Revisiting “Why Some Hmong Girls Do Not Date Hmong Boys”

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On April 30, 2014, I read 3 emails commenting on a blog post I wrote 2 years ago titled “Why Some Hmong Girls Do Not Date Hmong Boys.” The first one commented on how she was hesitant to read my post because she thought it was one to bash Hmong men only to find out that she appreciated my objectivity on the topic. To you, I thank you for not rushing to conclusion without reading the full article.

The second one was from a man in France stating that this particular post was absurd because of my generalization of Hmong men and that the reasons I stated were irrelevant and disappointing. I appreciate that this man was commenting on the article and not attacking the person.

The last one was very angry and abusive. This particular person’s argument was ad hominem; calling me names, cussing me out, and just being plain vulgar. Obviously, he did not read the full article or my comments thereafter. To you, I have some words of wisdom: In order to prove someone wrong, you do not go and act in accordance to what that person believes. When you behave like an immature uncivilized person, it just proves the point as to why some Hmong girls do not date Hmong boys.

After reading these emails, I thought, “Hmm… Something must be going on that I do not know about.” So, I logged into WP and what a wonderful sight! My stats shot up to 3k! I looked at where all this traffic was going and sure enough, it was going to “Why Some Hmong Girls Do Not Date Hmong Boys.”

It seems someone shared this particular post,  and it must’ve created some heated discussion, leading others to share it as well. By the next day, my stats jumped up to a whopping 8.5k. It was showing that thousands of people were sharing my blog entry all over Facebook.

More emails came in. Family and friends started sending me links of people’s comments on this topic. Many agreed with my observations. Many others disagreed. Some disagreed with a lot of anger (both women and men).

To be honest, I had forgotten exactly what I wrote, so when I read the comments about how I negatively stereotyped Hmong men or how I had no right to bash them, I went back to read my blog post. I could see how people would think I was bashing Hmong men, but wasn’t I clear that not all Hmong men are like so? Aib ya! Ua li cas es Hmoob es….

Anyway, I feel as if those who attacked me and/or disagreed with big emotions with what I wrote did not read my blog in its entirety. And if they did, they missed my point altogether.

The purpose of “Why Some Hmong Girls Do Not Date Hmong Boys” was to shed light on why some Hmong girls do not date Hmong boys. It was not a post to “bash” Hmong men as many believe so. I thought I was clear enough. Apparently not.

Prior to writing this article, I had been observing in my community and reading a lot of comments online about why some Hmong women have married their non-Hmong husbands or why some Hmong women refuse to date Hmong men. I have also observed the Hmong community ostracizing women who have made this choice. So, I thought, if I could try to explain, maybe the Hmong community would have a better understanding. Maybe it would generate conversation about this and maybe create change—even minor changes make some difference.

I was very clear to state that not all Hmong men are lazy bums and that not all Hmong families would treat their daughters-in-law horribly or work her to death. I was very clear that I was generalizing the negative stereotypes of Hmong men. However, many just read over it and made their assumptions.

And I will stress this to all of you who say, “Hmong men are not the only lazy ones! You can find that in almost any ethnic group.” Ding! Ding! Ding! You are correct! However, that is besides the point because even though you may feel that way. it’s not about you but about how these women feel about Hmong men. Like I said in my disclaimer, “the reason why I may only be referring to my culture is because this blog is about my experiences, my personal observations, and opinions on my culture.”

I am married to a Hmong man. When I first heard a Hmong woman tell me that Hmong men are lazy and uneducated, did I take offense? No. Because I knew that she was generalizing and it’s not true for all Hmong men. But that is not to say that I undermine the experiences she has had with Hmong men. They are true and she has experienced lazy Hmong men whose families expect her to be a super woman. And if she doesn’t want to be a part of that, then that is her choice. There is no right or wrong answer. To each their own whether I agree or disagree. And with that said, I still believe the validity in the reasons I explained as to why some Hmong girls do not date Hmong boys.

I never realized that an article I posted 2 years ago could still generate so much conversation. Ahh… the wonders of the world wide web. I love it! Anyway, keep on reading and conversing.

Asian American Heritage Month

MBRefugee

Hello everyone!

I am part of a team working on a project about our Hmong generation (relatively 17-30 years old) who were born in the refugee camps in Thailand and immigrated to the United States. We are collecting refugee photographs (like the one of Baby MB above).

This collection of photographs will be featured on Exhibit 75 for Asian American Heritage Month in May. If you are interested, please contact our team at exhibit75@gmail.com.

We would need the following:

1) Name
2) Age
3) Year that you came to the United States
4) Your refugee photo showing your registration number.
5) A current photo of you to show the difference from then and now.
6) A short narrative. It can be anything: a memory from the refugee camp, an experience in America, or something that you want to share.

It’s okay to take a photo of your photo like I have (refer to Baby MB) above.

Please keep in mind that by sending us a copy of your photos, you are giving us consent to post and share them on our website.

Website will be up shortly. If you have any questions, please ask away.

Thank you!
MB

A Hmong Wife’s Role

I came upon this scan of a Hmong text in a forum.  The original poster had stated that this reading material was used in a Hmong class at Washington Tech High School in Saint Paul, MN. It created great dislike within this group of Hmong women.

Ib tug niam tsev Hmoob lub luag hauj lwm.

Ib tug niam tsev Hmoob lub luag hauj lwm.

Translation:

A Hmong wife’s responsibility is to oversee everything in the home. She needs to make sure there are groceries (water, rice, veggies) and that the home is kept clean and there are plenty of pots and dishes.

A Hmong wife’s responsibility is to take care of the children. It is only for the duration of a month after she gives birth that her husband provides chicken (boiled chicken with herbs soup for postpartum care) for her. After the month is over, she would need to cook for herself and care for others in the home.

A Hmong wife needs to pack lunch for her husband to take to work. It has always been that the husband never packs lunch for the wife nor does he do her laundry because he “lost” money to marry his wife, and the husband has more honor than his wife. The wife needs to do everything for her husband that he desires and asks of her.

This is the first time I’ve read something that provides a guideline on how a Hmong wife should behave. Growing up, I’ve always heard others tell me how I needed to act to become the “ideal” Hmong wife and be the “perfect” Hmong daughter-in-law. When I tell other Hmong individuals my experience, some tell me that it’s not Hmong culture; it’s just my family or the people I am around with. Seeing this on paper, or on screen, validates that it is real. That it’s not just my family who believes a Hmong wife should behave this way.

While I read this, I thought, “Okay. This is doesn’t really work for all families today, but if it works for you, then go for it.” There are many stay-at-home moms who do embrace the role of being the nurturing wife and mother, who do not have an issue with following the traditional gender roles of a Hmong family structure. And I, myself, do care for the home, make sure my family is fed, and my children are well taken care of. Nothing wrong with that.

And then I got to the last paragraph.

I wonder who wrote this text to include that a man loses (yes, the term  this person used was “xiam” which translates “to lose” so don’t give me crap about how I’ve misconstrued the meaning of the text) his money when he marries his wife and because of that she needs to do everything he wants her to.

The discussion of the bride price has always been a controversial topic within the Hmong community (online and offline). Many understand how it perpetuates violence against Hmong women because it creates a setting where money is exchanged for a woman.

Others argue that it does not—that feminists are just making a big deal out of a harmless tradition that actually puts value on marriage and a woman. Despite the arguments, reality is many Hmong people (not all) do believe that because a man gave money to the bride’s family for her hand in marriage that she belongs to him, as stated in this reading material.

My question is, what was the purpose of this reading assignment? Was it to compare and contrast an old-world view and modern view of a Hmong wife? Or was it just to practice reading in Hmong? If it is the latter, then other reading materials would’ve sufficed.

So, what’s the big deal? It’s just a piece of reading paper!

It is reading material for high school students. Teachers need to be aware of what they’re teaching their students. I would not like it if my kids came home and told me that their teacher had them read about how to be a Hmong wife. And being a responsible parent, I would discuss with my children about the ideals of what was written in this reading assignment and how it may not relate to modern all Hmong women.

Even if parents teach and talk to their children about these things, is it still appropriate for a teacher to assign such reading materials? Does it make a difference if the teacher’s purpose was not just to read the text, but to discuss its contents and how students believe it does or does not relate to Hmong women today? It seems to me as if this is really outdated reading material. Just imagine how long this text has been circulating since publication and how many people it has influenced to believe that since a husband exchanged money for his wife, insinuating she is his property, she needs to do as he desires.