No longer a priority: Female visitors look at clothes at a shopping mall in West Jakarta. A Yahoo! She Indonesia poll conducted from late February to early March found out that 37 percent of the survey’s 7,335 respondents answered “No” when asked “Should women get married?”. “A study says that, women nowadays don’t really feel like they have to get married because they are already happy with the five Cs — career, condominium, credit cards, cars and condoms,” says actress Lola Amaria.
“And I don’t feel bothered with the fact that I am still single in my 30s. I am comfortable with my life at the moment,” Lola, now 34, said during a Yahoo! She Indonesia talk show in Jakarta recently.
The actress’ statement was real and sincere, because Lola — with her pretty face, popularity and charm — can get just about any guy she wants down on his knees. Lola’s sentiment is shared by many women in their late 20s or even 30s as several studies have revealed that more and more Asian women prefer to stay single or at least decide to delay settling down until they reach a certain age or until they accomplish their personal goals.
A Yahoo! She Indonesia poll conducted from late February to early March found out that 37 percent of the survey’s 7,335 respondents answered “No” when asked “Should women get married?”, while the remaining 63 percent preferred to settle down in life because “It is women’s fate.”
“Most respondents who chose not to get married cited reasons such as they felt they had the right to define their own lives or they didn’t need men because they were financially and spiritually content or they didn’t want to push themselves to get into married life before they were ready,” Yahoo! She Indonesia editor Lika Aprilia Samiadi told The Jakarta Post.
“Those who answered that women should get married also said they didn’t want to end up being lonely when they’re old,” she added.
Speaking during the same talk show, TV personality Ayu Dewi said that she was up for marriage but was sure that she did not want to give up her career and her social life after settling down.
Ayu, who called off her wedding with actor-turned-public official Zumi Zola last year, said that to her, marriage was all about the perfect guy and perfect timing. “I didn’t get traumatized and I know I want to get married someday,” she said.
“Women in their productive years may find marriage unnecessary since a long list of activities always keeps them busy. But imagine when women reach their 50s … they’ll get lonely,” the 27-year old Ayu added.
Gender behavior expert Poetri Soehendro cited higher levels of education, access to information and financial independence as factors that have shifted modern Indonesian women’s perspectives on marriage, despite the relatively conservative environment in which they grew up.
“More and more Indonesian women get the privilege to realize that the world is more than just marriage and household chores — there are careers, fashion, friendship and casual relationships out there — things that most of our mothers were not really a fan of,” Poetri told the Post.
However, choosing a career and a personal life over tying the knot in a woman’s early 20s is apparently not easily understood or accepted, particularly in Indonesian society — a culture that never seems to stop asking when “the big day” will be for young women.
Lola acknowledged the burdens she had to bear while living the single life. “Before I turned 30, all my family ever asked me at every family gathering was the ‘So, when?’ question, especially when I had a boyfriend,” Lola, who starred in the movie Minggu Pagi di Victoria Park (Sunday Morning at Victoria Park) recalled.
“After I turned 33, they stopped bombarding me with that question. My mom is now like, ‘Yeah whatever, you know what you want and you can do whatever you want’,” she said, laughing.
Ayu shared a similar experience. “I think the ‘So, when?’ question is like our people’s ‘Hi, how are you?’ or ‘Bye’. It’s just their lack of creativity,” the comedian joked.
“So what I always do is use a bit of variety when answering that question, by saying things such as ‘Wait until I buy a new car’,” Ayu continued.
Poetri said that it was understandable that many single women felt bothered by such questions.
“But those women have to realize that these types of questions are one of the consequences for choosing to stay single, so they have to find a way to deal with that kind of thing,” she said, reminding that “It becomes unhealthy if that kind of situation forces them to avoid family gatherings.”
She emphasized that it was important for the women to avoid complaining about uncomfortable situations they might face in single life. Their girl friends, who are now wives and mothers, may have almost no time for a girls’ night out on the weekend and spend their time talking about what kind of preschool would be perfect for their toddlers or other things single women might find boring.
“Once again, it is one of the consequences,” she noted.
While many women enjoy the benefits of staying single, there are also many modern women aspiring to accomplish goals in their careers and social lives who still feel they need a long-term companion.
“Psychologically, women always long for protection, love, support, appreciation and someone who will always listen to them,” Poetri said.
While TV presenter Melissa Karim thinks that “marriage is not for everyone”, Poetri offers her own conclusion: “The option to get married is available. It is your call whether to take it or not.”