As with the rise of feminism and women rights around the world, I am also hoping for improvement of the fate of women in my own country. I come from a culture where men are the head of the household. Even in my long line of family history shows a bias towards the men in our household.
In traditional Vietnamese culture, women are expected to do all household work, take care of children, and manage the ins and outs of the family activities and financials. Men are expected to bring home the money to support the family.
Ideally, if everything is fair in the amount of labor, then it works out.
I’ve been personally acquainted many families where the husbands abuse their wives. They come home drunk after a long night out with friends, treat their wives like dirt, abuse them at every mistake they make. Women who only give birth to girls are shunned by society, since they are not able to carry on the “family name.” Women then have to accept that their husbands will find another wife to carry a son.
It is forgivable when a husband goes out and finds a mistress, but for a wife to do so would be abominable. In youth, she must listen to her father, in adulthood, she must obey her husband, and in old age, she must listen to her grandson. Heritage is distributed first to the sons of the family, no matter how young they may be.
For a long time, I had a deep resentment for male dominance and female submissive character traits. I’ve struggled with the same question in my head. Why would anyone stay with someone who abuses them? Mentally or physically, abuse is abuse, right?
This is not to say that it is the case for all families. I’ve met some very respectable Vietnamese men as well. Despite the conservative mindset that is ingrained from culture and history, they treat their wives with love and respect to be admired. Like all human rights issues in the world, the people have to know there is an alternative possibility. An opportunity to live a better, more deserved life.
I’m fortunate enough that my parents had given me the support to rise up, get education, and fulfill my dreams. I’ve been raised to learn that women can do anything just as good and better.
I certainly won’t let anyone take that power away.