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. (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". (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, 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 is of Som Mana, Keo Pichpisey, Sok Pisey and Doung Zorida. Photo from khmer-chitchat.