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As Ledgerwood explores, Khmer women's roles and their behavior greatly affect the status of their husbands, sons, and fathers.
The ranking of a man within society has a direct correlation to the image projected by the women in his life.
Through stories about Srey Kroup Leakhnak, the virtuous woman who upholds the family name, Khmer women and men are trained for their social roles within Cambodian society.
But after twenty years of war, genocide and suffering and now resettlement in America, both Khmer society and its people find it harder to live up to the old ideas of what they have always defined as Khmer.
With the redefining of social roles in the Khmer community, Cambodians face complicated challenges in adjusting to the mainstream culture of America.
Many continue to carry their painful memories throughout their daily lives.As a young woman, a Khmer woman must be a virgin before she marries and be faithful to her husband after marriage, even though he is allowed to have extramarital affairs.But if a wife is virtuous, he will not need to look elsewhere for happiness.Doctors discovered that although their eyesight appeared normal, their minds had willed themselves blind. Gretchen Van Boemel of the Doheny Eye Institute in Los Angeles, tracked a consistent pattern of visual history. Yet another witnessed the Khmer Rouge cutting the throat of her parents.Each one of the women had experienced and seen a family member murdered during the genocide. And another saw her husband killed and was ordered not to cry.