Feminism Vietnamese way


I have seen them in Ao Dai, on scooters.

I have seen them in Ao Dai, holding child, on scooters (perhaps on the way to childcare) before work.

I have seen them with child canvassing the street selling lottery tickets.

Perhaps I used to be that very child my teacher mom in Ao Dai used to carry.

I remember we had to get help. Live-in maids. Four adults in the family could not take care of a child.

Existential loneliness. Thay, nhay, chup (stand on the table, toss the ball, jump in mid air, and catch it while falling).

I repeated that drill so many times, it now stuck in my memory.

Then, luckily, I got a hold of my brother’s guitar.

So, from then on, me and the strings.

Back to feminism in Vietnam as I experienced it.

Vietnamese female went professional such as accountant (my sister), teacher (my mom) , pharmacist (my sister-in-law) and dentist (my niece), during the 60’s and due to war time.

They put in the hours, performed up to par.

Then came home. Another round of expectations: that of a housekeeper, to have home-cooked meals on the table and clean sheets in the bed (Vietnamese female version of Papa – keep those shoes on my feet).

Fast forward to the here and now.

Some took a short cut (yahoo news features a mug shot of a supposedly $2500 per night call girl). Others migrate overseas under pretense and pretext of marrying to foreigners.

I only know how my mom live her life.

From morning to mid-night, from the time I first saw her face until she  could no longer see mine.

I refer to her in another blog (Mom’s Ao Dai).

But I cannot help mentioning her again since I saw another mom-type, holding baby in arm, while riding the scooter, in Ao Dai (receptionist uniform at a Vung Tau resort).

Good luck to all the children without a helmet. Good luck to all those moms who struggle to raise a family in a very hot, flat and crowded city.

Good luck young and emerging female type who has to sort out which traditional ways to keep so as not to throw the baby out with the bath water (tradition vs modernity).

Everyone I spoke to agreed that here in Vietnam,it’s the women who actually run the show: power, money and happiness/well-being of  the children.

Betty Friedman would have been proud:here, they practice feminism without labeling it as so. Just do it. Lean-In. Thanks Mom.

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