Tuesday, February 23, 2010


One thing I really dislike about Vietnam is the blatant sexism. Sure sexism exists in the United States too but nowhere near the extent that it does here. I've commented in the past how I've gotten annoyed when my female students have told me that women can never be ___ (fill in the blank with a high position in business or government).

At Huyen's house, sexism is always present. Men have their roles and women have their roles (Foreigners have their roles too -- sitting upstairs doing work and not bothering customers). One thing I really hate though is that whenever we sit down to a meal, only the men cheers their glasses. During Tet we cheers for a "Happy New Year" and the rest of the year we cheers "To Your Health." I mean, why can't the women participate in this? It really just makes me uncomfortable as if it is only important for the men to have a good year and good health. Whenever a woman happens to have a drink in front of her, I try and make a point to tap her glass too. This usually gets giggles from the woman whose glass I've clinked.

In Hanoi this is not always the case like it is in the countryside. When groups of friends get together, boys and girls all drink and cheers one another. With family it seems to be another story.

I'm not trying to sound like a moralist but, well, actually I am trying to sound like one. I feel like someone from the future who has traveled back fifty years and can't believe how stupid some things are.*

* This is also how I imagine a present day person would feel if they were to travel back to America during slavery or for that matter, how a future American would feel were he able to travel back to the present time and listen to the gay marriage debate.