Quotable | Recounting the Fall of Matriarchy in Cambodia | Lessons for America

Senior writer Kounila Keo tells of the recounts the fall of matriarchy in Cambodia and calls on women to right the situation. Writing for The Constructive Cambodian, Keo is focused on how to meet UN Millenium goals in her country.

But this quote about America’s “founding fathers” caught my sensual rebel eye:

Unlike America, for example, and its “founding fathers,” a precedent is already in place for female leadership in Cambodia. Queen Lieu Ye, the country’s original monarch, who ruled over a group of Khmer tribes, is known to have formed the Kingdom called Funan, or Nokor Phnom, setting a standard for women as premieres, not only in the family, but in society as a whole.   

In the memory of Queen Lieu Ye’s matriarchy, the word mae (mother) continues to connote the honour of the female-being and, more importantly, traits of ‘greatness, leadership, or of being the essential element’. For example, you still have gender neutral words such as mae-torp (military commander), mae-khum (chief of commune), referring to anyone who holds these positions of power.

It is also worth noting that Cambodians address their parents and grandparents with the female first; “mother and father,” for example, or “grandmother and grandfather.”

Reading this quote, I recalled ‘Only Cowgirls Run for Office’, written by Rebecca Traister on Jan. 21, 2011.

America has no tales of Amazons or of Atalanta; our national narrative does not chronicle the defeat of an armada by a virgin queen nor a teenage Joan leading her army into battle. American history includes no Cleopatras or Hatshepsuts; no Trung Sisters, who defended Vietnam from the Chinese in the first century; and no Catherines, great or otherwise. The mythos of our founding revolves entirely around fathers, save for the seamstress Betsy Ross and the querulous spouse Abigail Adams.

Barbara Stanwyck as Annie Oakley, 1935. via Everett Collection

Barbara Stanwyck as Annie Oakley, 1935. via Everett Collection

Abigail Adams begged her husband John to “remember the women”, when the Founding Fathers were drafting the Constitution. Alas, no rights for America’s women were written into the Constitution. Like slaves, Indians and animals, women followed the marching orders of the Founding Fathers, which put men in charge of everything.

Rebecca Traister argues that any woman wanting to run for office must have a ‘cowgirl spirit’ because Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane are the only icons of female power and influence in America’s entire history .

What a crime!