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

Elisabeth Oktofani: Exploring the world of ‘bule’ hunters

After dating many Caucasian guys, locally known as bule, since she was a teenager, 27-year-old writer Elisabeth Oktofani settled down when she married a Canadian three years ago.
“I had many relationships with bule and reached a point when I couldn’t care less if I dated a bule or not. But then I finally found a peace of mind with my husband, who turned out to be bule,” Fani said.

Her story dated to high school in Yogyakarta, when many of her girlfriends got invitations to connect on Friendster, the once-popular social media outlet, in the early 2000s.

Fani, however, stayed out of the fray. Initially.

“My hair was curly, I had a dark complexion and I had no boyfriend — I felt ugly. But then I got a friend request on Friendster from a bule who then asked to meet me in person,” Fani said. “So I thought if it was difficult to find local boyfriends, I would just try dating bule because they liked girls like me.”

After going out with a lot of Western men, she realized that many would appreciate her more if they could talk about many things with her.

“At first, I didn’t feel much appreciated — maybe because as a teenager, I had a lack of confidence and knowledge,” she said. “That’s why I easily ended up relationship with someone and find another one until I eventually realized that I also needed to be knowledgeable to hang out with them.”

She was often judged by the people around her about her relationships with the Westerners. They told her that she went out with them only because they were rich, and bule liked her because she was ugly.

“That annoyed me, because not all relationships between Indonesian girls and bule are like that. There are other things the society should know behind the relationship between Indonesian woman and bule,” Fani said.

She then decided to make a book which was based on her experience and her friends. The book, Bule Hunter: Kisah Wanita Pemburu Bule (Bule Hunter: Stories of Women who Pursue Westerners), aims to get rid of stigma attached to Indonesian women who date bule only for their money.

“We want to let people know that there are also relationships with bule that are based on love,” she said.

Fani said the idea to make the book popped up in 2007 when she first heard the phrase “bule hunter”.

“It was a funny word I thought. I started to find out more about this, listened to my friends who shared their experiences with bule, then the idea to write a book crossed my mind,” she said.

It was not until 2011 she really started working on it, spending almost two years to do the research for the book.

She interviewed friends, prostitutes and random women in Jakarta and Bali.

“I went to night clubs and hotels to find out about how women made their deals with bule. I also found out that there were many women who married to bule to be able to leave Indonesia or to improve their lives in Indonesia,” she said.

However, she said, after they left many were often surprised to know the fact that their bule partners were not as wealthy as they were in Indonesia.

“Many women that I interviewed also like to hang out with bule because sometimes they are more open-minded than Indonesian guys when it comes to sex and safe sex,” Fani said.

She then went to Bali to focus on finishing the project. By the end of 2013, Fani had completed a book that was blunt and a bit vulgar.

It was not too hard for her to find a publisher. Rejected by one of the nation’s largest publishers, who thought the work too much, Fani offered it to Rene Book, which agreed to print it after some editing.

“The publisher says this 311-page book is different, as it brings out the silent phenomenon in the society as well as becoming the voice of certain groups,” she said.

She added that she already had a plan to make the sequel.

Fani has always been into writing.

She started blogging since high school and her blog received responses from readers in many countries. She studied journalism at Atma Jaya University in Yogyakarta.

She become a freelance writer for a newspaper in Indonesia, took an internship in a lifestyle magazine in Bali, worked for one-and-a-half years for a newspaper in Jakarta, and became a freelance contributor for an American media outlet.

Recalling her life from the past through present day, Fani said she was so proud of being an Indonesian despite the fact that she enjoyed hang out with Westerners.

“We have several values that are always instilled in us, like honoring older people by not calling them only by name and other polite gesture in Indonesian tradition,” Fani said.

Fani is also busy with her current job as an assistant editor and a contributor for a growing media outlet in Jakarta.

“I covered social issues, human rights and also terrorism. And the book’s writing style has been highly influenced by my investigative journalism experience,” Fani said.

Bule Hunter: Kisah Wanita Pemburu Bule (Rene Book, 312 pages, paperback) will be launched at the Reading Room in Kemang, Jakarta, on Wednesday. Visit bulehunter.com for more information.


This article is published by The Jakarta Post’s newspaper on Sept. 8, 2014

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.