My phone rang and on the caller ID screen there it showed “Mother”. It has been more than several weeks that I haven’t seen her or talked to her much due to my exam priority. I was disconnected and unplugged from everyone. When I answered the call, “Hi mom, I miss you. I’m sorry for not being able to manage my time for you. I was too busy with my exam, but it went well and I’m done with it now. What a relief!” And her sharp response that came straight right through my heart and left a hole there, a hole of disappointment and under-appreciation that the value of marriage is above the value of education in this society. “So when are you getting married? People have been talking about you. And I am very ashamed of that.” I’m like “Hmm…Don’t you want to talk about my exam first?!’.
To give you a little background, I am a Cambodian girl who is in my 20s and has already obtained a BA and currently pursing an MD, and more shockingly, HAS a boyfriend (a caucasian boyfriend to be more precise. I’ll spare the talk about how NICE it is to date a white guy when you are a Cambodian or live in Cambodia in another article. It will take another long article to portray all the judgements I have faced). Since the start of our relationship, I have never been ashamed to tell the world about it, nor have I intended to keep it as a secret. I merely am very private of my personal life and I’m a strong believer that I have the right to decide with whom I should share my intimate life story. And I want to savour that special honour to only share with my besties and people who actually care about me and my life, the one who only want the best for me, not the ones who would just run out of topic to discuss during one of their sad little pathetic days of their life and decide to choose to “talk” and be very critical and analytical about my personal life, because to be honest, it’s not that complicated and thrilling as political issues that need that much attention or analytical discussion. It simply is another person’s business and none of theirs. In a nice possible way, it has no place up on the “coffee table” for their discussion [full stop] To make it easier for you out there, it’s a story about two people who first date and then get to know each other to see if they can stand each other for the rest of their lives and not kill each other along the way or every chance they get when they are sick of seeing each other’s face before they tie the knot. Quite a simple concept to grasp, right?
To further my point on how the society in which I have brought up and lived is severely and dangerously pro-man (NOT bromance, or maybe it is), when a woman stays single for too long, they would say there must be something wrong with her that nobody fancies her. When a woman has a boyfriend at 16, she is a whore. When she marries young, she is throwing away her life. When she marries a rich man, she is a gold digger. When the husband files for divorce, it’s the woman’s fault because she doesn’t know how to keep the husband and make marriage work. When the woman files for divorce, she is a slut who has [definitely] cheated on her husband, and obviously doesn’t care about her family’s image or the sake of her children. When she doesn’t get married again, she is promiscuous and not a wife material. When she finally decides to get married again, she is a whore who constantly craves for libido and goes after the man’s fortune…. Oh the name-calling list goes on…. I can’t contain my gastric flux in anymore. Writing all of these makes me want to hurl.
What a hypocrite society! I of course try to retain my precious tradition and my identity. I carry it around everywhere I go in the world. It is in my blood, my skin, my attitude and my language. There are indeed some traditional customs to which I still strongly hold on tight, especially the one with the respect for the elderly (how we refer to everyone who is older than us as “bong” meaning “brother or sister” and the adjacency of our family. Be that as it may, there are some that I despise to the core: the statuses in society, the gender inequality, and the male chauvinism. And it is in a critiically deteriorated and backward state that is in need of “revolutionary perception.”