Vietnamese women are strong. I don’t say that because I am a Vietnamese woman. I say that when I look at my mom and the women in the village where I grew up. They wake up early every morning, go to the rice fields, turning their backs to the sky, until the sun goes down. Then they go back home and start cooking and taking care of their children. To be honest, I do not know how they can have time to enjoy their lives by living that way.
However, saying Vietnamese women are strong does not mean that I always laud them. There is one thing that is always a recondite thing to me: why do Vietnamese women seem to not want equal rights with men even though they probably can get it?
Vietnamese women are accustomed to an inveterate ideology: men are providers. Vietnamese people have an idiom: “Phụ nữ hơn nhau ở tấm chồng” which means that the standard of comparison between two women is their husbands. To date, although many Vietnamese women get jobs, get paid, they still want their husbands to be providers.
5 years ago, I worked as a journalist covering life stories of Vietnamese celebrities. A neophyte model named Ngoc Trinh told my co-worker during an interview that she would not get married to a man who is not rich. She became famous after that and many Vietnamese women agreed with her point. Of course, there is nothing wrong with the wish of getting married to a rich man. However, if women just look for rich men to get married to, then, they accept that men are providers. Many Vietnamese men made fun of Ngoc Trinh, and because of her, Vietnamese men had a chance to consolidate their belief that men have a right to flout women.
Most old college friends of mine are already married. Perhaps, I am the only single one. A friend kidded that maybe when her daughter gets married, I will still be alone. My friend seems happy. She enjoys her low-paying job and has a husband who can make 7 times her salary. However, every time I look at her husband, my interest in marriage is snuffed out. I wonder how my friend can live with a husband who always returns home drunk at midnight and asks his wife to serve him regardless of how stinking he is. Is it true that money can buy “love”?
Accepting that men are providers drives Vietnamese women to a belief that they need a man whether or not they love him. And because of that, many women believe that it is right to have “a cat fight” with someone whom their husbands have an adulterous relationship with.
One year ago, a big scandal happened to a Vietnamese singer called Ho Ngoc Ha. She was considered the most popular singer in Vietnam. She got married to a rich businessman with the nickname “Cuong USD” (the man of USD). For some reason, Ha separated from her husband. She then had a relationship with another rich man who was nicknamed “Diamond man”. The Diamond man was also separated from his wife and about to divorce her to be with Ho Ngoc Ha.
Unfortunately, his wife refused to get divorced. She then wrote on Facebook a tirade saying that Ho Ngoc Ha “stole” her husband. Instead of questioning why a woman did not want to divorce her husband although she knew that her husband no longer loved her, people immediately turned to vituperate Ho Ngoc Ha. They believe that the third one is the reason a family breaks up. They created an anti-Ho Ngoc Ha group and it quickly attracted thousands of married women. They also called on people to boycott all products that Ho Ngoc Ha represented. For the very first time, many brands in Vietnam were aware of the puissance of women.
I wrote an article saying that women should not go for a “cat fight”, which is despicable and helps prove that Vietnamese women need men to survive. Instead, they need to stay together to protect women and focus on their jobs to show men that women are good without men. Many admonished me and said that I am young so I do not penetrate their situations.
Vietnamese women, are very strong and can sacrifice their lives to take care of their husbands and children. However, they are reluctant to divorce men even if those men do not respect them. They are always proud that they are kind enough to tolerate a husband no matter how bad he is. But they are not magnanimous enough to forgive a woman.