Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sex and Siem Reap city

So one of my Khmer pals has a young French man pursuing her. He's not the first one. My friend has never agreed to go out with barang men because she is suspicious of them -- with good reason. One of her friends has been dumped by a string of Western expats after going to bed with them. One of these men left her with a child before returning to his country of origin. The poor Khmer girl keeps asking what is wrong with her, why do men all leave her. It does not occur to her to stop seeing the expat men she favours.

It is clear writing this that it's not just a problem in Cambodia. There are women all over the world who get used by men and don't understand why. I remember one episode of "Sex and the City" where Carrie and Jon Bon Jovi's character, both fellow patients at a shrink's, just had sex.

Carrie: So why are you in therapy, seriously.
JBJ: I'm really fucked up about women....after I sleep with them I completely lose interest.
JBJ (pauses, turns to look at C): How about you? What's your problem.
Carrie (to herself): I believe, in therapy, this moment is called "The Breakthrough".
Carrie (Rolls over and looks at the ceiling, answering): I pick the wrong men.

In the case of my Khmer friend, a very pretty young woman, the young man's persistence won the day. He would come in a few times a day to the shop where she works. One day he said to her: "Why do Cambodian women all say no when I ask them to have dinner with me? Or they say yes but they are not free today?" Anyone could have told him "It's cos the women are just not that into you." But of course my friend is too polite to tell him so.

Instead, she agreed to go on a first dinner date with him, which turned into another meal, and a trip to the swimming pool (!) of a posh hotel on the third date. It was also then that he also told her he would be leaving Cambodia at the end of the month. He is working as a manager at one of the shops here in Siem Reap but has to go back to France to resume his university studies.

By this time, unfortunately, she has developed feelings for the guy. I always wonder at how easily women fall for men after sampling nice dinners. Being poor makes you more vulnerable. My friend cannot afford to go to the expensive places the French man is taking her to and it is hard not to be impressed with the service and ambience at some of these places. I guess one might say he makes her feel like a princess.

She reminds me of this friend in Singapore who was pursued by an American expat. My friend was bowled over by the expensive dinners and "romance". The guy took her on a boat cruise down the Singapore river and showered her with wine, flowers and chocolates. She said she would never date local men again, because expat men know how to treat a woman and are more imaginative and romantic. After a month of seeing each other, the guy persuaded her to take a trip to Bali with him. You know what happened next - he never called her after bedding her. My Singaporean friend changed her mind about expat men.

My poor Khmer friend is depressed because she knows this will not last yet she likes him. She does not dare tell her family because they will scold her. She told me she said to the man, "Why did you ask me out since you are leaving?" He said, "What can I do, I like you." She is flattered and takes him at his word, although it does occur to us he only stepped up efforts three weeks before his departure. They have known each other for much longer.

I tell her to use protection but she giggles, embarrassed. Maybe it will not come to that, but I just want her to be safe. Another Cambodian friend of mine is in the countryside where she has just given birth to a baby boy, after the baby's father dumped her. He is a Khmer, not a barang--so let's be clear, there are bad men of all sorts, and not just barangs. The unwed mother tells me there is no good food in the village (there is only vegetables and fish) and she misses "the good food in Siem Reap".

By the way, the photo of the four Khmer actresses and singers which reminds me of NYC's famous four are: Som Mana, Keo Pichpisey, Sok Pisey and Doung Zorida. Source:khmer-chitchat.


Tanya said...

I just saw this episode last night- season 2 ep 13.

Ron said...

Hi Diana,
This is indeed an interesting topic. It caught me by surprise at first, but after reading further, I'm reminded of many Khmer girls I know that went thru this same predicament--except that in the cases I know of are all in North America! Khmer girls in the U.S and Canada get treated this way by barangs, blacks, hispanics, etc. For some reason the girls make themselves seem so vulnerable! I don't understand it. I guess for for some of the young Khmer girls here, they try to blend in with the North American Culture as much as possible, and sometimes, by dating outside your race, it makes them feel more American or Canadian. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing bad with dating outside your race, but I do believe that Khmer girls should take extra precaution when making that choice.

Great topic! Thank you!

snakeyezz said...

I'm an american (Hispanic and Asian decent) I've been trying to get this one cambodian girl to go out with me this past year and this article by Ron is exactly my case!The first time i asked her out she told me she couldnt tonight. So i asked her if she was free for the weekend and she said that she couldnt make it then either but that she would let me know. A couple of months past since then and i asked her again if she wanted to have dinner. Which she replied that she hasnt gone out on a date for 3 years. She never told me "no" but never says "yes" either. So anyways i told her that thats a good reason to go to dinner with me but she put her head down and didnt say anything after that which obviously relayed to me that she was uneasy with the situation so i told her that i'd let her off the hook and that its okay. We've become more friendly since then. I've started learning her language over the internet and try to talk to her in her own native language which always makes her smile. She never charges me for the food and coffee at her shop and by doing so i see how much it makes her happy when i accept. So in return i've bought her gift cards, sent her a dozen roses, candies and always treat her with the utmost respect. I asked her out last week once more and she confided in me that she's been hurt in her previous relationship and that it took 3 years for her to get over it. She says she's happy now and is afraid that she'l be hurt again if she gets into another relationship. She seems to genuinely care about me and when she sees me walk into her shop a big smile always comes across her face. And when i leave everytime i look back i see her watching me leave through the window even though she has a line of customers. She compliments me often and even told me that she has never met anyone like me and that i'm so nice to her. That's when i took the opportunity and asked her out again and that's when she told me that she was hurt in a previous relationship but that shes over it and happy now. After reading the article i now understand where she's coming from. This article could have been written about me and her! I have a great paying job and drive an expensive car and motorcycle. And she's commented a couple of times that i'm "rich" and i think that makes her uncomfortable as well.I'm far from rich but theres nothing i can do about that! The thing is.. I've fallin for her. I've never cheated on any of my former girlfriends and has always been the one to be dumped or cheated on. I dont want to appear disillusional but the things she says to me, her smile and body language all points that she really likes me. Especially when i went to her home to drop off a turkey i was giving her for the Thanksgiving holiday. She introduced me to her family with a pride on her face and they accepted me well. I believe that she's put herself in a shell and even though she would like to go out with me she just cant bring herself to opening up. Anyone have any advice without being a smart alleck? How i can convince her that i'm not one of those idiots that just uses women for sex?? Thanks Ron for the post. It opened my eyes to how she must feel.

snakeyezz said...

Sorry i meant to thank Diana for her post. = )

Diana Saw said...

hi there snakeyezz, i don't normally give advice, since i don't consider myself an expert on anything. but you seem really sincere about this young lady. i think that's the key. women can tell when you're sincere (it's the players that may be harder to spot!)

it may take longer to get to her heart than the easier route of throwing money at the problem (buying her stuff), but if you're sincere and she likes you (and from what you say, it's clear she does), i'm sure it will work out. good luck!


Diana Saw said...

hey there ron, sorry i never responded to your post. it's a complicated issue cos people are complicated.

i think it's not just khmer girls but girls in general who can be vulnerable in this way. many of them just want to be loved. i remember one article in de spiegel about young german girls falling in love with young men who treat them nicely only until such time as they can pimp the girls.

my theory is, it's a self-esteem thing. if you know who you are and were taught to love yourself cos your family and friends loved you while you were growing up, you'd have an easier time. in that regard, i think girls from middle class families are less vulnerable than those from working class ones.

but what do i know. i'm just a hack. :P


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