I embarrassed myself this weekend by thinking that a Hmong woman my age speaks English (I’m 24). I casually told her, “Dear Spouse is working today, so we have to leave early. I’m just packing some food to go.” Her blank look said it all: she didn’t understand a word I said. The older woman (around 40 years old) behind me replied, “Sure. Go right ahead.”
On our way home, I asked Dear Spouse about the young woman. He said that she came to the US a couple of years ago to marry and probably didn’t speak English. Hmmm…. When with Hmong people, do as the Hmong people do, and speak Hmong.
Many Hmong men marry wives from overseas (mainly Thailand and Laos). It’s not really mail-ordered brides because the Hmong men actually go overseas and search for a wife (usually 10-20+ years their junior). Sometimes relatives will suggest a girl/woman for the man if they see that she is fit to be his wife.
Why would a man marry a Hmong girl from overseas? That, I believe, is the question everyone asks a whole lot. I know I do. Come on! The educated Hmong women in the great U.S. of A aren’t good enough for them?
Two main reasons why Hmong men go overseas to marry: (1) They have baggage (i.e; they are divorced, they are a widower, they have children, they are “old maids.” (2) They want the “perfect” obedient wife.
First reason: They have baggage. Hmong men will fly overseas when they feel they are left with no options. They can’t find a wife here because they feel that they need someone who can take care of their young children, take care of their aging self, and take care of their home. Who would want to marry someone who is growing old and with children? They can’t marry a bachelorette because why would a single woman want to marry a man who is either divorced or a widower and with children? And they can’t marry a woman who is divorced or a widow either. That woman also has baggage that they don’t want to care for.
Second reason: They want the “perfect” wife. Yes, even though America is great. Even though the Hmong came to America to escape from oppression, America still corrupts the Hmong females. Hmong women get educated. Hmong women get liberated. Hmong women become independent. Hmong women value work and education more than domestic work. Hmong women have fun. Most importantly, Hmong women in America have the ability to think for themselves and will not get married just put their lives on hold to serve their husbands. Yes, America the Great has corrupted our Hmong women, making all the available Hmong women ineligible for marriage to these great Hmong bachelors.
So, with this in mind, Hmong parents tell their sons to fly overseas and marry “innocent” girls from Thailand or Laos so that the new brides can help their sons with their lives. The new brides know nothing about America, can’t speak English, don’t have friends. It is a perfect way to control. But what happens when America starts to influence them? What happens when they learn English, make friends, etc?
I know it’s biased of me to think that Hmong men who marry girls from overseas are just doing it for control. But that’s what one would think when there are so many available women in America.