No Country for Women

There was an instance when I knew that this place is fucked up beyond words to describe. And this US election result reinstates my thought.

This is not even a safe place for women to have an opinion let alone walking around alone at night.

This is not a safe place for women where a high percentage of men still have the perception that men are better than women in many ways especially in workforce and still act like a misogynistic prick and think that’s okay.

It’s not a safe place when many people still disregard the issue of sexism and gender inequality and still believe that it simply is a myth that women created to demand and a beg for more than what they are “created” or “entitled” to be rather than an actual issue.

It’s not a safe place when we still create different bubbles for our son and daughter to live in. One is to dream big and high while the other is to live under the glass ceiling.

This is not a safe place for women when parents still only preach their daughters to cover up their bodies worrying of people’s judgement and not teaching everyone to not cast random judgement.

This is not a safe place for women when we still expect certain stereotypical roles from each gender.

This is not a safe place for women when women who go out late at night are all labelled bad girls and when men who go out late at night are considered cool and manly.

It’s not a safe place when women are so regularly subjected to sexual harassment and abuse and most of the cases are turned blind-eye by the justice and the public.

It’s not a safe place when women are subject to catcalling every day and every time she walks down the street, despite however she dresses or when people in the society think that catcalling is a way to compliment women and praise her beauty.

It’s not a safe place when women are too scared to report any harassment or abuse and have to succumb to the same abuse the rest of her life because people would tell her “You can’t talk about it because it would damage your reputation.”

It’s not a safe place for women when women don’t even protect other fellow women. When a female supervisor would ignore your sexual harassment complaint citing you overdramatise and overreact over the situation and that it could have [it could have] been just a tease from the male counterpart. That’s the moment when you know you are fucked to be in such a dangerous place for women, that there’s no safe exit you can run to, that there’s no one to report your case to, and there’s no one even willing to listen to your story. There are only people who will instantly judge you for dressing too “provocatively”.

It’s not a safe place when men openly and braggingly talk about sexual assault or force women to have sex opposing their consent because such act is considered to be acceptable or brand as a “boy talk” or “boy thing” to do among boys or even men.

This is not a safe place when parents allow their boys to attack little girls at playground citing that “he can’t handle her cuteness.”

It’s not a safe place when such act has been normalized and accepted into our society that turns against women and make this a dangerous place for women to be a part of literally and metaphorically.

It’s not a safe place when men instead of discouraging and condemning another man’s behavior of abuse and mistreatment towards women but praise and join in on the act.

It’s not a safe place when ignorance toward sexual abuse exists by turning a blind-eye towards abuse, to think that abuse is a myth, to brand certain behaviors as appropriate for certain gender, or to call it a locker room talk.

This is not a fucking safe place when children grow up in a household to witness where the father still abuses the mother. This is not a fucking safe place when your son grows up to mirror your behaviour and think it is OKAY to lay your hands on women or treat women with an utmost disrespect.

This is not a safe place when you can throw jokes here at there on social media about how girls are expected to look a certain way (slim, slender, petite and in shape) and pray men who have belly as a product of beer consumption.

It’s not a safe place when on social media, we joke about the value of women (dowry) and attach a different price tag for women of different age groups.

It’s not a safe place for women when we label women as “girlfriend type, a wifey type, a concubine type, karaoke girl type” based on how they dress, when men can be seen walking around flashing their beer belly with only a krama around their waist and that is common.

It’s not a safe place for women when gender privilege plays a big role in how each gender plays out in the eye of the public.

It’s not a safe play for women when education has to be selectively chosen to give to your children based on their genders.

It’s a disgraceful and dangerous place for women!

The Danger of Social Conformity

The Danger of Social Conformity

Maybe I’ve been attending too many weddings this month and been getting too many “when is your turn?” questions, the thought of “settling down” and what “success” mean to me starts to trigger my mind. (*I quotemark there as I don’t agree with the definition of settling down meaning marriage or success meaning rating of one’s life quality.)

To be in your 20s and in Cambodia, it is sensible enough [to them] that your family and surprisingly others (some you have no idea they exist or how any of these should be their business) start pestering you about your future plan: your career, your partner, your wedding day, your house, your car, and your saving.

A lot of my peers are “considered” to be on the right track, graduating with a fancy “on-the-wall” certificate as a doctor, a lawyer, a banker…, getting a job with an average wage of 500USD, getting a dowry of 20KUSD, planning a lavishing 30K USD wedding, sending their kids to an “international” school and bragging how “cool” their kids are to be able to speak English, the list goes on, just base it on everything that may appear in the book of a typical life cycle: birth, schooling, working, and death.

However, if you turn out to not be one of those people who are longing for what I have described above, you are considered a loser and to them your life sucks to the very core. Of course, why would anyone not wanting to sit comfortably in a latest model of Lexus 570, or to live in a 2 storey mansion, or to have 10 HD televisions, or have the most extravagant and high profile wedding of the century, or have money to afford the latest gadget and those materialistic products. Wait did I just describe the life of Kim Kardashian?

Because to them, traveling and exploring the world, chasing after the blue sky to your real dream, expanding your options and knowledge, opening the eyes to see the core value of life and not living your life according to the book are not amounting to all the fame and recognition you would gain from being conformed into this society.

Not putting up with conformity of your society doesn’t mean that you have to alienate yourself from your family or your society. It only means that you are willing to let go of their opinions of who you are and to limit its effect on your life and your decision. One day, you can prove to them the true satisfaction of your decision and of the kind of life you’ve led.

Have you heard of the mythical theory “the Lemming Theory”? Lemming is small rodent looking quite similar to a mouse. The theory came about after a study of a lemming group which mysteriously plunged themselves off the cliff one after another resulting in their death for no reason [we thought]. It later explained that lemmings blindly followed those in front of them to their death just to conform with the pack and not question the order. Even though, this theory is only a myth; it teaches us a valuable lesson that conformity and relying too much on group-think instead of your own thought may kill your creativity and most important of all, kill you.

Society, in a sense, is a lot like a school. They need to somehow set up a status quo like school does with standardized test to measure the unrealistic success of each individual. Those who lead their lives like the lemmings will constantly follow the majority thinking everything they do is right and acceptable without questioning it against your personal value. Only until they reach the edge of the cliff that they know all of these wealth, fame, social approval are all for nothing when you are there alone being pushed by your society to plunge into your own death. Only then would you realise that all of these [you think] you’ve thrived for so far is only to chase after the approval of your society and there’s nothing in it for yourself as you was never once living your own life up to your own expectation but to others’.

What it feels like to be demotivated when you work as a motivator

So I walked into my office feeling the worst I could possibly feel as a human being. It’s one of those days when you feel so exhausted physically and worst of all emotionally.

I have been dealing with loads of horse-craps lately. I’ve felt like maybe I’m almost hitting the bottom. Have you ever plunged down so hard and fast and thought to yourself “I wish I was getting closer to rock bottom, but I am not.”

As you grow up to be an adult you do realise that the phrase “money is not everything” is true, especially when it comes to working. Being appreciative is the most encouraging and motivating reward a person could receive to keep on pushing with their work. It doesn’t have to come from somewhere high above your head. It has to come from a person who is genuinely appreciating the work you do.

People nowadays tend to get out of bed every day and go to work lifelessly like a robot. When we were a kid, our parents liked to ask us this very simple “what do you want to do when you grow up?”. All of us may have very different answers to this. However, there’s a simple truth lying behind all those answers. Nothing is more pure and innocent that kids’ answer, like they say “If an adult says you’re ugly, it might be true or it might not be. But when a kid says you’re ugly, you’re definitely ugly. ;)” As a kid, we all wished to be SOMEBODY who would make a difference like being a doctor who saves people’s life, or being a firefighter who would be as close to being real-life superhero, or being a lawyer to bring justice to this world. When you grow up, you realise that all of these are just happy thoughts or maybe that is how this “mad” world has shaped your perspective.

We all grow up to be a businessman, a stock broker, a finance officer…. and we think to ourselves nobody can be as bad and money-driven as us. We do not make any difference. As a matter of fact, all we care is number and all our bosses care is to get higher number from us. If you are a manager, your CEO wants a higher number in company’s revenue. If you are a teacher, your boss wants a higher number in students’ turnover rate. If you are a service person, your boss wants higher numbers in services. If you are a salesperson, your boss wants higher number in product sales. Simply because the bosses of our bosses always want more from each one of us. We all lose our sense in this pathetic rat race. People keep on pressuring each other from top to bottom, failing to fulfil the most important element in leadership role, and that is to motivate and inspire your subordinates. But who motivates you when you are a boss or leader and feel very demotivated?

Being a teacher, I regard myself as a leader or a mentor or a motivator. I believe that people learn best when they are at their comfort self and motivated self. I always try my best to play my best role as a study counselor, guardian, faciliator, motivator…. We, as a human, is refreshed and fed on ego (that ego is made up of achievement and recognition) to go on just like machine is fed on fuel. When students feel like giving on their study, teachers would try their best to get the student’s energy and purpose back on track. Nevertheless, when teachers feel like giving up their jobs who would motivate them? To put it in broader spectrum, so that many others can relate, who would motivate adult when they want to give up?

To Live in a Culture of Misogyny

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.”

Dear Mr. Perfect (for Me)

Dear Mr. Perfect (for Me)

I know you’re somewhere out there. But I do not know for sure if I’ll ever meet you or if we can spend the rest of our life together. No matter what, you’re always in my heart and my dream. Even if I end up with the wrong guy. But if you are reading this, it means that you’re him. And if I don’t get to meet you, i will carry this letter to myself for the rest of my life to remind myself that you are whom I deserve.

Every girl has her own little fairy tale, that includes ending up with the love of her life and have the happy ending she always dreams of. Though, the question of the fact that we get to live that fairy tale or not, it all depends on fate. I won’t blame fate or anybody else for the way my life actually goes.

First of all, I’m a human being and a GIRL. If I tell you that I’m not like other girls, that I’m special, that I’m different, please listen but just don’t take it seriously. I’m just like every other girl in the whole wide world. I’m typical. I mean the opposite of what I’m saying. I want attention. I want to be loved. I want to be taken care of. I want you to be romantic. I want you to be a good lover. I want you to listen to me. I want you to tell me that I’m always beautiful to you. I want you to tell me I’m right even when I’m wrong. I want you to take the blame. I want you to love me for who I am. I don’t want you to ever cheat on me even emotionally or physically (and in my case, emotionally is more serious than physically). I don’t want you to yell at me. I want you to surprise me. I want you not to ask what I want but rather you give me what I want without me telling you. I want to sleep on your arm every night (even if I know how numb your arms would get). I want to wake up with your breath to my neck along with the song of the birds singing outside the window every morning  as long as it could go. I want you to make breakfast in bed for me even if it’s an overcooked or a rare omelet. I want you to chase after me. I want you to stand outside the door even after I just slam it in your face; but most importantly, I want you to always love me and only me and I want to have your babies.

The list of what I want can still go on. But that doesn’t matter. I know if you really exist as a human being, you won’t be able to get all the things I want done because that is just impossible. But if you really do love me, you wouldn’t think that what I want is too much to ask for and you would do all of it without frowning.

My moon, my star, please forgive me for the flaws I have and the mistakes I don’t mean to make. Please forgive me when I yell at you, when I say I hate you (even when I love you from all my heart and never in one single second hate you and I was just saying that in the moment of heat), when I hurt you, when I overreact, when my mood is swinging, when I’m jealous (just because I love you too much, but sure I will try to keep it down), when I embarrass you, when my cooking is not good, when I don’t laugh at your joke, when I talk too much, when I want you to put your remote control down to listen to me, when I talk during your game time, when I ask you why you’re so obsessed with sport and beer, when I don’t get you, when I can’t get to fullfill what you want, when I want you to watch romantic movies with me, when I don’t like the movie you pick out, when I say I want to break up (even when I don’t and still love you), when I’m too emotional, when I cry during movie, when I fall a sleep in your arm and make it numb, when I can’t sit through your favorite movie, when I have no interest in your new boy’s toy, when I don’t want you to hang out with your buddies or go to your sport events…

I know that some of what I ask for are unreasonable, but darling you’ve got to know that again I’M A GIRL.

I also know that you’d change into a whole different person someday. I just dream that you’d stay the same (the guy of my dream) for as long as possible.

I really would love to see us growing old together, having a retirement home on the bay of the beach. But at the moment I can never picture such things in my head as I have no trust in marriage. I don’t think that two people can grow old together. Baby, I hope you are the one who can change that about me. I hope you’d show me that true love exists and happy ending of the fairy tale I want can exist as long as we commit to make it happen. Even if that happy ending doesn’t last until the moment death parts us. It can happen at any point of life but just please make sure that it’s a HAPPY ENDING between us.

I’m scared as much as guys are when it comes to spending the rest of my life with someone. I’m scared of what if I changed or you changed, what if I grew old or ugly or fat and you did too, what if we were not attracted to each other anymore, what if we drove each other crazy every day, can we still love each other?

I need you to assure me that no matter what we will overcome it together, that you will always be there for me, that you always care about me.

With all the love I have in the world,

Your girl

This Is How I’ll Date You

Thought Catalog

IMG_2672-2 Taylor Aikins

I’ll date you because I choose to. I will desire you with every dawn and I will desire you with every dusk. I will date you because you make me laugh, because despite your flaws and your temperaments, my heart feels safe within your hands. I will date you and I will pay no mind to the alternative, I will turn a blind eye to the people who stare because my gaze was made for your gaze. In this generation option creeps into relationships like a dangerous siren, but I will never be swayed by its song, for when I date you, I will date only you.

I will date you in a forgetful way. I wont be able to recall the time you were born, or your mothers middle name. I will forget mini anniversaries, I will forget appointments. However, I will never forget the way you…

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To Feel “Blue Like Jazz”

To Feel “Blue Like Jazz”

“Before I want to be unique. Now I just want to fit in and be normal again.” My head is numbed with all the thoughts and doubts stirred up by the book. Blue Like Jazz teaches me to let myself be loved and to love others around me. My heart ached tremendously when I read that last two chapters. I was thinking the whole time of how bad I’ve been treating the people who genuinely care and love me for who I am the most. I was riding my bike here and I was thinking about that chapter and a phrase that goes: “To let somebody love you the whole time.”  My tears were rolling down in public in front of many people, still I couldn’t care less. I need someone to go home to. I can’t go on the path of just me alone all the time like this. Donald Miller says it best: “God created human to be with others, not to be alone and so we’ve got to let others love it. We can’t keep locking ourselves in this prison. Release yourself.” I’ve been locking my heart in and kept it as my own prisoner far so long until I’ve lost all the sense of sharing and letting people in. I thought I was doing good to protect myself. I was spitefully wrong. To not let people in our life doesn’t gurantee protection of our soul. It actually does harm more harm than good to our fragile soul. I agree with Donald Miller on so many levels. He truly speaks right to his readers. Sometimes, you really gotta let love approach you. He wanted to be loved some time, but not all the time. He didn’t want a relationship that he had the need to come home to the same person every day. I can also relate to Donald Miller when he talks about how being a writer and being broke means to him. He felts unproductive just like I do. I don’t know how to describe it. I just know the feelings. Maybe that’s just the life of a writer. You don’t get paid on a regular basis. You feel useless. You feel lazy. You feel like you haven’t done much because you’d just sit around all day reading this and that, throwing others’ books around and resent them for being a better writer, you’re in your sweatpants all day long, you pick up your writing when you feel like it. From time to time, you kind of lose track of your own aspiration and purpose of what you want to do. I’ve been feeling so useless and unproductive lately. I feel like in the middle of tonle sap river, so lost and so wide. I closed my eyes then. I could tell the feelings of uncertainty regarding which way I should go or where this boat is taking me to. This feeling is so scary, especially when you don’t equip with the skills to survive. I feel so naive and inexperienced to deal with all the rejections and how to get through life. I really do wish I could just pause all my thoughts.