas and LV outside but empty inside. The only thing they know is where to get antiques or branded items for less at factory outlets and gossip about other people.

    Kinda like a bottle of piss, golden and shiny from the outside but stinky and foul on the inside..

  10. silvestre says:


    Once, I met a diplomat’s wife who was stationed in Italy, I asked her opinion on so many different subjects about the country, started from the ancient history…Cicero, Marcus Aurelius….don’t know. Renaissance? Papal Court, Rafael….don’t know. Okay…where can I find Ezra Pound and Olga Rudge’s lot on Isola San Michele?…still don’t know…

    what different subjects? it’s all history and art…just because other people don’t have the interest, it doesn’t mean they are stupid or less knowledgeable than you. I’m not defending the poor wife but simply try to correct your poor way of telling how knowledgeable you are and how stupid other party is if he/she doesn’t possess the same knowledge you have. I know that since the wife was stationed in Italy you’d expect her to have been looking around and digging out the history and art of Italy which are grand, I know, but take me as an example, I only know some parts of it right now. I might have known them better before, but as I don’t really have any interest in it, I simply forgot it all! The story is so much different if you ask me about the crisis, the environmental and economical, world politics, IT world etc other than history (I know a lot about Indonesian, German and world histories and lil bit here and there not too much) or especially art which has nothing to do with music. I can’t really enjoy gazing at paintings and sculptures and so on…

  11. Ross says:

    DeeDee, I had actually no idea this thread was still running but noticed silvestre had just posted on it today so thought I’d have a look. I am well aware that some of the ‘kampung girls’ who marry bules turn into snotty little bints like those they once worked for, and that is a shame.
    You can see them swanning about in certain places, usually upmarket bule restos and cafes, and they are just as tiresome as those born to wealth.
    But that does not refute my main contention, that a guy who wants a nice unassuming wife or girl-friend is much better advised to find candidates in the kampung, where women know from early on how to cook, lookafter a home and raise kids.
    Rich women generally, not all of course, are illiterate in culinary terms, know only how to dlegate, not do, household chores, and abandon their children to baby-sisters.
    If some kampung girls go off the rials, at least they were once on them.
    And before the usual subjects wade in with assertions that they prefer mouthy opinionated women who can’t boil an egg, okay, to each his own.

  12. andrey says:

    …and ofcourse,
    rich, educated women usually knows that bules who visit indonesia can be many thing in their home country.. they can be a son of a rich bussinessman, heir to a bussiness empire, but they most likely are just a nobody taking advantages of the exchange rates.
    they can be just a trash collector back home.
    With kampung girl, it is just much more easy.

  13. Ross says:

    Bules come in many varieties, andrey, but in general they are not snobby. If we find people fun or interesting, we don’t even think about social class -but yes, there are exceptions.
    I have worked in both manual and white-collar jobs, though not yet a trash collector, though when I wear my bright orange shirt, friends suggest I seek a career in the public cleaning service!

  14. devilsadvocate says:


    re: “famous among guys “why you choose carton of milk while you could get the whole cow your self?””

    … and I always thought, the original is:
    “Why do you buy a cow, if you would just like to drink a glass of milk”

  15. muddyfunkster says:

    lazy, snobbish, arrogant, ignorant, boring, pretentious, superficial, insecure, paranoid, self-absorbed, tasteless, ostentatious, jealous, envious, self-serving, humourless zombies.

  16. Udiman says:

    Have to agree with a lot you say, and as for guys being scared of having their egos crushed by the so called educated women, I don’t think so, ask some if France is a country in the West or East of Europe and they might answer with Paris, as a friend of mine who works in education in Jakarta said once, a lot of them are too lazy to study properly and think the kampus is mainly for social meetings, and should it be doubtful they will pass their grades then their rich father can always slip an envelope full of cash to the teacher.
    He also noted the nicest most hard working students, male and female came from the poorer family’s, whilst those he termed tidak sopan or norak came from the richer ones.

    I have noticed myself these over made up, dysfunctional, fake’s sitting in coffee shops, greeting friends with fake kisses to each cheek, acting like their poop don’t smell, their arrogance oozes in the way they even order a coffee, clutching their silly looking handbags they think are so cool .. sombong banget .. and probably most of them have done over some guy for money.

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