Woman’s Voice

Bali Undercover by Malcolm Scott [2015: EO]

Bali Undercover by Malcolm Scott [2015: EO]

When I published “Bule Hunter: Money, Sex and Love”  in September 2014, I received a stream of criticism in the net from many people. I would have understood that they criticized my book after they read it but they have not. They criticized it based on some media coverages. Those are including many Indonesian  women, who are in relationship with Western Men and feel offended with my writing as well as other people are who simply narrow minded.

Some of them said that it was just a bunch of gossip, some of them said that it’s not a journalism work because it’s very subjective yadda yadda yadda (Well honey, it’s hard to find an objective journalism work these days. Media is controlled by companies who are linked to govt). Anyway, there were big wave of nasty comments coming toward me. It was terrifying! 

Frankly, I was shocked reading those comments. I refused to read further for few weeks. But I must say that I am grateful because  those haters actually  inspired me  to write my next book. 

So when I went to  Times Bookstore in Plaza Singapura, I saw this book and purchased one. I read nearly half of the book within few hours over few glasses of Chardonnay. Since I read the title, I already assumed that it would have similar content to my book Bule Hunter. And YES IT IS! 

It talks about Indonesian women, Western men, Indonesian men, western women,money, sex and  relationship. However, it seems nobody attacking the Australian author Malcolm Scott. At least, I didn’t hear about it. 

Is it because the author is a man? Is it because the author is a Westerner? Or is it because he choose a soft title instead of Bule Hunter?! Or is it because it’s written in English and doesn’t get a lot of media exposure in Indonesia (if I understand correctly)? 

Oh well, we are still living in an era and place where women can hardly say their voices loudly and bluntly! 



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.



First of all, I want to thank some of you who made some hateful comments about my friend Elisabeth Oktofani and her book, Bule Hunter.

No, seriously, thanks for making my friend famous. I mean, hey, if you bother to open your laptop and throw nasty remarks at her on the internet, it means you actually give a damn about it.  And, in addition, you make more people aware about her book.

There’s no such thing as a bad press.

But I think all of you need to take a moment to calm down, take a deep breath and, uh, eat a cookie. Some of those comments I’ve read so far are not only misdirected but also so wrong in so many levels. Clearly some of you haven’t read the book.

Repeat it after me: Calm down. Keep breathing. Eat a cookie.

First, I realize some of the people who give mean comments only judge the book after reading news in a particular online media. Like this one right here And, some of the comments become too personal I can’t even … whatever. I mean, the article only grasp some crumbs of the book but fail big time to take what the book is all about.

I’m not saying you have to read the book. But I think it’s just unfair to judge a book before actually reading it.

Even when Oktofani want to make the record straight by writing a letter to the editors of that online media, this lady right here, said “Oh, she only wrote a letter because she want to be famous.”

Lady, if you have a daughter and some random online media write something that will damage or hurt your daughter’s reputation by spreading news that is untrue, wouldn’t you want to do something about it?  Ugh, seriously, get real. I already did you a favor by link your blog so more people would visit it because I assume you’d like that. Thank me later.

Oh, and by the way, speaking of wanting to get famous, do you really think tearing other people down on your blog is an elegant way to gain traffic? Shame on you.

Perhaps is a good thing that this online media wrote those outrageous articles because more people are now aware of this book but, seriously people, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Moreover, you can’t judge a book before you actually read it.

First, some of the people berate the writer for her decision to choose the term “bule hunter” for the book’s title. “Bule” here is an Indonesian slang for Westerners and thus, “bule hunter,” is a derogatory nickname for Indonesian women who prefer Western male as romantic partner.

Look, the term “bule hunter” does exist. The writer did not coin the term but merely use it as the title of her book. Sadly, this term is sometimes also applied to ANY woman who ends up with a bule as a husband. What about those women who never intentionally search for a bule as their partner but end up with one anyway?

Google “self-deprecating humor,” people. Educate yourself.

Yes, netizens, Oktofani also write about those women in her book.  Real women, by the way. This book is not a work of fiction. This is not (I repeat: NOT) a novel. It’s a true story. Even though the tone of the book is casual, Oktofani gathered her facts just like how a journalist should. And journalist is, in fact, she is.

In Oktofani’s book, these real Indonesian women (granted, they didn’t reveal their true identity to protect their privacy) just want to give their side of the story.

No, Oktofani does not judge anyone here. I have it on good authority that a certain Facebook group, which consist of Indonesian women with foreigners as partners, bullies her. No, ladies, seriously. She’s actually on your side. Yes, she choose the title “Bule Hunter” to catch readers’ eyes (and, admit it, she succeeded), but this book is more than that.

I mean, come on, what she must do then? Make her book title “I AM NOT BULE HUNTER EVEN THOUGH MY LOVER IS A WHITE GUY SO DON’T JUDGE ME PLEASE”? She can’t do that, can she? Too long. And, let’s be honest, not catchy at all.

Some of the ladies in this book got story to tell. Yes, they are no saints. But these stories are real?

What about Nurmali? Who lost her husband and couldn’t find a proper job because she did not go to college (heck, she only attended elementary school)? If she want to sell her body so she can feed her children I say “you go, girl!” I mean, it’s her body. Unless you volunteer to pay her bills stop berating her choices.

In the book, Nurmali said she did not want to marry a bule. Yet she admit that her bule customers are more decent in terms of politeness, show her respect as a human being and, most of all, agrees to wear a condom when she ask. In other words, according to her, bule men are not hypocrites. And they give a damn about safe sex.

And what about Jovita? Who regret her choice to marry an older, white guy because not only he abuse her, he (almost, thank God) contracted her with HIV?

This book is more than just some women finding happy endings after marrying their husband. No, this is not “Pretty Woman.” Some of the women here actually struggle during their relationships with bule.

Stereotypical? Well, maybe some of the women are. But not all of them. And these are real accounts. This is not a novel (if any of you still refer this book as a novel I will slap your face with this book, I swear to God).

What Fani did was giving these ladies some chance to speak up.

If you don’t want to have a bule for a husband, by all means, don’t. Fani never (I repeat: NEVER) said in her book “You should go out and bang the first white guy you see.” If you think like that, all I can say is you misjudge the book. And I pity you.


PS: This article is written and published by Mahel on his blog on Sept. 12, 2014


Kemarin (10/9/14), saya diminta untuk memoderatori peluncuran buku “Bule Hunter: Money, Sex and Love” karya Elisabeth Oktofani dengan nara sumber  Myra Diarsi, aktivis perempuan dan juga dihadiri oleh ebbrapa peserta yang juga melakukan pernikahan campur antar bangsa di Reading Room, Kemang Jakarta Selatan.

Buku ini jika dilihat dari judul dan komentar-komentar dari Facebook atau berita di media banyak dapat kritik dari publik, terutama dari orang-orang bule itu sendiri maupun beberpa perempuan yang kebetulan menikah dengan bule.

Buku ini mengungkapkan kegelisahan2 atau “kemarahan” penulis atas pola ketidakadilan yang berkaitan dengan persoalan: 1. Relasi antara perempuan dan laki-laki dlam segala hal, 2. Relasi antara negara yg dianggap maju/beradab (barat), dalam hal ini laki-laki bule dengan negara2 timur/dunia ketiga/asia dlam hal ini perempuan Indonesia.

Walau penulis kurang membongkar atau menguliti secara detail pola-pola ketimpangan itu (katanya akan ada buku selanjutnya membongkar lebih dalam), tetapi penulis berhasil, minimal membuat saya memahami bahwa ini ada persoalan ketimpangan gender dalam perkawinan antar bangsa yg semakin rumit.

Sepertinya buku ini kalau diulas menggunakan buku Orientalis karya Edward Said dan buku The Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of World Order karya Samuel P. Huntington akan dapat inti persoalannya, tentunya menggunakan pisau analisis gender. – Hartoyo, General Secretary of Our Voice Indonesia

Catatan: tulisan ini diambil dari Facebook mas Hartoyo dengan ijin beliau