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Cultural Politics of Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Asia$
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Tiantian Zheng

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824852962

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824852962.001.0001

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Media, Sex, and the Self in Cambodia

Media, Sex, and the Self in Cambodia

(p.171) Chapter Ten Media, Sex, and the Self in Cambodia
Cultural Politics of Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Asia

Heidi Hoefinger

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter explores the tensions and intersections between sex and intimacy, media and consumption and the precarity of female individualization in Cambodia. With a focus on ‘professional girlfriends’ and women employed in the western-oriented hostess bar scene, Hoefinger illustrates how sex and intimacy are used as a means to consume material goods, and how desires for consumption and individualization are heavily influenced by media and globalization. Due to the collectivist nature of Cambodian culture, however, this growing emphasis on autonomy creates a new arena of anxiety for the women, who are left negotiating both the liberatory and constricting forces of globalization and neoliberal capitalism. Hoefinger concludes that despite experiencing constant contradictions around individualization, and relentless stigma for the decisions they make, the women transgress the boundaries of respectability, challenge gendered double standards, and reconcile individualism and collectivity through subactivism, and by becoming proud patrons and providers for their families.

Keywords:   Professional girlfriends, hostess bars, sex, entertainment work, consumer culture, neoliberalism, media, globalization, individualization, Cambodia

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