What “Bule Hunters” Want

Friday, 29 August 2014 - 16:21:40 WIB
By : Sebastian Partogi | Category: Culture - 28660 hits - 1 share
Indonesian women who have Western partners or husbands are often met with negative, sometimes harsh judgment from people around them, from gold diggers to exotic-looking harlots.

​When you see an Indonesian woman with brown complexion walking together with a Western man, for example, you might hear responses like, “Why on Earth would a bule want to be with a woman with a tampang babu?”

Bule is an Indonesian slang word for Westerners, while tampang babu means the face of a domestic help.

Irked by such stereotypes, Jakarta-based writer Elisabeth Oktofani decided to write  a book called Bule Hunter: Kisah Wanita Pemburu Bule (Bule Hunter: Tales of Women who Pursue Western Men). Published by Rene Books this year, it is based on her interviews with several women with Western partners to understand their motivation in pursuing the men.

“All this time, we have heard only the negative stereotypes about the women. To be fair, I think we need to listen to these women’s voices. So I’m trying to provide space for them in this book,” Elisabeth, who is fondly known as Fani, says.

No stranger to the issue, Fani has been married to a Canadian man for three years. After spending some time doing her research, she concludes the three things driving Indonesian women to pursue Western lovers: money, sex and love.

So, the stereotype that some Indonesian women go after Western men for their money is not a hundred percent wrong after all.

“Let’s face it, a lot of Western men who work in Indonesia are quite prosperous. This happens because they have privileges like higher salaries than local people,” she says, adding that when these men return to their home country, they may not be as privileged as they are in Indonesia.

Because of this, some Indonesian women who are “tired of being poor”, or those who may have a chance of a decent career but without the necessary motivation, choose to cling to Western men who provide them with a comfortable lifestyle.

“These women can have things they couldn’t afford before. They can now travel to different places. It’s a very comfortable life,” the former Jakarta Globe reporter says.
But things could turn ugly for these women when they have too high an expectation.

“Some of them had dreams of moving to their lover’s countries, where they would live a prosperous life. Unfortunately, as I have said before, a lot of westerners are not as prosperous in their own countries. They can live a lavishly in Indonesia thanks to the privileges given to them as expats here,” she says.

Real disappointment follows the high expectation when they find out that their European or American lives are not as glamorous as they had fantasized.

And then there is the darker side of this phenomenon: human traffickers who recruit Asian women by deceiving them with promises of romance with Western men.

Money and a lavish lifestyle, however, are not the sole reasons why some Indonesian women are so intent in finding a Western lover. Sex takes priority for some women.
“Some women that I interviewed said theyfound Western men to be sexy,” says Fani.

The women also feel more comfortable because Western men are more conscious about the importance of safe sex than Indonesian men.

“They are never reluctant about putting on a condom if their sexual partners ask them to do so. This makes Indonesian women feel safer when having sex with them, because safe sex is not just about avoiding pregnancy. Getting infected with sexually transmitted diseases is definitely scarier than getting pregnant,” she says.

Some of the women Fani interviewed said that Western men were also less judgmental on various sexual expressions than Indonesian men, though that is not always the case, as some can be judgmental too.
Finally, after a few years of relationship, the women might eventually find what they call “love”.

“Eventually, what motivates people to maintain a relationship is the fact that they find a good match in their partners, whether it’s because they have the same interests or they can discuss so many things with ease,” she says.
Indeed, this is the most important aspect in maintaining a relationship, regardless of the ethnicity or the origin of the partner. Her message: when choosing a life partner don’t confine yourself to people from one race or ethnicity.

“I used to be exclusively attracted to Western men too, but after I got married to one for several years, I came to realize that no matter where your partner comes from, the most important thing is the chemistry you have with him,” she says.

 About Sebastian Partogi
Sebastian Partogi is a feminist writer living in Jakarta. 

Got an opinion on this issue? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.

Related Articles
Katadia | 30 August 2014 | 14:56:41 WIB
The writer was irked by stereotypes, and reportedly, that was why she chose to start writing this book. But the article suggested that her research confirms the stereotypes of Indonesian women marrying up, (that, plus, sex). Am I reading this right? *bingung*
Miska | 30 August 2014 | 18:10:54 WIB

Yeah, I see your point. But it said here that it's "not a hundred percent wrong after all." I want to buy this book, though. Simply because I want to hear those bule hunters' side of the story. And kudos for the writer for being bold enough to raise this issue in the first place.
Londo man | 01 September 2014 | 20:13:10 WIB
I'm a bule totok that's been "hunted" for over 20 years in Indonesia and had the "why does the bule like tampank pembokat" conversation with dozens of girls who have gien be some really smart reasons and answers.

I should point out that is actually seems to be a new phenomena. Traditionally in jaman dulu western guys married belastran, manado, ambon serani. Now they marry jawa, bali, betawi. Must be something diferent in the water nowdays.

andromeda | 04 September 2014 | 12:51:09 WIB
It's interesting.
I never thought to be bule hunter for love for the first time. . I hunt only nl speaking bule for my practice. .. as I need the real accent to speak nl..the fact that I'm in love to American man is beyond my imagination haha
JakeCent | 04 September 2014 | 15:26:27 WIB
Seems like the trouble with "Bule Hunters" in Jakarta is that even when they catch their Bule, they're still constantly hunting...

Without fail, almost every Indonesian woman I've seen with a western boyfriend can't help her eyes popping wide and sneakily checking me out multiple times when they see me. This is WHILE her BF is on her arm..!

Not cool girls.

JakeCent | 05 September 2014 | 01:34:05 WIB
And I don't mean to be arrogant with that comment - I'm nothing special by any means. But I feel sorry for the boyfriend if he's with a girl who seems to be constantly on the lookout for an "upgrade".

I guess the answer is to be discerning, and screen girls on their values to make sure you don't end up with one who's just looking for an easy ride. Then again, maybe some guys fully know what they're entering into when they get with a "Bule Hunter". Live and let live.. :)

koolfriday | 06 September 2014 | 07:53:38 WIB
If the writer talks about only money, love and sex as the conclusion to what all these bule hunters look for in the expats then it's so basic, cuz those are what women look for in men generally anyway.
For instance, she maybe interviewed only a group of women who didn't have money so it seems that they look like gold diggers. But what about them who have enough or even more but still prefers expats?

I thought there's more excitement added to this particular book than just money, sex and love. Obviously those three you could find in any races in the world.
amoy | 06 September 2014 | 14:01:49 WIB
Hi Andromeda, we have the same experience hahaha... never look for a bule as my husband... but maybe indonesian men can't cope with my open minded and modern mindset (maybe)... I found that I xan easily talk and argue with bules hehehe
Claudia Paramita Idrus | 07 September 2014 | 18:27:08 WIB
Waduhhh, masa sih segitunya pola pikir Wanita Indonesia untuk mendekati Pria Bule???? A VERRRYYY BIG QUESTION FOR ME??? Untuk Saya pribadi tidak begitulah, Pria Bule ataupun Pria Indonesia, saya rasa sama saja deh, Pria Bule They have Dick same like Pria Indonesia, have Dick too, Yang Brengsek ya BRENGSEK, Yang Baik Hati ya BAIK HATI. Tidak semuanya Wanita Indonesia berpikiran seperti itu deh Mak'E. Pria Bule yang numpang hidup di Indonesia dan jadi penduduk gelap juga ada kelesss. Haadehhh koprol + jumpalitan sambil teriak Ou La La Ou Chitahhhhh dehhh saya kalau gitu.
menteng | 08 September 2014 | 13:14:41 WIB
it s bit sad that women here take the short cut by fXXXXthem selves way up. Bule are seen as a product while the guy himself thinks he s the king! Even though she knows he will be hunted for by many other desperate girls. Jake cent has a point, girls who have a bule in a public space tend to scan the area around them for other meat..
sari musdar | 08 September 2014 | 13:52:35 WIB
As an author unfortunately I have to say this, "Too strereotype".

The writer should widen her research scope and interview more people from many level and many kind of environment, but she is not wrong if she only focus on "Bule hunter"

Some Indonesian women met expatriate by coincident while they worked at multinational company or studied aboard while obtaining scholarship it is pure love and destiny.

and not all indonesian women who married to bule should have exotic tanning skin..My sister has chinese look and white pale skin

Two of my elder sisters married to "bule" who never worked or stayed long in Indonesia, one of them is senior journalist -married in age 32. I my self ever worked at the biggest gold mining site located at highlands of Papua, since I speak english fluently and many expatriates there from canada, US, Aussie, and female employees very rare, many of Indonesian female married to expatriate.
sari musdar | 08 September 2014 | 13:53:57 WIB
Bule hunter will have shock culture when her husband/ BF back to his country knowing that the standard life is quite different compare to when they still live in Indonesia. They should adapt with the regulation, custom, be independent, learn cooking etc. If they only hunt luxurious life, they should cope it first.

some bule thinks indonesian/ asian women are still obey to their husband, can be a good house wife so some of them also looking for Indonesian women as their girlfriend/wife, that's my colleagues, miners from Aussie said, they hunts indonesian girs at Jawa Tengah
indah | 10 September 2014 | 18:07:37 WIB
I am pretty sure my husband "hunted" me because I was fun, smart and unique and because we got along really well - the same reasons I fell for him. He just happened to be bule and I just happened to be Indonesian. I thought ours was a typical romance but after reading this, I am starting to think that we are an exception to the rule... perhaps even worthy of a book? :)
fake bule | 10 September 2014 | 19:01:21 WIB
some women who are hunted have arrogant thoughts about them selves , a relationship works through two willing people wanting spending time and money that their relationship works.There should be no significant race classification. Sadly local mentality and mindset here is very shallow from both men and women.
Manda | 17 October 2014 | 12:48:04 WIB
"after I got married to one for several years, I came to realize that no matter where your partner comes from, the most important thing is the chemistry you have"

Seriously? You had to MARRY someone before you realized it's not important where he comes from????

Umm, *that* is what gives girls who date/marry expats a bad image.
Tika | 28 October 2014 | 19:50:29 WIB
Many Indonesian women who chestnut high fantasy to marry a Bule Americans, they assume the guys a rich, handsome ( white +tall) etc. whether laki laki "Men" in Indonesia has its drawbacks??
rico | 20 November 2014 | 15:06:36 WIB
It seem that the writer has her own exsperience life in the university of life of bule hunter. People are travel for life because they love there life and when bule are travel in indonesia they avoid stress in their life. That is why the bule hunter exist cause they are in the same situation and becoming together they are strong hahaha lol silly.
Ruby | 29 July 2015 | 05:54:59 WIB
Hi, I'm a victim of such stereotypes too, although - here's the thing - I'm not dating a bule. The bule guy I'm often seen with lately is JUST A FRIEND. ("Huh, really? You're lying!" is the common response I get. Ugh.) Yeah, the dude's my BFF - and so what? We don't even hold hands in public, we don't even call each other "sweets" (in fact, I always call him "dude".) Yet, I still get THE LOOKS, the hushed whispers, wherever we go - which is downright infuriating. (Seriously, people need to get busy alias mind their own business!) I even got a stupid question once:"Can a guy and a girl just be best friends?" Hell, yeah!
I guess I'm an anomaly or these stereotypes have also badly affected me. Maybe someone needs to write a book about anomalies like me. I'm sick of being judged by stereotypes. Why can't I just be friends with anybody without being constantly scrutinised? *kesel tingkat dewa*
Brada Bear | 14 October 2015 | 19:40:00 WIB
Read the book. It contains mostly about bules as "f*ck buddy". I completely miss the point of the book. Rather than deconstructing the myth, the book CONFIRMS the myth. How many different way one reads a book?

Weekly Top 5