American Extols Gender Roles in Indonesia
June 14, 2013
After three FAILED American marriages,
Bernard Grover found "balance" in the
traditional gender roles practiced in Indonesia.
This may be the reason the East will surpass the West.
"In total, I have been married for 20 years. The last three have been the happiest with my submissive Asian wife. We have disagreements, but never fights. There are never threats of lawyers and walking out. It's not all sunshine, but it's deeply satisfying on all levels: mental, physical and spiritual."
"Those who have studied and experienced dominance and submission know that the submissive one always has the power to say, "No!" The trick is not getting the power, but keeping it. That requires wisdom and restraint."
(Editor's Note: I personally find this example a bit extreme but agree with the basic principle. I present it to you for discussion.)
by Bernard Grover
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!"
When I rise every morning at 4 a.m., my wife has already prepared my coffee and breakfast, heated the bath water and started cleaning the house. I have never asked, much less demanded this behavior. It's her role as she understands it and she has never complained about it once.
The other day, I had a couple of colleagues to the house for a casual get-together. By the time I had led them inside, my wife had set out refreshments and cakes on the table and did not join the conversation past initial introductions until I asked her to do so. Even then, she took a cushion on the floor at my feet and did not sit at the same level as the men. I did not request or order her to serve my guests, and certainly not to sit on the floor. It was her duty as my wife to make me look respected and in charge in front of my associates. Being Westerners themselves, my guests took careful note, as I could see by their expressions.
When I take my family out for dinner or other activity, my wife and daughter open doors for me and will not sit at the table until I do. When the food comes, I am served first. I have never said I expect this treatment. It is just done that way and there is no need to say a thing, though I am always appropriately thankful.
I am the intellectual, spiritual and economic leader of my house. My wife may (and frequently does) offer her opinion on important matters, or advise me on social necessities, but when I have made a decision, there is no further discussion, especially in front of others. She always presents a united front with me and wouldn't think of gainsaying me and causing me to lose face.
At this point, you may be thinking, "This is incredible, but what does she get out of the deal?" I'm glad you asked.
The man's role is to provide emotional and economic security, as well as to make well-informed and wise decisions concerning the family's well-being. He is the example of moral and ethical behavior to his family.
If there are any problems that affect the household, the man is expected to represent his family. If the problem is between two houses, the men settle the matter, regardless of which member of the family is involved.
This all may seem positively medieval to a Western reader, but you would be amazed at how happy and satisfied we all are with our roles. My wife is rewarded with absolute control over her house: making the home comfortable, budgeting the household expenses, buying the family's necessities, and so forth. Most importantly, she receives the respect of her friends and family because her husband provides well for the family and is a respected member of society. She is fulfilled in serving a man who increases the family's status and makes good choices.
My wife, though submissive, is never dishonored or shamed. Her efforts to build me up benefit her in a dozen different ways, not the least of which is the fulfillment of her femininity. She knows that I give equal weight to her opinions, needs and desires, but she respects my role as the decision-maker. I have proven that I make considered and wise choices.
As a man, I receive what my gender craves the most: respect and authority. I don't waste my efforts fighting my own household, but rather can focus my efforts on advancing the family's fortunes.
Can you imagine the power I feel in this arrangement - to be a Man and completely secure in my role, and in the knowledge that my wife is completely Woman in hers.
This is my fourth marriage; the previous three were to Western women and were disastrous for a number of reasons, not the least of which is a family court system that rewards women for destroying their families.
THE PRICE OF POWER
This kind of power is not without its price. There is a heavy responsibility that comes with having a wife who submits her power to you. You cannot take decisions lightly and your public behavior must be exemplary at all times. You must also discern the proper occasions to exercise your power. Lording yourself about is one of the fastest ways to lose it. You must also be appropriately grateful to the woman who concedes to you.
There is a reason that women seem attracted to the "bad boys". Women desire men who are decisive, somewhat aloof and constitutionally strong. Men are, or should be, everything a woman is not, and vice versa. We are designed to complement each other. That is why our bodies, our minds and our spirits fit together like a puzzle. Together we become one.
A woman, even one who is badly trained as many Western women, will ultimately submit to a man who knows how to use his power.
She is constitutionally made for it, just as men are made to wield power. But Western men have not been properly trained by their fathers on how to be powerful. We men are just as responsible for the collapse of the traditional roles as the women are.
Western men are invariably attracted to Asian women because they sense the power of real femininity. It is the man's job to convince the woman to relinquish her power to him. When properly done, both the man and the woman are ultimately satisfied in their roles. When improperly done, it is disastrous and injurious to both people.
In the absence of this natural balance between the genders, we have what the Hopi Indians call koyaanisqatsi, life without balance. Perhaps at the deepest root of the socio-economic problems in the West, is the lack of balance between men and women that is destroying our culture. How can unbalanced people create a balanced society?
Only resuming our proper gender roles and acknowledging the natural wisdom of complimentary sexes will restore the balance.
There is a catch, though, like all good things. You can not bring your Asian wife back to the West. Here, the culture supports and demands traditional roles. Fathers train their sons and mothers train their daughters. Once exposed to the toxic influence of Western culture, though, it takes a very strong woman to resist. What's more, once they learn that the laws and the courts are so heavily slanted toward women, the temptation to 'cash in' is almost unbearable. I know of several men who brought their Asian wives home, only to lose them to the forces that are tearing Western families apart.
My wife and I blended our two families. I have two children and she has three. There were many challenges in merging our backgrounds. I had to assimilate into a new culture and learn a new language. She made adjustments, as well, helping with my immigration status and learning English.
She has modified the family's diet to include my favorite Texas fare. However, the seas have calmed and life goes on.
And there's our mountain retirement house with the writer's shack out back to look forward to, with a woman who will actually be around to share my old age.
Bernard Grover is an independent writer/producer living in Indonesia for the past five years. He publishes the Life on the Far Side blog and produces Radio Far Side, among other endeavors.