Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Scary F word...Feminism

I am on my lunch break and I feel compelled to write up this blog for those of you who still read it. I would like to come out of the closet no not that closet the feminist closet because as much as I have talked about my work in gender to many of you I don’t know how many of you or the random people who read this blog  get why I care about gender. Let me state this I would even go so far as considering myself what would be labeled as radical feminist and I am more than okay with this I sort of embrace it, to the point hierarchy and social status is on my mind every min of every day. Let me first give you as quick history lesson 2nd wave feminism is the one most people are aware of and it did in fact drive a movement for equality. However because of this one type of feminism most people feel they no longer have to identify as a feminist as equality in most people’s mind already exist in America (of course I could argue that it does not but for now we will say equality exist). While I of course will always work towards equality but when we talk about feminism it goes way deeper than just equality but that of hierarchy this impacts life daily for most living things. Even with in one’s own social circles you can see a power dynamic, however most people don’t want to even acknowledge the power structure in which they are a part of (ask y that is?). To understand this even more so take yourself out of your own social circles or networks and start to think of the world at large for me this is the train of thought that starts me to think about feminism from a different cultures perspective. This past week one of the only news show I really like to watch and happily watch it while doing laundry, is Melissa Harris Perry show and she calls attention to the lack of understanding white feminism has towards black feminism. As for the dominate class in most cases white people we tend to forget about black history and the mammy roles that existed that because someone like Michele Obama in this case, is not acting in a radical activist way that some people might have hoped for does not mean she is not contributing to feminist it’s just not white feminism. If you want to know more about black feminism I highly suggest reading Bell hooks (more radical) and Patricia Hill Collins it helped me get way more insight into what I was missing from a white America perspective its helped me figure things out while living in Cambodia. I bring this all up for the simple fact I have a feeling the mainstream media thinks that it has silenced majority of people to not recognizing feminism for how it has actually evolved instead they question “is there any feminist left” “is it the end of men as we know it” “equality exist so the activist have left to other cause”. These are just some things I can think up of now but in reality no one in mainstream media is asking about how the power dynamics and social class divide and how it is impacting all of us daily. Most people want to believe that people taking to the streets has died out and there for we r all accepting that we live in an equal classes society. In research especially related to development we say things like gender blind approach but I think for where we are at in society it’s more like a power blind approach to everything. I have to get back to work so I will stop my babbling but just know that the streets are now the world wide web and that if you really want to understand the world around you suggest people take back to more feminist ideology which can be applied to most hierarchy’s. Once you do your life will never be the same again but hey at least people will know there is far more into it then just equality.  Next time I might come up with a reading list for you all bc it may shock you but I read this stuff on my free time reading. Anyways peace out form the other side of the world talk to you again soon!!!           

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It's the millenium, we don't say things like working class anymore?

I am counting down the days until I get to see all of your faces =) I still have so much to do but as I am sitting on my lunch break at work I am thinking about my experience in Cambodia and how sometimes my ideals have been put to the test. While living in the village I was challenged to grow to understand true poverty so much so that maybe at some points I have diluted myself into thinking that I can relate and maybe is some ways I can but my American privilege will always keep me in a spectators roles bc even though I was “Living” it I could never really live it bc I will always have away out and the people I was living with will never have that. However it has been my time in Phnom Penh that has forced me to realize this in a much deeper way because in the village it is me and Khmer nationals where in Phnom Penh for the first time on a daily based I get to see how the class system truly thrives between Khmer people and expats. I don’t know how to begin this next segment of what’s running through my mind but it goes something like this I told myself that I needed to diversify my friends now that I am in the city I should have expat friends not just Khmer friends. However after coming out village life I really did not know where to start add that with the compounding factor of I still did not have a paid job and my volunteer work was in an all Khmer organization than the weekends I went to class with all Khmer student my interaction with the expat class was severely limited.  For a while before my land lord got all pissy I did host couch surfers a lot and that made me feel I was trying and it was working but once that stopped the only thing I really had left was my roommate Liz’s coworkers who are all teaching eng at what is considered the best eng school in Cambodia. Most of them are European and not American this is not all that important except this does add to the class system in which most not all of the bonding experience in this group when I have gone out with them is bitching about either Khmer culture American culture and then comparing it to mostly British culture. On a side note I just found out that the map of the world that I have always seen in American text books is not a standardized map they use in Europe in fact the one in Britain they make themselves the center of the world I find this amusing. Anyways so most of my days are spent around Khmer people and I would never think to myself in a superior way and either would most expats even though the shit they say states otherwise. The thing about hanging out with this particular group of people is they see class and I think really feel there are rules to be followed and people who you can and cannot interacted with. So while I by deff make it into the same class as them based on my up bring edu wealth etc I am excluded bc I break the class rules by allowing people who they view as having no class into a dinner party or an event these just so happen to be Khmer nationals who don’t make the cut. They will act very friendly to a seller or a driver but those people get made fun of at their dinner parties or various outings as not knowing bank or saying blank wearing blank… as if there ever is a right way of being except I think in some part of the culture the expat normative concepts takes over even when the group is the minority group in the situation but somehow there wealth dilutes them into thinking that they can set the normative tone in Khmer culture. I should also mention expats in Cambodia have a shelf life of about 6 months to a year and they leave a very few stick around but for the most part there in and out so it’s a lot of effort to make new way of expat friends every 6 months. Well so I shake up the class divide bc I don’t just say hello and fake smile at the sellers in part bc I lived with a family of seller for two years I know how to joke around and have actual relationships with sellers to the point where I can invite them out and it does not phase me to invite them to some expat dinner party until I get there and realize they don’t want to control their serotyping behavior. This is what bring me to my current state of mind wondering how much class should impact my relationships with people I mean I really believe in equality and ending oppression but do I live my life like that for real? I was thinking about that sex and the city episode when the case system gets brought up bc the lawyer in the show starts to date a bar tender and the word working class gets brought up and then comes the you can’t pretend we live in a classless system when we do and then a shot of the Asian women painting there feet. I can say at least in my family there is a concept of class for instances if I started to date certain minorities it would be a topic of conversation or if the person was of the right color skin but lacked an education I would get asked how will they support themselves what can you really have in common with someone who is blank. The thing is though while in my mind we have a class system in American, Cambodia and worldwide I feel that in our current state of the social media revolution or even globalization to some extent all of us especially myself will be forced in one way or another to go outside our small circle of normalcy’s and maybe have to face class “disparities” so to speak differently. In some ways I am stronger person since being in Cambodia bc I have been an outsider and insider and everything in between and its helped me to maybe push class boundaries and force some people to meet the “Khmer other” though I’m still not quite sure people in the expat subgroup of people are ready to really understand the level of poverty that there seller faces or there driver bc that would make them have to start to realize their own privilege in life and well it’s not easy to do, to see how your actions maybe oppressing someone else. I can say that first acknowledging and accepting my American privilege has been an uphill challenge bc I keep going all over the place in my mind about it and now that I am single it’s made me think more so about the divide if I end up finding someone in a developing country like Cambodia most likely our classes will not be the same it would be one thing for me to get over that concept but what about the rest of the world it would be a constant battle to be allowed to “sit at the front of the bus together” not that I mean to use sex and the city as a real time reference but in the end the lawyer marries the bar tender and in the show they make it seem like people and the couple learns to accept it but in real life I don’t think things would go so smoothly. In the show no one talks behind the couples back about why they are even together but in real life I have seen it once that couple leaves the room it will get brought up. The complexities of society really baffle me some times but the things that keeps me at ease is that I realize that society and the rules are always changing (however slowly) so while being a crusader/activist by going against the norms it what has to happen for things to change. Well see you in a few weeks peace out from the other side of the world!!!!!!!!! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Too Clever by Half

Well for the first time in recent history for Cambodia people stopped being scared of change and standing up to power with that said I sort of felt a need to stay out of the city for a few days while the elections went down just incase something bad happened. I choose Palin as my destination because I have never been and it is a 5 min drive to the boarder of Thailand incase stuff got real crazy I could leave the country. Pailin is famous for rubies in their dirt and ex Khmer rouge solders living there now in my head I had this insanely different picture of Pailin that went something like this a poor desolate place where these ex-soldiers slink off in a corner somewhere and everyone hates them and a town that barley had roads sort of ghost town like. However in reality it was way different majestic really it is UN touched jungle with waterfalls and mts and ironically enough these ex Khmer Rouge soldiers were not poor saps in the corner they are rich and have a lot of money. Moreover they are in the run of the gov there which I was really surprised about but I think I get a better idea of what is going on in that land all over Cambodia is sold to Chinese companies but pailin the gov leaves them alone I think it’s a secret agreement that they don’t try to fight and watch and protect the Thai Cambodia border. I also thought it was just a few soldiers turns out the whole place is ex-soldiers basically every other person of a certain age you run into is missing a limb, an eye or has severe burns on their face with that said I will begin to explain why I was only too clever by half. So these soldiers love the current ruling party cpp so I inadvertently put my escape root with possible black opp type solders for the CPP I should also mention that I did not go to Pailin alone I went with Alin from my village and her sister both of them used to live there and work in the Casino and have family in the area who we stayed with. Ironically these family members where ex Khmer Rouge why this is crazy is I spent the night in these peoples house and they were supper nice to me but u know when u ask about them before getting their I get a line like this “ming khume pou-kai kamplug” my aunt was the most skilled at shooting people all good stuff to keep in mind right. Not gonna lie these ex khmer rouge people were not the type who would never claim they were forced or scared to die if they did not join these are like the leaders who really push the ideology and shit with that said there whole year 0 thing and not wanting any other cultural influence made me wonder if they were just acting nice to me but hating me secretly but it honestly did not feel that way hummm. Well as I went riding around on a moto I got to see some cool stuff I got to go looking for rubies I did not find any maybe next time but never the less the first day of my trip was a good time. The second day I went to this mt that is called green mt and it was soo pretty it goes up 10 levels but it’s important to note that it’s not paved and really off the beating trail but that’s the benefit when u go somewhere like this with Khmer people they know all the way to get places that are missing in lonely planet. Well that night before the elections the news who I might add is stated owned and controlled was playing a rerun clip that remind me something out of an snl skit I don’t know if I can describe it but it went something like this going to different khmer people asking them about the opposition party and then a camera will show a girl wearing a tank top and some old khmer lady will say something like cnrm is destroying khmer culture they are going to break are women. Another one of my favorite skits I mean news shots was this homeless guy huffing and then they shoot back to cnrp having an Election Day party basically claiming that they are passing out drugs to homeless people. Then the news people where trying to prove that cnrp is a bunch of young kids making trouble so they were vandals in every providence however they lack video clips for this so instead they tried to blur out the background pretend it was different place in Cambodia while it was the same people in every shot lmao. Anyways this is like comedy to me so im crying laughing so hard sitting next to some ex khmer commrads looking at me like im crazy then I try to explain to them in khmer why I think this shit is so funny don’t think it translated o well I had a fun time watching the news. Okay well on to the day of the elections pretty much all the news did all day long was say how fair the election r this year and showing the special ink that was donated my India that cannot be wiped off (except it has been proven that it in fact can me) I know shocker anyways this went on all day long smiling police etc showing their finger to the camera. Meanwhile facebook has changed the name of the game in this country and the election no one will believe a word the news says so instead u got kids and people posting up video clips anything to facebook showing the polling stations and all the corruption more than 1 million people have been left or eliminated off the voters list this year see my last post for the map. In the past people where hopless for change so they just did not care this year that was all different and because of that people got mad and a bunch of people burned a police car and turned it over even the monks on the video were helping. Cambodians are very biased against Vietnamese immigrants sometime I feel its way to harsh but I sort of understand why not Vietnamese people who don’t have citizenship are allowed to vote while khmer people are not its quite strange I have never seen anything like it. So the polling stations closed and the kid who works for the ministry comes home and we start making phone calls to see what the numbers are well at this point it’s about 4:00 and huge upset it looks like CNRP won despite all the odds stacked against them and these results came from the counters in other provinces so it’s pretty official. Well as this is showing up all over facebook less than an hour later people are all posting pictures and video that army is out they closed down all these streets blah blah. Meanwhile the state run news has stopped showing anything and instead puts on khmer dancers for the next two hours if we did not have internet we would be lost. Around 8 pm the news comes back on to go down the winner and comes out that cpp won though at this point most people don’t believe it felt that the military forced CNRP hand which is sort of proven bc this letter that the CNRP leader send around went something like this “Please stay Calm thank you for your support but they have guns and I have nothing do not try to fight on my behalf bc you will only end up dyeing” O yea maybe I should mention Cambodia law prohibits owning a fire arm so only the military, police can have them so most people are pretty defenseless in a circumstance like this. More important u might be wondering will all the military really support the current ruler and the answer is does not matter bc the military is only slightly trained however the P.M has 10,000 yea that’s right 10,000 of his own person security guards that are supper trained basically meaning even if the military tried to go against him they would lose as well so to stay alive I feel they would back him. Well anyways my roommate went back to Phnom Penh that night from a village down south I was way up north to see tanks and trucks rolling past a rd near r house they were not just preventing riots it was a fear tactic however in the past that really did work but it seem less people care now.  Anyways now the Gestapo is out and about I can’t go home because all the taxi are freaked out and don’t want to go into Phnom Penh and I am feeling sorry for my roommate being left alone with things so uncertain. I finally find a taxi back but its way more expensive then when we came but what can we do so on the way back I stop in my village to give my host fam some fruit and see what was going on their last night and my host mom just goes off, That she wants someone to get him out of office it’s not fair. She is scared for me to go back to phnom penh then she begins to give me lessons on how to crawl on the ground like a solider and apparently bc my apt is the top of a house they like to shoot high so im in more danger got to love my host mom for just being so blunt about things like this. My host mom is 66 and she refuses to watch tv bc it lies to her now instead now I have to sit down with my ipad and let her watch the news via facebook so I guess u can say she is a truly informed citizen now. Going back to work things seem both normal and slightly off like people where deff unsure what would happen and CNRP was contesting the loss claiming different results. This then caused the current ruler to yet again to take out the army and close the streets off only issues is I work right around the block so I was stuck in this barricaded area until they finally directed traffic another way and soon enough I see a park filled with people and Sam Riansey…  is it me or does that not seem like a bad idea to direct traffic into the oppositions rally bc if I went home as normal I would have no idea it was going on they are basically giving him more support just saying. No final results are in apparently it might be two months in the meantime Cambodian people is calling for international help and wants the UN back in create a true democracy and to count the votes for real. As you can see this whole post is only to clever by half and to add to this I think I caught some kind of bug and have been really sick with a 102 temp based on my blood results which are in French instead of eng err I am anemic have limited white blood cells and may have either Dengue, malaria or typhoid fever sigh I came back into work today bc I have enough energy to type at a desk the past two days I could do nothing sort of sucked my host sister came in yesterday to take care of me but I made her go back to sell I felt bad. Anyways peace out from the other side of the world!!!     


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Boat Chnout JIT JIT

Translated the Election are happening this weekend and it occurred to me I have not updated you in a while though I am not sure how many people care but at least i can show you some pictures etc.
So this is how campaigning works in Cambodia especially if you are the opposition party you are not given space to really set up anything so instead you drive around with speakers on ur car and moto and whatever else.

 So every morning bc the CNRP head quarters is close my house i wake up to there them song it starts at about 6:30 and ends at about 10 at night. O and after 20 years in self exile the leader Sam Ramsey received a pardon from the king and has returned this video is at the air port. The crowds go back for miles its pretty crazy. National news was not allowed to cover his return but VOA (VOICE of America was on it).

It is not only CNRP out and about but the current ruling party as well however people tell me that they pay people between 5-10 usd where CNRP go out for free. the current phrases one hears lately is doh mon doh which means change or not and then the number which for CNRP is 7 and CPP is 4 there are many other parties but I guess you can say these are the two that matter. The smallest is this democratic peoples party and they are angry that no one will talk about what their policy's are.

What as shocked me so in America voting stuff is in an age bracket of 40 plus who get supper involved its why you know to raise money they have dinners to raise money bc in America it seems assumed that the youth will not par take seriously. I guess one can argue that the Obama Campaign changed that but on the whole you get what i mean. Well anyways in Cambodia it is reversed kids still in hs and college in some cases single handily are in charge of campaign efforts rain or shine they are out on their motos in the back of a truck for the past month to get people to vote for their party. This however is new according to people i talk to social networking has changed voter participation also what has worked in the past for the current ruling party is no as effective as now the majority of voters did not witness the genocide and want a none corrupt government with true democracy.

Nearly all of Phnom Penh’s communes have voter registration rates in excess of 100 per cent, amounting to more than 145,000 additional names, with one commune topping the 200 per cent mark, an analysis of previously unseen government population data reveals. Further analysis of the already public National Election Committee voter list shows there are more than 25,000 exact duplicate names in Phnom Penh alone. Basically it is estimated that about 10 percent of the voting population has been removed from the list and excess names have been added especially in key battle areas where the current ruling party is losing ground.

So the return of the opposition leader has been given credit to America however I think it was more UN influence never the less Cambodians think its all Obama not sure why but people are always thanking me one old man came up to me as i was walking to school to shake my hand.

Will Things stay the same or...

Will they change doh mon doh??

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More Then Meets the Eye

I saw this and thought about gender expectations and how sometimes it really is like what Atticus Finich have to walk a mile in someones shoes. Think about all the people we have ignored because they did not meet some social ideal. I think I myself have had a few break down moments when I realized how my own brain washing has caused me to make people invisible anyways this is clip just sort of made me want to repost. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

happy we got the british out of america day!

Well I guess we had another 4th of July and fyi living overseas believe me when I say that the Brits are still hostile about us throwing that tea over board haha. Im sure they are just sad bc almost every country has a freedom from the UK but what do they get nada. I played with some sparklers and that was about it the embassy has 5 dollar tickets but there is to many people and not enough food for the 5 bucks.  On other good news I got my camera working again so I will soon to have a million new pics to share with you all of my new office etc.  o right its presidential elections in Cambodia and I can fully heartily admit USA elections r crazy in their own way Cambodia has a whole different kind of crazy! For ex only the ruling party has space to set up events so the opposition parties are forced to be on the move all the time so there are like 1000 kids n moto’s with flags representing their party in oncoming traffic and when u on a bike and they come at u the best way I can describe it to you guys it’s like that part in the lion king when Siba and his dad on in the stampede.  The whacked out thing is that the current ruling party pays university students 10 dollars a day to stand on the side of the rd so the party looks cool hip etc and all of the parties go around blasting music but the ruling party has the most money so they seem to have I kid u not trucks with movie screens on them playing music videos of the current president. I should also not delude u to think any of this is a fair election however all the parties do try to gain votes im pretty sure the current party has to win and yeah there is an or else. In the papers it’s been stated by the current ruling party president if he loses there will be civil war it will be all the CNRP fault (that’s the most popular party) anyways I just thought bc CPP (the current ruling party) has been in power for the past 20 years they sort of had his in the bag however the stuff coming out in the papers r all the threats the current P.M is making is as if he is nervous and im not sure I understand why. It also goes without saying u do not want to be an ngo or work in the gov and not support the cpp im pretty for what I understand u can lose ur job esp if u r in the gov and don’t help run the campaign. As for the war I don’t see it actually happening bc I really don’t think cpp will lose (too much corruption at the voting booth) however incase to ease ur minds I will leave Phnom Penh for the weekend of the election bc that’s where all the military is however poor Cambodians really think that if that happens that America will send in our military to uphold democracy.  Though we did get free of the press back in Cambodia VOA VOICE OF AMERICA is a huge radio station in Cambodia esp in the village level and the ruling party kicked them out a week ago for the month of the elections and the US Embassy I think said no more funding blah blah and two days later VOA and all other foreign press was allowed back in it should be noted that Khmer press is owned by the current party so the only way to get a fair balance of news is though things like the VOA my host dad loves the VOA when I lived with him he used to tell me all sorts of things and ask me questions and when he realized VOA had a web site would make me go online. Well ill stop with the political update bc I have some stories about the cream of wheat guy which know u all love to read about! Okay so I may have mention that im not sure if he is mentally challenged or messing with me it goes back and forth bc im always so unsure but now im back on the though process that he is messing with my head. So the other day he updates on his Skype that he is in Cambodia now im like wtf is this real or not I don’t know??? The thing about him though is I can’t ask him bc if he is messing with my head that’s what he wants me to do bait me to see if ill flip out it’s like the longest game of war I have ever played with someone anyways then he tries to call me but im at work so I don’t pick up and bc I have skype plus even if im not on I can get voicemail messages but he did not know this so he did not know that I would know he called basically all I heard in my voicemail was click click. Now im thinking why is he calling me unless he is already in Cambodia so now I have to call my host sister to warn her and to warn jentu as well bc he hated jentu and I dunno could see him trying to pull something with her as well. I already had plans to go to the village for a day bc it was my host moms bday so I thought I can figure out more when im there.  Side the bday party was fun the thing about my host mom is I think she encourages me to do things that r not culturally normal but things she has wanted to do in her life. Well in between the next interaction I had with cream of wheat guy my host grandmamma died of what exactly not sure this is what I can guess maybe she had hpv that turned into uterus cancer that then spread to her bones this is all a guess though based on what they told me her symptoms were. I sort of felt like the whole her dyeing was a freak show I don’t think my description will do it justices but she has been really sick for a month I guess it got really bad this past Friday so every single older person in the village with all these monks persist spend 24 hours a day at my host grandmamma house. Meanwhile the day that she died they take out her ivy which I told them not to bc she was going to be in pain but they were like no this will help her die I knew that was wrong. I also don’t think they moved her since the last time I was there so she just had a blood clot pooling in her forehead it was a bit much to see. Then in Cambodian culture you give money to family to help with the funeral when I went to give them money bc she was still alive they made me put the money in her hand which was also a bit much. I went back and from my house to my g-mamas house at one point im sitting down with a bunch of monks who are writing on a chalk board predicting the future I thought it was for the old lady talking to him but no it turns out they were trying to predict when my g-mama was going to die (the monk was wrong he said Monday but it was Sunday night at 10pm). Meanwhile there are rows of chairs lined up with people just sort of looking on like a show of someone about to die. I left for the last time bc I realized the likelihood that she was going to chock on her own fluids and die really slowly bc I asked if they were going to give her meds to put her to sleep and they were like no we don’t have any. That’s when I knew that’s was too much for me to handle and they were not getting the things I was asking them. Well in between my visits to the sideshow I go online to see if we could get in touch with Jenta my host sister living in Korea when cream of wheat guy calls me. I debated not answering it however the game plan was to see where he was I am pretty sure he is not in Cambodia now but not positive. He just went on and on about how he is looking at Chinese women online that he wants a new wife once again I debate how stupid can he be?!?! There is no way the us gov will let him have a foreign wife anyways he is doing this shit bc he was convinced with his big ego that jentee would miss him first but she is so over him that she thinks its funny how desperate he is. Then he brought up these annoying wedding pics to send them to my dad’s house I’ll get them when I am home but then he is like well I have other pics to ill give u as if he has creepy pics I dunno this guy has a few screws loose. The rest of my weekend was spent in class im taking a class on the impact of education in society its been interesting its has prompted me to read about America and education it’s called academically adrift im only on chapter 3 but its address the major gaps in higher education and labor market etc. well till next time peace out from the other side of the world!