American Extols Gender Roles in Indonesia

Bernard Grover — June 14, 2013

Bernard Grover is an independent writer/producer living in Indonesia for the past five years.
A man is transferred to Indonesia for a year or so on business.  He brings his wife and family with him.  After a few months, he divorces his Western wife and marries a local woman.  If I’ve heard this story once, I’ve heard it a dozen times.
Invariably, my wife asks me why.  I’ve tried to explain the English concept of “battle axe” or the German version, “hausdrache” (house dragon).  The idea of a woman who is domineering and disrespectful of her husband is as foreign to her as eating a dog is to a Westerner.
On the other hand, I’ve known many Indonesian women with successful careers who turn in their notice with the reason that they are getting married.  If you ask them why, they will tell you they need to stay home and care for their husbands and fledgling families.  Not because they are forced to, but because the culture here expects a woman to concern herself with matters of home and hearth.  And they are happy to do so.
Two years ago, I wrote an article entitled, My Submissive Asian Wife Empowers Me.” It’s time to revisit that article and examine whether Asian women really are superior to Western women, and whether the Asian culture truly does empower a man.  And the short answer to both questions is, “Yes!”


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