khmer massage comes down to be a bad idea during ovulation

A massage is only supposed to be bad if your to be sick, if you have a fever or about to have one. I have heard no other recommendation then that. Though, here’s one of my own – non scientific and highly personal. Do not go for a khmer massage during the peak of your ovulation!

Let me exaplain the two bodily conditions. Ovulation refers to when one or two (sometimes more) eggs have matured in the ovaries and are redy for making its journey towards the uterus. This happens, give or take a few days depending on your personal cycle, about two weeks before the first day of menstuation/period. Some may not notice they are ovulating and some feel less or more during this time in different ways. Besides my urge to fuck, I have some cramps and pain at the ovarie(s) during one or two days during this days. Khmer massage refers to the technique of massage performed in Cambodia which is both about adding circulating moves with the hands (and sometimes feet) to the muscules, but also streching out joints and muscle attachments and last but not least pressing a cosiderbly large amount of preassure with the massagers body weight onto muscles, back and spine. Lower back is often overexposed to this heavy pressing method.

So, as a result my former tensed neck and back was now is perfect relaxed condition, but my overies went bananas over this chock treatment and tried to escape its way out of the body – well that’s how it felt for a day before they settle down and continued its ovulation process.

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in transit

I read in a travellers forum that Qatar Airways (that I am flying with) has one of the worst working conditions for flight attendees. Shame I think, passing by the 20 or so oil riggs’ burning flames before reaching the airport for landing. I read in a book about gender and migration that Qatar’s immigrant workforce consist of poorly paid Philippines and Bengalis, all the people I have meet so far in Qatar, from customs, to cafe servant to tax free salesperson have more or less likely been from that region.

I’m in transit, I spend time between flights currently in Doha. There is something very peculiar and interesting about airports in general, but being in transit in particular. I am in a country which I am not visiting, I’m here but not there. Airports looks often quite much like one another, despite of there in the world you are – at least if you are fling international. I just talked to my girls back home on Skype, I show Shirin around with the help of my camera the location of where I am seated and she bursts out that she’s been there, she recognise herself – she has not been there, but it might feel similar to the places she has been. My curiosity gets an overdose at these kind of places, watching all people can’t keep but wondering where are they from, where are they going, whom are they traveling with, what food did they eat on the plane, are they scared of flying, why are they traveling, will I be seeing them another time? I allow myself to fantasise, but with a careful and curious manuscript where prejudges aren’t the main characters. I am in trans, not only that my body is somewhat tired of the change of altitude, but also in trans of this made-up stories of people in this country I am within but yet not in.

Transit, there are ways in which this expression or word allows for playfulness, aspects that concerns materiality, emotionality, and normativity that comes to a life in ways which are not always as it seems to be. Queer and feminist scholars have long shown the dramaturgy of being in trans that denotes other then being in between (e.g. genders). Either way, however one define it, it holds a instability worthy if its name, a playfulness which for some is a cause of stress or anxiety. This playfulness and anxiety reminds me of my own search, or shall I say, re-definition of my own sexuality. A state of mind influenced by a feeling of being both in heterosexuality and outside, of being in it and yet not. Of using imagination and made-up stores of other peoples lives to colourful being able to paint my own. Trans-it, make something else of your being, can I take it as an invitation and a challenge to explore something to be-come in a state of playful instability?

There are hordes of white people gathering below the land-line phone booths, they can charge their iPhones and such there as well. Blond, tanned girls says the coffee at Costa (coffee chain) is too expensive. Beside them are the canteen, where the coffee costs a quarter to Costas, crowded with all sorts of people. A couple of tables with the burgundy coloured Qatar uniformed flight staff burst into laughs and cries as they seems to enjoy each others company, or at least the conversation.

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Phnom Penh – 19th February to 12th March

Between the 19th of February to 12th of March I will be returning to Phnom Penh to do my reserach for my master thesis in Gender Studies. I will do a follow-up study from my bachelor thesis “A Strive for Love, Respect and Not Too Sexy Clothes: A Study on Young Women’s Agency on Gendered and Sexual Norms in Urban Cambodia”. This time I will focus on married women, and how life and positions change when becoming married, I am concerned with aspect related to gender, relations and sexuality. If you have any interest in participating in this research or want to contact me for any other reason related to my area of research, you are welcome to email me at – see you soon!

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Love birds

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Valentine check in, virginity check out

Valentines Day has rose as the rose among youth in Cambodia. When most affections of love are safeguarded far away from public spaces, this imported loving day opens up for public and almost obligatory stories and affections of love in Cambodia (and elsewhere) among youth. What begun as sweet and innocent roses and text messages has in recent years turn into the day for young couples (not yet married) to have sex, checking into guest houses to indulge in intimacy and privacy. And to lose virginity*, frankly speaking, most mean that women have penetrating sex with a man for the first time. . So, its not all youth who is main actor in the story of The Valentine and the Virgin that Phnom Penh post writes about. The men, the boyfriends, are rarely subjected to this story of loss since their sexuality, or their virginity, is not sacred to their identity and not neither to their first (sexual) love. Sure, my critique may fall hard here. But boys and mens sexuality in Cambodia are subjects to entirely different norms and expectations then women’s.

In the article the voices of the supposed virgins themselves are non-existing. An ANZ costumer service consultant says that  “girls might regret making a decision too soon”. Again, the girls might regret it, but hey, they also might enjoy the sex, or they might feel forced to do it, or just curious about what its all about. Seeking and exploring ones own sexuality, or maybe just to get a sneak peak at the boy. More relevant concerns, then the one above states, would be if and how they enjoy sex; are they practicing safer sex; what are their feelings and concerns before and after; is the sex (and the relationship as a whole) based on mutual respect and a feeling of “good” rather then “shame” (which is produced if the statement above are to dictate the concerns and discussion)?

The nations protection of women’s sexuality take many shapes, the battle of protecting girls virginity has lead to a new law (trying to) regulate valentines emerging promiscuity.  “In response to the popularity of guest house discounts on Valentine’s Day, the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Tourism set a regulatory law stating that Cambodian citizens under the age of 18 are not allowed to rent any rooms without the permission of an adult.”. Oh my buddha, is my soley response at this stage. Maybe the ministry of Health and Women’s Issues set a different law and load the guest houses with an endless supply of condom, lubricant and some flyers about respectful relations and sexuality?! Sadly I don’t think they will. I would though!

*Beside this conversation there should be another which talk about virginity and sexual (and love) relations beyond a penetrative and heterosexual one. Sex is not only about “putting something into something” but of so much more. The (first) sexual experience between men, between women, between men and women, between men/women and transgender are more interesting if we see beyond penetration. Sex is about so much more, about touching the whole body in a sexual way, feeling with hands and other parts of out body, about orgasms, about kisses, about tingling feelings, about arousal, about good feelings and about respect. Then, sex, and especially the first time, is not a matter of loss and loosing (virginity) but of gaining pleasures, exiting experiences and good feelings.

Fear no valentine, for what I am concerned, it could be valentine every day. Our concern here should be more directed onto the conditions and expectations of sex and sexuality within society. But “virginity”… it could check out and come back no more!



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L for love and lesbian

A tip of an article worth reading, too short though. I want to read more, know more. These voices shows that love can be made in many ways, and that sexuality don’t always have to be linked to an homosexual identity. A teaser for more, maybe it is within this subject I will write my master thesis?!

“Being a lesbian is not my personal wish, but it comes naturally,” Nhen Sombo said. Now aged 31, Nhen Sombo realised she was a lesbian back when she was a child and knew it was something she couldn’t change about herself.


Ms Sothearoth, 22, a university student, said that although she identifies with being a lesbian, she’s not sure if it’s biological or not. Her decision to love other females was prompted by the pain of growing up with a physically and emotionally abusive father, who eventually abandoned her family.


“Honestly, I would rather be a lesbian, even though I don’t think I am, than dare to love a man.”


From the article Lesbian love comes to surface, Phnom Penh Post, december 28 2011.


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Sleepwalking through the Mekong

Dengue Fever needs to be listened to, and the documentary Sleepwalking through the Mekong needs to be watched – and that’s just it. More coming up later on!

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Lost Goddesses: The Denial of Female Power in Cambodian History

Lost Goddesses: the denial of female power in Cambodian history by Trudy Jacobsen is by far one of the most important books written on Khmer history and of its women, and a book which have been of great help and inspiration in my own understanding of the Khmer history before the pol-pot regime. It is also a book of ethnography and reflections, a beautiful and personal insights in women’s lives and thoughts on being a woman and to all those norms and expectations in which women and young girls need to fulfill or at least relate to. She ask some big but vital questions and contextualises those into historical particularities and in the voices of Khmer women.

“… in recent years certain Cambodian politicians have made remarks about returning to ‘traditional values’. The context of these comments seems to imply a patriarchal society, although Cambodian women are alleged to have enjoyed a high level of autonomy and independence in the distant past. Most Cambodian have little idea of gender relations prior the the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, believing that male pre-eminence has always been a facet of Cambodian society. In reality, it seems that there have always been greater differences between social classes the between men and women within those classes. ‘Traditional social values’ as a phrase must therefore be used carefully. When does tradition begin? And what ‘power’ are we talking about anyway?” (p. 4)

Buy it!

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Breakfasts’ leftovers

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Exploited for sex; neither a prostitute or a sex worker?!

I often call for a more diverse discussion upon the notion prostitution and/or sex work that usually are talked about in two camps of which of you are either for a notion and acceptance for prostitution or sex work. Explained as both a dichotomy and a synonym.  But is it that simple? Can you be either for or against any of them? Don’t they all come with sides that are problematic in one sense or another whether its who has the power to talk on behalf of others; who is a victim and who is a sexually deliberated individual; morally; religiously; universally; when constituting laws; who are we talking about, and  in what way? Is it that black and white, that easy, to say either prostitution or sex work in policy making or in any kind of discussion? How should this then be drew upon transnationally, locally or more precise phrased – glocally?

Here, I want to urge for the discussion on the diversity in the notion prostitution/sex work, to stress a discussion upon all the gray area in between and around to both expand and problematize. To acknowledge that people, especially women, do get abused, used and exploited for sexual purposes does not mean that one deny that sex for money (or comparable) could be a matter of sexuality, a sexual preference, or a kind of work. But some stories, some experiences, can’t be explained with either one of them.

Thuesday the 22 of November 2011 Phom Penh Post published the article Girl allegedly drugged, forced into prostitution which writes

A husband and wife were arrested by Kampong Cham provincial police on Sunday over allegations that they drugged an 18-year-old woman and forced her into prostitution for their financial gain, police said yesterday. /… /

“The suspects forced the victim to use drugs until she lost consciousness, then they forced her to have sex with men so they could earn money,” Eang Vanny said.

“The suspects did not give the money [from the customers] to the victim. /… /

The young woman was the girlfriend of the adoptive brother of the husband who, along with his wife, had allegedly drugged her and forced her into sex work, police said.

This women, who is a victim of many crimes, is talk as both forced into “prostitution” and ” sex work”. Why use both, or any of them? And why put her clearly exploited body in the same sentence as those who in some sense actually work (get paid) in sex selling services. I do know that the Cambodian development movement have in the past years used “sex work” rather then “prostitution” (probably due to strong international and transnational political ideas in eg the UN and other transnational advocacy movements), but for this journalist to use both (and maybe any of them) is in it self a abuse; not only of this woman, but also of all other who cannot be defined with this very context. They could write it out more clearly; she was forces into having sex – she was raped, for money! Rape and sexual violence commonly occur in prostitution, sex work and all that indefinable around. But this is not prostitution, nor sex work. Maybe, at the least she identified to that indefinable around, that diversity and that gray area around. But it still doesn’t change the context in which this women were exploited, used and abused in a sense that no one ever should have to experience.

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