“Kenapa harus bule?” (means “Why Bule?”) is one of the most-asked questions people give to me lately ( in the first place is question about how I can stay skinny –..–” ). The term ‘bule’ (read: boo -lé) means non-Indonesians, mostly referred to white people. If they’re not white but non-Indonesians, they are still referred as bule, added with the name of country they’re from, for instance; bule Arab, bule Korea, etc. Historically, it was a derogatory towards white people, but it’s changed a lot, maybe because most Asians adore fair skin or it’s the dollar effects.
This post is inspired by a newly released Indonesian movie with the same title, “Kenapa Harus Bule”, that tells about a brown-skinned, black-haired Indonesian woman in her early 30s who’s looking for a man to be with but she’s been told many times that her look is not up to Indonesian standard of beauty and only bules find her beautiful. Anyway, this post is not a movie review, because I haven’t watched it yet. It’s my own opinions as an Indonesian woman who hasn’t dated Indonesians for years and because of that, people like me, can easily got labelled as a Bule Hunter. Bule Hunter is such a phenomenon that I don’t deny it exists, especially in touristy areas and has negative connotations because they’re mostly only after the dollars, or other prestige or any other silly reasons. Of course there are also people like me who just happen to have/ have had non-Indonesian partners because we really fall in love with the persons they are, not because they’re bules, it just happened to be a part of their identities. I mean, come on, me?? hunt?? I’m the fox, baby! LOL.
In Indonesia, it’s common to give stereotypes to Indonesian who’s dating or married to a bule, especially if the bule is Caucasian. These stereotypes are more easily thrown to Indonesian women who date bule than Indonesian men who date bule. Why?? Because that’s just the world of patriarchy works, so sad but it’s still the world we live in.
I’ve dated (and flirted with) both locals and bules, from my experience, I can say that we’re all the same in many ways regardless the country, race, religions, etc, there’s only one race which is human race. You can find douchebags Indonesian guys, you can find douchebags bule guys. There are good, open-minded bule guys, there are also good open-minded Indonesian guys. But yeah, I do admit that there are some traits that can be easily found in westerners, there are some traits that can be easily found in Indonesian guys, it depends on what you’re looking for. I mean, I’m 27 y.o and just like most 27 y.o, we’ve known our selves well, we already know which person will go along well with us, we know which one will make us feel comfortable without being someone we’re not. And in my case, local guys who have that are either in relationship with other people or don’t find me attractive. Hiks!
Of course in dating we’re trying to find someone we feel most comfortable with who has the same values and points of views. I think it’s kinda obvious for people who know me, I don’t think like many Indonesians especially from the ways I look at gender roles. Well probably it’s because in Indonesia (especially in small towns) and many Asian countries, at home parents really give samples of gender roles, home chores are mostly given to girls and young girls are told about how important marriage is since we’re 16, how to be a good wife, how to find husband, etc. I’m too rebel for that. For a small example, I witness a lot how wives are exhausted taking care of the house and kids all day and when the husbands come home, they asked the wives to make coffee for them. I mean, are you serious?? You have legs, hands, and brain, why don’t you do your sh*t by yourself? And if I speak my mind about it, I will be called ‘a challenge’ or ‘disturbed’ or whatever that sounds like I got wrong education. Meanwhile in bule’s culture and countries, maybe it’s not easy to afford a housemaid, so they’re accustomed to take care of their selves and don’t feel right to ask somebody to do small basic stuffs for them, like making coffee. Some bule guys I was seeing earlier complained because I always gave drink to the guys first before I gave for myself, they asked why I was doing that and they wanted us to be equal.
In Indonesian relationship, women are expected to sacrifice once they get in relationship or marriage. That women are the ones who more likely to give up their career and dreams in the relationship. I disagree with this, why can’t we both grow together? In a broken family with a working mom in Indonesia, woman will be the first to be judged for her husband cheating on her, that’s crazy, if she’s not the one who cheats how could that be her faults? Raising kids and saving a relationships are the responsibilities of everyone in the relationship, not only one side which is determined by gender.
Other thing that I find very obvious is the way of expressing love. I don’t know why in Indonesia it’s so common to believe that if you love someone you need to forbid him/ her from many stuffs to show that you love and care about them. I’ve been told many times by local guys (event though in friendly situations) about how to think, how to dress, which to befriend with and what I think the worst is how and what to dream. Every time I give them signals of interest, they always start to show this symptom. Meanwhile with bule, I feel they’re more free, they may disagree with what I do, but they will not just forbid me right away. I feel more loved when I am given trust rather than limitations without logical explanation.
Also I don’t think I belong to the attractive category in Indonesian standards which prefer lighter skin. I admit that this ever affected me when I was a teenager that I tried so badly to whiten my skin. But deep down I’ve always found sun-kissed skin very sexy, I was just afraid people didn’t find me attractive because I didn’t match the standards. I went out with some locals who told me that they liked me because I was fair and if I was darker, they wouldn’t even try to approach me. Well it’s fine for me and I respect their honesty, we all have taste. What bothers me is when they try to control and make fun of me when my skin got darker after an outdoor activity. One day I posted a photo on my soc-med of my hand holding my then BF’s hand, you know what response I got from my local friends (guys and girls)? “Cihud why is your hand darker than your BF’s hand? He has a more beautiful hand than yours.”, seriously as if I didn’t deserve him because of my shade. I know it was joking, but still didn’t find it funny. So I feel more appreciated by bules that find me physically exotic (that’s what they say). Not only physically, but also intellectually that these guys who I hanged out with always said that the most attractive asset I have is not my skin, face, hair or look, but my mindset and passion. If I was just an exotic brown-skinned but didn’t think like this, didn’t have any other drives in life and only accepted what guys give to me, they wouldn’t fall for me. While many local guys tend to see this as a threat that needs to be shut down.
Also Indonesian guys tend to be more in a hurry when it comes to relationship, they like to plan about marriage at very early stage of relationship for many reasons (not all, but so common), most common reason is age. I kinda see it dangerous to only want things without really knowing why you want it, and I don’t want to be married with someone just because of his fears; fears of age, fears of time, family, etc.
For most Indonesian guys, age is an important consideration. Woman closing to 30 y.o is closing to her game-over. You can be smart, good looking and successful woman, but if you’re over 25, it’s like you’re over 52. Meanwhile, age has never been an issue with bule.
The way we see concept of success also influences how people behave in the relationship and how he/she expects the other to behave. I personally feel that local guys prefer their women to be more needy to them. While for me that is not cute. I always got complaints from local guys for being not needy. One very little example is shown by so many Indo girls speaking in baby voice, like literally baby voice, when they’re with the BFs. Every time I tried this with bule, I successfully got cringe in their eyes, like, “Babe, did you hit your head in a car accident?”
So, based on the points above, I think my point is that everyone has his/her own ‘market’. Your market may be different from mine. There are billions of billions people in the world, there are so many places. To limit based on specific area is like wasting opportunities, nobody can guarantee that the person who was destined for you was born in the same city, district or country. Maybe he/she was born somewhere in other parts of the world, maybe he/she was born right in the same neighbourhood with you, who knows. So we can’t judge other people’s path that’s different from ours. For many people, they find it easier to understand partners who are from the same city, country or customs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply to me, I find understanding Indonesians harder, or maybe it was just bad luck for me to meet only the difficult ones. Nobody can know whether I will end up with a bule or local, nobody knows. Also, to generalize all bules based on race and countries of origins is wrong, they may look similar in our eyes, but they have different passports, different habits, different many things. There were locals who treated me bad, there were bules who treated me bad. I will share about the common misconceptions about dating with bules in different writing later. The more we meet people from different backgrounds, the more we feel that we’re all the same, that we want to be loved, understood and appreciated. We just want to find which one does us more.