Opinion: Indonesian media must stop feeding our inferiority complex by making a big deal out of locals marrying ‘bules’

Sri Rahayu and Ezra Liam Honan on their wedding day. Photo: Facebook via Warta Kota
Sri Rahayu and Ezra Liam Honan on their wedding day. Photo: Facebook via Warta Kota

There is absolutely nothing wrong with interracial marriage (heck, we at Coconuts officially support marriage equality for all consenting adult humans). What is wrong, however, is how the Indonesian media often portrays marrying a “bule” (local slang for a foreigner, usually caucasian) as the greatest achievement for a local man or woman.

Case in point: over the past few days, Indonesian media outlets have been pumping out endless stories about the marriage of a 21-year-old Indonesian woman named Sri Rahayu and 20-year-old New Zealander Ezra Liam Honan. Neither are (or were, as it were) celebrities in their native countries, but their nuptials are getting coverage worthy of at least B-listers here.

There’s nothing extraordinary about how their love story began either. The pair met on Kuta beach in Bali last year and entered into a serious relationship from there. So, theoretically, I could’ve gone on this rant about the thousands, if not millions of other couples who met on the beach and eventually got married.

And yet the media seem desperate to paint Sri as an extremely lucky woman for marrying Ezra, with numerous articles about their marriage even reeking of jealousy. Many writers made sure to point out that Sri worked as a babysitter and that there are “clear differences in the couple’s appearances,” meant as both a demeaning, stereotyping stab about the looks of domestic workers and Sri’s non-caucasian appearance (and, by extension, the appearance of all locals).

These are some of the totally real headlines for articles about Sri and Ezra that were published recently on some of Indonesia’s most popular news websites. See if you can spot the internalized racism and misogyny:

Warta Kota “Babysitter ini nggak pernah menyangka bakal jadi istri bule” (This babysitter never expected that she’d be a foreigner’s wife)

Liputan 6 “Bikin iri, gadis Wonogiri dinikahi bule ganteng Selandia Baru” (This makes us jealous, a girl from Wonogiri is wed by a handsome foreigner from New Zealand)

Malang Today “Menang banyak gadis Wonogiri dinikahi bule ganteng asal Selandia Baru” (Big win as girl from Wonogiri is wed by handsome foreigner from New Zealand)

Sri is, for all intents and purposes, a very attractive woman, but we did not find a single article praising her appearance, as if she’s undeserving of her “bule ganteng” husband.

To be fair, the story of Sri and Ezra’s marriage was only picked up by the mainstream media after it had gone viral on social media. In the Warta Kota article above, Sri said that the comments she mostly got on social media were abusive, with many netizens mocking the fact that a local girl like her could marry a handsome foreigner like Ezra.

But herein lies the chicken and egg conundrum. We can’t police internet trolls, but if the media in Indonesia continue to stoop down to their level, then unnecessary coverage about interracial couples will continue to feed into the inferiority complex of many in this country, giving birth to more ugly, jealous trolls.

Regardless, we wish Sri and Ezra the happiest of lives together.

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2 thoughts on “Opinion: Indonesian media must stop feeding our inferiority complex by making a big deal out of locals marrying ‘bules’

  1. Can you delete my first post,and post my editied version,thanks,Steve
    Steve Sparks I agree with this article.I am a bule married to a Indonesian woman ,We Live in Jakarta,Sometimes you just want to be treated like every one else,I am from America which is a melting pot from people all over the world,mixed marriages are a common thing there and is not even really noticed.In Indonesia its like your a sideshow item.I have three kids two daughters that look more Bule-white then Indonesian,There treated by Indonesians as if there angels from heaven,Every one wants to touch them,hold them,stare at them.I have a son who is 1 years old who looks Indonesian,not white,he is more dark skinned looks Indonesian,he is totally ignored,by the same people who give my daughters all the attention,he is ignored or receives very little attention,which is a blessing to me,because what we go through with my daughters being white,.None of these things are big issues in our family,but its just a fact and a reality in our lives in Indonesia, ,Also my wife has been asked many times while we are out,as a family if she is the nanny? or the maid woman? These are very hurtful comments to my wife,Not sure if its said out of jealousy or if they see my wife and feel she doesn’t measure up to be with a bule,-white man, by there so called standerts Bule-white is just a color of a skin,there are many Indonesians who have just as much if not more then most bules-white men i know in Indonesia,Most bules -white men i know in Indonesia are not rich,do not hold any real title as a doctor or a lawyer or a CEO of some large company,or hold any kind of royalty to some linage of a prosperous family in another Country.Most are just men just getting by and being wise with little money they are making and have.Yet in Indonesia they can be treated as if there some kind of celebrity when a Indonesian woman marries a bule-white man,i find this in some ways racism on both sides,Just being treated different because of the color of your skin is wrong no matter for the good or the bad,We love Indonesia and its people,i love it here,and in my country we have issues also,there just different issues so iam not singling Indonesia out,I could write a artical on the USA also on issues.

  2. I thing, not mistake about the all news. This not about interracial but about love story. Fish from the sea, lemon from the mount, they meet in the pan.

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