Q&A On the Hunt for Bules

Q&A On the Hunt for Bules by Sara Schonhardt  of The Wall Street Journal [2014]

Q&A On the Hunt for Bules by Sara Schonhardt of The Wall Street Journal [2014]

Elisabeth Oktofani has rustled plenty of feathers in Indonesia since she released her first novel “The Bule Hunter” last month. The book explores why Indonesian women enter relationships with foreigners, or bules. And it’s as unconventional as Ms. Oktofani, a petite 27-year-old with close cropped hair and a flare for saying exactly what she’s thinking. A former journalist cum business consultant, Ms. Oktafani interviewed 15 women while writing her book – though only 11 made it in. Some of her sources are married to unsavory characters, some admit that they’re with their partners for money. All have had their names changed for publication.

Ms. Oktofani has brushed off criticism that the book is overtly sexual or has a moral message. She says she is just trying to raise awareness. And much of the response has been positive. She says she often gets emails from women interested in the book but who want to buy it covertly. Many ask that she mail it to them in plain brown packaging; some even come to her apartment to pick it up. The Wall Street Journal talked to Ms. Oktofani about the book and how she has responded to the feedback. Edited excerpts.

WSJ: You said you wrote the book because you found from your experience dating Western men that you were being judged and it made you uncomfortable. But there is more to this book than that. 
Ms. Oktofani: The book is divided into three parts: money, sex and love. [With] money, I’m trying to show that those Indonesian women who date foreigners are most of the time being judged for being after money. And then people think they must be sleeping together, so [they think] she’s an easy girl. Meanwhile, the other side of those two things is that those two people fell in love and just want to be together.

WSJ: How did you find your sources?
Ms. Oktofani: Some are people around me. Some I purposely looked for at nightclubs, to really understand what they’re looking for. Some I also found on the Internet, through bloggers and friends.

WSJ: Your husband is a Canadian. How did you meet him?
Ms. Oktofani: I met him in Bali in a beach bar. [But] I had the idea for this book for a long time, even before I met my husband. The majority of books are written by Western men when it comes to cross-cultural relationships or Westerners and Asian women. So I wanted to write it from a woman’s perspective, the way I see it.

WSJ: Did any of the women’s responses surprise you?
Ms. Oktofani: No, because everyone has a motivation, even if they’re openly saying I want to be with this Westerner because I want to improve my life financially. For me it’s not really surprising. Sometimes it’s not just Western men, but young Indonesian women married to older wealthy Indonesian men.

WSJ: Why did you choose the title?
Ms. Oktofani: The first time I heard the term bule hunter it made me think. I was sure people would be interested in reading about it. I was prepared for the controversy.

WSJ: You also talk about sex.
Ms. Oktofani: It’s necessary to talk about it. Many young girls are talking about (sex) but they’re not asking, ‘Have you gotten yourself tested?’ Are you using a condom? It’s important for me to say this because I found many people have sex, but they don’t care about safe sex and it has to be stopped.

WSJ: There’s been a lot of criticism of the book online. How have you responded?
Ms. Oktofani: At the beginning I didn’t really care. Instead, all those criticisms just encouraged me to write a second book.

WSJ: So what’s the next book about?
Ms. Oktofani: It’s more about the problems that happen in cross-cultural relationships, especially when it comes to religion.

==@==

Q&A On the Hunt for Bules is published by The Wall Street Journal on Oct 6, 2014.

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Kontribusi Istri Bule dalam Rumah Tangga

Saya pun tiba-tiba teringat Henry yang pernah mengatakan pada saya bahwa kawan-kawannya dapat membeli rumah dan hidup berkecukupan karena istri mereka bekerja dan memberi kontribusi cukup signifikan pada rumah tangga.

Ya iyalah! Apakah saya harus heran? Semua orang juga tahu, sistem gaji bagi orang kulit putih sangat berbeda dengan gaji orang kulit cokelat atau hitam. Orang kulit putih cenderung mendapatkan gaji lima kali lipat daripada orang lokal ketika mereka bekerja di negara berkembang. Lihat saja berita di Kompas beberapa waktu lalu tentang kesenjangan gaji antara guru asing dan guru lokal di sekolah bertaraf internasional di Pondok Indah, Jakarta Selatan. Guru asing menerima upah antara Rp50 sampai Rp100 juta per bulan sedangkan guru Indonesia hanya menerima upah Rp 2 juta sampai Rp15 juta per bulan.

Ya, tentu saja, akhirnya saya enggak bisa memberi kontribusi yang cukup signifikan terhadap keuangan rumah tangga kami. Saya sebagai orang Indonesia dengan pendidikan universitas swasta di Yogyakarta hanya dihargai murah.

Ah, lucu sekali. Lucu sekali, kata saya dalam hati. Bisa dibilang, saya ini sudah pasrah dengan gaji murah karena sistemnya memang sudah seperti itu, tetapi saya masih harus makan. Eh, masih saja enggak dihargai, yang ada malah dicaci maki suami sendiri.

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Casual Sex Relationship… Don’t Forget LATEX!

Anyway, satu yang harus diketahui dan dipahami betul oleh orang-orang yang menjalin casual sex relationship ini adalah ‘aturan main’. Jangan sampai kita kebablasan dan menghancurkan diri kita sendiri.

Mimpi buruk yang paling mengerikan dalam casual sex relationship dengan banyak partner sebenarnya bukanlah kehamilan, melainkan penyakit menular seksual seperti hepatitis B, hepatitis C, herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea atau HIV/AIDS.

Penting kiranya kita menggunakan kondom serta me- lakukan tes kesehatan (HIV/AIDS dan STD) secara rutin dan teratur. Mungkin kita hanya memiliki satu orang sex partner saja, tapi bagaimana dengan dia? Apakah sudah pasti dia bermain safe di luar sana? Belum tentu!

Oleh karena itu, lebih baik sedia payung sebelum hujan. Apalagi kebanyakan penyakit ini enggak bisa dilihat dengan mata telanjang.

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