I know many Hmong women who refuse to date, let alone marry a Hmong man. Is this normal? In my opinion, it’s as normal as someone choosing to only marry within their race or ethnicity. I’ve heard others criticize and patronize Hmong women who have made this choice (although there have been some progress, interracial/inter-ethnic relationships are still frowned upon within the Hmong community). Additionally, I have also heard those who agree with and support this life choice.
There is no right or wrong way on how someone lives their life, who they fall in love with, or who they choose to stay away from. Today’s blog will help you understand why some Hmong women do not date Hmong men.
HMONG CULTURAL EXPECTATIONS:
The expectations of a Hmong daughter—especially a Hmong nyab (daughter-in-law) is—in my opinion—the biggest factor as to why some Hmong women do not date even look at Hmong men. What are the expectations, you ask? Let’s see here…
Traditional Hmong families (I stress the word “traditional” here) expect females to follow and uphold the strict gender roles. An ideal Hmong woman is silent, passive, and obedient. She is expected to be Super Woman with 10 arms and legs to multitask efficiently 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without rest. It doesn’t matter if she has a full-time job and/or goes to school, her priorities are her parents-in-law and their needs. An educated Hmong woman who have dreams and aspirations for themselves may fear the demands of a traditional Hmong nyab. And to avoid husbands and in-laws who may not agree with their differing life goals, Hmong women may stay away from Hmong men. Additionally, when your parents have pounded to your head that your only duty as a Hmong female is to honor and serve your husband and in-laws, you may grow up resenting your culture and run the other way.
Mind you, some Hmong families are more progressive than others. Some have adopted the Western lifestyle completely or have started to give more leeway to a Hmong nyab. I feel as if during their journeys to seek those who will not confine them into a lifestyle of bearing children and domestic housework, many Hmong women forget that not all Hmong men—or families for that matter—are the same.
A woman may dream of marrying someone who will give financial stability, entertain intelligent conversations/debates, and be family-oriented, as well as independent. No one wants an unmotivated bum who sits in front of the television screen, playing COD all day, someone who jumps from job to job, or someone whose idea of a “good time” is drinking until passing out every night at a friend’s house (Yes, I know I am describing Hmong men stereotypes). So, how hard is it to find a Hmong man with the standards mentioned?
Statistics show that more and more Hmong women are exceeding Hmong men in graduating from high school and college. What does this mean? It means that the more educated a woman is, the more likely she will look for a life partner whose education is up to her level as well. There could be a lot of reasons for this: 1) someone with a higher education is more likely to have a stable job and a steady income; 2) He is a hardworking, goal-oriented person who values education; and 3) education equals higher intelligence and a more open mind; and lastly, someone with an education and a well-paying job is independent. Of course, not everyone who has a higher education may carry any of these attributes, but it is more likely.
It doesn’t help that we know so many Hmong men who fit the stereotypes I described above. It also doesn’t help that our Hmong culture enables domestic violence. It may also not help if we’ve been through a few crappy relationships with Hmong men. And from experiences and observations, Hmong women may start to believe that all Hmong men are the same and refuse to seek another Hmong relationship.
Generalizing: we do it all the time. We, as a society, have generalizations of the poor, the rich, the young, old, fat, skinny, etc. Many Hmong women may believe that all Hmong men are the same when in actuality, they’re not all the same. Get to know a Hmong man and you may find that he is different from what you had expected.