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The Status of Khmer Women

Updated on February 21, 2012

Sovereign, classic, sincere, superior, and elegant I was made to be as a Khmer lady; a requirement. Raised traditionally by a family whose very old school; moral which is taught and use every day; no excuse. Reputation and dignity is in the hand of a young lady; must remain virtuous to uphold the image of her family. From here I bow to you; my greetings...

Khmer women are compared to white cotton wools and Khmer men are compared to gems. My parent say, "when white cottons are muddied, it cannot ever be white or hold the same purity it once was again. Gems on the other hand could be washed and become more brighter." Therefore it is the woman RESPONSIBILITY to uphold her self image and family.

Her roles and behaviors greatly place a huge affect on the status of her mother, father, husband, and children. When image is lost or face is lost, her family reputation will be criticized. She is required to speak softly, walk lightly, be well-mannered at all time, stay in her home, and serve as a caretaker of her family.

Here are some expectation and roles every Khmer woman must know; useful for men as well:

Table of manners:


- Fairly formal
- oldest usually seated first
- Eldest person start to eat before the others
-When invited to a dining table, wait to be told where to sit
- Do not begin eating until the eldest person start
-Never be part of a discussion unless you are told

Gift from visitor or visiting:


- Gift are wrapped in colorful paper
- If invited to someone's home for food, take fruit, sweets, pastries or flowers.
- When giving gift use both hands and kneel
- Gifts are not open when received, gifts are open after visitor leaves

Meeting and greeting:


- Traditional greeting is bowing
- Respect must always be shown to the most senior person
- Use honorific titles when addressing people


In America today society, many Khmer-American woman has become more westernized and the roles of their duty is no longer used. But for most family they still enforce this such as my family for instant. My parent and grandparent strictly enforce this and still use it today. Khmer woman must know how to cook and know all the house keeping duties before she gets married. Grandma says, "if a Khmer woman do not know how to cook, keeping her house clean, or knows her duties, she will NOT become a good wife or a mother!" Westerner might not agree but in Cambodia, is true.


I must know how to cook, greet, speak, clean, and every other little things that my parent think it is very important for me to learn before I get married. Most importantly, they do not want to lose their face. Reputation is highly important because it is a combination of honour and dignity to uphold the family face.

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Fascinating! thank you for educating me with this wonderful hub!

    • profile image

      Ghaelach 5 years ago

      Morning Chanroth.

      Nice hub.

      Traditions are something to keep and hold on to.

      The problem is when a person moves to another country they have to adapt themselves to the land they intend to stay in.

      Inside their new home or community it is good to see their culture living on, but not to influence their new neighbours with their traditions.

      An old saying :- "When in Rome, do as the Romans do"

      Take care Chanroth.

      LOL Ghaelach

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and interesting. Thanks for sharing never knew this.

    • chanroth profile image
      Author

      chanroth 5 years ago from California, USA

      Good morning Billy, Ghaelach and Gypsy, thank you very much!

      @Ghaelach, I totally understand what your saying! This tradition is held upon my family and Khmer community only...I don't use this to impress my neighbor. There are two life that I have to live and try to balance everyday...Khmer tradition and western. And I know in fact that I'm not alone. When I stay with my parent...everything was traditional...though when I'm out of that door...I am an American which I feel that I can breathe again. I wrote this hub just to share some of my tradition, culture...roles and its expectation...^_^

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank-you for introducing us to the customs. Interesting!

    • chanroth profile image
      Author

      chanroth 5 years ago from California, USA

      Hello Christy, thank you!

    • raciniwa profile image

      raciniwa 5 years ago from Naga City, Cebu

      it's a great reminder for the Khmer women and of all the women too...great hub Chanroth...

    • chanroth profile image
      Author

      chanroth 5 years ago from California, USA

      Hi raciniwa, thank you! Yes it is a great reminder for all khmer women along with other women. Thank you! ^_^

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