Yin & Yang: Bules & Pembantus

Feb 18th, 2010, in Opinion, Society, by

Expat men in Indonesia and their love affairs with lower class women, opposites attract.

The Friend,

Late one night as my Kampung friends and I were guarding our neighbourhood, the age-old question came up: why does the Bule Man (Bulman), like the Pembantu (maid) face ? We contemplate many such questions as I tap on my Bongo drums and my friends sip their Kratingdaeng, staring out from our little pos jaga (guard post) at the corner of the street under the Jambu tree.

Yin YangIndeed, it is like Yin and Yang: white (or pink), tall, educated, from the city, versus dark, short, from the village.  For me, the Bulman’s taste is his own business; that is how our Indonesian system of Bhinekka Tunggal Ika, or Unity in Diversity works.  But many big-haired society Matrons, funky university hipsters, and ordinary Indonesian people alike wonder about the strange attraction of the White Man for his maid.

At our guard post, we try to help the country, so for you, my Indonesia Matters friends, I return to this burning question.

Thang D. NguyenMany writers ever addressed the Bule-Pembantu phenomenon before.  The prominent columnist and thinker Thang D. Nguyen ever wrote about Westerners and maids, putting the attraction down to the law of relativity. Mr. Thang defines Pembantu characteristics as,

a dark complexion, buck teeth, and a high forehead typically found among remote mountain villagers in Java

adding that his Indonesian friend finds such features,

not beautiful.

But, Mr. Thang says:

Beauty, like many things in life, is bound by the rule of relativity.  In other words, what one man considers beautiful is ugly in the eyes of another.

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere and Chatosphere, Java Jive, and Unspun, and Detik, have all discussed the Yin and Yang syndrome.

The Detik chat is an online version of thoughts going through the minds of many Indonesians as they see a fifty-ish Om-Om, or even a debonair well-dressed Bulman mas mas (young man), with someone who looks like a rejected audition from the 1970s classic film Si Inem Pelayan Seksi (“Inem the Seksi Server”). Si Inem was like an Indonesian Cinderella, or the 1990s Julia Roberts film ‘Pretty Woman’, where the poor girl gets the prince.  (Personally I want to see Julia Perez do a Dangdut version of Pretty Woman – Astaga and Aduhai !)

Here are the thoughts of my neighborhood watch group and hang-out friends.

The Bule cannot find it in his own country.

bossyEver since Bule Belanda (Bulbel) came to the Spice Islands to trade nutmeg, Bule has ever come to my country to find something he doesn’t have.  In his country, the woman is tall, White, likes to argue and not follow what he says.  She threaten him with divorce and instead of being allowed to perform manly night-guard duties, like us, he must do housework while she watches “Desperate Housewives”.  Maybe for Bule with his maid it is different.

Opposites Attract

memperbaiki keturunanI ever read that primates seek to make up for shortcomings in their genetic makeup by finding a mate with different DNA characteristics: thus opposites attract.  Maybe the maid wants to improve her bloodline (memperbaiki keturunan).  Bule subconsciously does likewise.  Just like Bhinekka Tunggal Ika teaches us, there is unity in diversity.

Beer Goggles (Alcohol Induced Judgement Lapse)

Friend, we Betawi warriors don’t drink much more than the occasional shot of Arak in our Kratingdaeng, so we are not experts in beer drinking.  But for hundreds of years, Bule has soaked himself in gin, rum, or recently beer. In fact, friend according to Mike Dash, author of the history ‘Batavia’s Graveyard‘, there was one tavern for every seven Dutchmen in Batavia in the 1770s.  Drunken opponents – as well as Silat – was one reason the Betawi hero Si Pitoeng was so easily able to defeat Tuan Scott (see clip below).

At the popular Bule meeting places like Jl. Felatehan Blok M, Bule crashes into everything – the walls, the Preman, and, yes, the one who looks like Maid.  Sometimes true love can blossom and he will marry her.  Then the relationship becomes more like one and two above.

A Call For Discussion

Remember, that not all Bule are alike.  There are short, tall, and even vagrant and poor – known locally as ‘Bule Jaksa’. In turn, some Bule marry the Cinetron star, big-hair high society matron, or local aristocrat, be it from Bali or Java or whereever.  Friend, that is the beauty of Bhinekka Tunggal Ika.

There are many mystery in Indonesia.  Why wasn’t a single member of Dono, Kasino Indro given a cabinet post ?  Does Wiranto, Hanura chairman and retired general, wear a toupe ?  Why is Ulfa so annoying ?

Friend, our late-night guard post Bongo session was an open discussion.  I now call on You, Indonesia Matters reader to share your own insights and thoughts on the Yin-Yang phenomena.

161 Comments on “Yin & Yang: Bules & Pembantus”

  1. diego says:

    Another mystery: how did Ulfa manage to snatch a bule?

  2. bs says:

    Dear Dikkiman,

    I intended to give the subject some serious thought. But unfortunately I was already laughing out loud at “The friend, …”


    She threaten him with divorce and instead of being allowed to perform manly night-guard duties, like us, he must do housework while she watches “Desperate Housewives”.

    It looks like your an expert on bulwom as well. And I have to admit that in winter I’d rather do inside housework than perform outside night-guard duties 😉

  3. gUnitLA says:

    A couple of years ago I went to central Sumatra on a business trip to check out some palm oil plantations. I had the pleasure of staying over at one of my uncles (tulang) home.

    Lo and behold he had two housemaids in their early 20’s. One of them is drop dead motherf***in gorgeous…like really HOT! Suffice to say, I had an instant boner (white soft silky skin, sexy long hair, very slim and petite figure, very feminine looking. Contrary to whatever crap that douchebag nguyen was sayin’) and a great cook to top it off.

    I often joke around with other relatives of why does the maid is prettier than the majikan’s wife, lol. I’ve had one of those moments where I think to myself…“man, what if I just take her away and bring her to LA. That would be great! Home-cooked meals everyday”

    Now, on to more serious topic:

    In his country, the woman is tall, White, likes to argue and not follow what he says. She threaten him with divorce and instead of being allowed to perform manly night-guard duties, like us, he must do housework while she watches “Desperate Housewives”.

    The typical bitch above wants to have her cake and eat it too.

    Sad, but true. This social phenomena is called “Feminism” and is very pervasive in the United States. I see it every day. Feminism gives women a false sense of independence and equality (in a different way). Do you guys ever wonder why the divorce rate here is 50% and climbing? It’s at its highest ever since. This is what typically happens: bule man fall in love with sexy looking, and pretty bule woman, they get married, have kids, then it goes downhill from there.

    After first child birth, bule woman cuts her hair short and now that she has a man trapped in marriage, she doesn’t need to maintain her pretty, sexy appearance and stops taking care of herself (gets fat, wear little or no make-up, cut hair short and look like a butch, and watch desperate housewife, soap operas, etc., all day). To top it off, she demands the husband to help with household duties such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking care of kids, etc.

    What…you don’t want to cook, clean, and raise our kids? Ok, how bout this: I do the housework, and you go to work and try to run the company, or build a bridge, or work under the sun all day doing construction, or do any manly work? What…you can’t or don’t want to do it? So you just want to stay home all day and do nothing…you’re useless! GTFO!

    After an 8-9 hours working day not including the 2 hour commute, bule man just wants to go home to a pretty sexy wife (so that he is less inclined to cheat and go after other single sexy women) and some good home cooked meals. But instead, he comes home to a fat bule woman that nag, nag, nag, and some nagging, complaining and ohh..yea, PIZZA! WTF!!

    So bule man thinks about divorce…hmm…, loose your home and live in a shitty apartment, 18 years of child support, and a lifetime of alimony (which means half of his paycheck goes to ex-wife). Both option sucks, stay with a crappy wife or divorce.

    So bule man goes to Indonesia and find pretty and sexy housemaids that ACCEPT the traditional role of a wife. Bule man go to work and bring home the bacon, while the wife stays home and do all of her housework HAPPILY while staying slim and looking sexy all day (how do you guys do it? Is it the jamu? Or the senam pagi?). The way I see it, the husband and wife perform their respective functions and now they are EQUAL in VALUE.

    Yes, it’s old school way, but guess what? It works. Please do tell me what is the divorce rate back in 20’s, 30’s or 40’s or even 50’s? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that it’s very low.

    It’s not that bule man can’t GET a bule woman back home. It’s that there is no QUALITY functional women here back home. They’re all overseas where feminism hasn’t taken root yet (and I hope it never will).

    Granted, there are some bule guys who are just bad with women 🙂 or just have no game at all

    And for the record, I am not old, bald, fat, ugly, nor divorced.

    I am gagah perkasa…hahaha…..

  4. Farah says:

    @ diego

    Another mystery: how did Ulfa manage to snatch a bule?

    the same way as Titi DJ, Ayu Azhari sisters, Anggun C Sasmi, Maudy Koesnady and lots more indoensian woman i guess…. its not something that should be puzzled down.

    Its almost a common thing. And they are not pembantu look i think ! Titi DJ and Maudy was one of the most beautiful indonesian woman on her time. Same with Azhari sisters! so i don’t think all bule after the pembantu looks.

    Its just some bule have.. odd preferences thats all.

    Remember beauty is universal, what you think ugly might be pretty for others.. hehehe

  5. sobhana says:

    I just had to read this blog and again I’m stunned. How dare you Dikman? Emang ada ya trend tampang pembantu? kok gitu si? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Your kind of mentality is exactly why human rights movement will never get anywhere in our “developing” country, in particular. Until you have respect for one another and not discriminate/stereotype, Indonesia tidak akan pernah benar-benar bersatu. Hilangkan prejudisme-mu!

  6. Dikkiman Sujengkol says:

    @ Sobhana Yth.,

    You are mistaken.

    LIke the Proklamator Sukarno I love Indonesian woman in all her forms, big, small, tonggos, item, dekil….Astaga and Aduhai !

    I am also an ardent follower and practioner of Pancasilla and the Unity of Indonesia. Even though I am Betawi, a Bongo and air guitar player, and part-time parking collector, I accept as my guru in Seksiness Achmad Sudarsono, a central Javanese.

    I say to you now, Seksi Friend. Merdeka !

  7. sobhana says:

    so please de, jangan menghina gitu dong, Pancasila L-nya satu.

  8. sobhana says:

    beropini juga jangan muter-muter de, anggota DPR ya?

  9. Dikkiman Sujengkol says:

    oh, yes, sorry, Subhana, of course, I am better at the manly arts of neighborhood guarding than typing, I apologise. But Subahana, I think you need to work on the gender-neutral art of reading. In my article, I was merely describing the Bule taste. I am very liberal with my affections… Astaga and ADUHAAAAIII !

  10. sobhana says:

    you called the woman pembantu-look!! copot aja tu kacamata pembantu.

  11. Dikkiman Sujengkol says:


    Why don’t you have a look at the conversation thread on Detik. I think a lot of Indonesians have noticed the taste of the Bulman, not just me. I’m not saying there’s anything bad about the maid look – that’s the point of the article.

    Maybe you think there’s something bad about looking like a maid ?

  12. sobhana says:

    i know there IS such a job = housekeeping, and seems like you’re the one implying there is a certain look that comes with that. wtf.

  13. Oigal says:


    Don’t waste your time, its just another sad little troll pretending to be a real Indonesian. Some trolls are amusing and funny. Others not worth the time of day, such as this. Its all been done before and much better.

    I am surprised it got an article though, the qaulity control filter must need cleaning.

  14. Dikkiman Sujengkol says:

    ‘Begini, ‘Nak

    I meant no disrespect to your profession. Not all maids look alike. They come in all shapes, sizes and varieties of the basic template. But you have to admit there’s a widespread perception of Selerbul or Idabul. You must know what I mean by Idabul. I say let a thousand flowers blossom ! It seems to make Bulman happy. It seems to make the Inems of the world happy.

  15. Dikkiman Sujengkol says:

    Oh, Sobhana – Oigal is a Bulman, by the way.

  16. sobhana says:

    well i houseclean part-time i guess yes. i clean my own apartment, and when my bf comes over…he helps too, and then we reward each other.

  17. Dikkiman Sujengkol says:

    Well, Ibu Sobhana Yth., why don’t you ask yr bf what he thinks the typical taste of the Bule is.

  18. Unspun says:

    Here we go again. Am reminded of the proverb: There is nothing new under the sun; only the history that you do not know. We all know that Indonesia is heaven for the loser type bules who all of a sudden find themselves transformed into, as the Japanese would call it, Charisma man. Indonesia is more neutral for the Jock bule who’s no stranger to admirers. (and if you are a bule woman, kasihan deh as the choices here are pretty paltry, either among bules or Indonesian men) Now lets once again se the loser types expose their Liberal hearts with the cliche arguments 😉

  19. Wildrosewood says:

    Lol my ass off….
    what a “bitch slap!”

  20. Dikkiman Sujengkol says:

    Mr Unspuns, I also ever write here about Bule Woman or Bulwom.

  21. sobhana says:

    i live in the states, so diversity is pretty common. we’re all pretty advanced over here. i’m dating someone with a non-judgmental personality.

  22. Dikkiman Sujengkol says:

    Yes, I hear those inbred Dwaynes and Marilous who marry their cousins on the Appalachian trail are very advanced.

  23. sobhana says:

    well i can only speak on behalf of my circle of friends, and to my own defense i must admit some of them can be somewhat a tad bit unconventional but hey it’s cool. we don’t judge.

  24. Unspun says:

    @sobhana: Everybody that hasn’t had a lobotomy judges. There is a world of difference, however, whether they choose to be judgmental about it.

  25. diego says:

    @ diego

    Another mystery: how did Ulfa manage to snatch a bule?

    the same way as Titi DJ, Ayu Azhari sisters, Anggun C Sasmi, Maudy Koesnady and lots more indoensian woman i guess…. its not something that should be puzzled down.

    Yes, you’re right, they all have booby trap.

  26. BrotherMouzone says:

    @ Pak gUnitLA

    Suffice to say, I had an instant boner (white soft silky skin, sexy long hair, very slim and petite figure, very feminine looking)

    Those are some unusual adjectives to describe a “boner”.

  27. sobhana says:

    LOL OMG BrotherMouzone…DAT WAS HILLARIOUS!!!!!!! LOL
    Unspun: spoken like a true scholar!! i see colors yes, that’s what makes it beautiful no, like a rainbow.

  28. wildrosewood says:

    Bule jakarta are nothing to Bule Bali.
    Bule Bali are more sexy, fit and gorgeous and smells nice too.
    Bule Jakarta is more to oom2 bule with giant beer belly. You can find them around Kemang and Cilandak

    Anyway, I have experience dating with Bule Bali, well not exactly dating, perhaps you can say just “icip-icip” or holiday flings. If i want it to be raunchy and dirty and just for one nite stand then i’ll pick blonde guy and some of them are younger than me. YUMMY! and if i want a suave romance, i’ll pick professional from Europe such as Spain, German and Croatia. And i dont date bule karatan either in Bali or Jakarta….oh hell no!

    Bule Karatan is the bule who came to Indonesia for vacation for the first time en then falling in love with Indonesia (Food, Ladies, The way we live etc) and then they decided to move to Indonesia, either to Bali, Jogya or Jakarta. And for example, if they are from Europe they will get social security money monthly which they can use to have a nice life in Indonesia, and f*ck the girl around, party, etc. And once they are contaminated by AYAMS or maybe dating with the kampung girl, they change the way they used to live, think and act.

    Anyways, I dont date bule in Jakarta because i think they are already contaminated by “AYAMS”. Their brain and the way they live is contaminated. Screw them.

    27 y.o

    PS: Screw y’all ayams!!!!

  29. bs says:


    Advanced in the US? Nice joke. I remember my half Dutch, half British niece moving there and upsetting the whole neighbourhood because she was dating a black guy.
    By the way, how do those Dutch words end up in your posts?

  30. ET says:

    Bule jakarta are nothing to Bule Bali.
    Bule Bali are more sexy, fit and gorgeous and smells nice too.

    Thank you, wildrosewood.

    “If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.
    If you’re not into yoga, if you have half-a-brain.
    If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape.
    You’re the love that I’ve looked for, come with me, and escape.”

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