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The biggest cock: Territoriality, invulnerability and honour amongst Jakarta’s gangsters

Wilson, I.D. (2011) The biggest cock: Territoriality, invulnerability and honour amongst Jakarta’s gangsters. In: Ford, M. and Lyons, L., (eds.) Men and Masculinities in Southeast Asia. Taylor and Francis, London, UK, pp. 121-138.

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I followed Bang Cep on his nightly rounds of the food stalls surrounding the bus terminal. This was Bang Cep’s territory and he walked with an exaggerated swaggering confidence. Vendors he approached for their daily ‘protection’ fee greeted him politely, but with their eyes betraying an apprehension bordering on fear. At Pak Dede’s fried tofu stall Bang Cep loudly berated him for his lateness in paying his dues, slamming his ring-encrusted hand on the flimsy wooden stall to emphasize the point. Eyes downcast, Pak Dede muttered an apology, promising to pay in full, with interest, the next day. Perhaps owing to my presence, Bang Cep didn’t follow up with the beatings and ‘bitch slaps’ he was infamous for. I returned to Pak Dede’s warung later that evening for dinner. Asking him about the encounter with Bang Cep, he let out a pained sigh, ‘Yeah, as you saw that’s what we have to deal with. We don’t like it, but what can we do? People say he is kebal (invulnerable), plus he is close to the police. Either way, if it weren’t him it would be someone else. For now at least he is the biggest cock (yang paling jago) around here, and unless we want to get bashed we do what he says.’1

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Management and Governance
Asia Research Centre
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
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