Archive for ‘Gender’

February 5, 2009

The Wealth of One Girl

So my Daddy told me that bride fees were supposed to be like…a gesture of good will from the family of the groom to the family of the bride not only for taking care of all the expenses of the wedding and getting the newlywed couple on their feet with rugs and blankets, food, and etcetera, but also as a gesture of: we are honored by your allowance of letting your daughter to enter our familial folds. We promise to take good care of her, and here is the proof we will [exchange of currency occurs].

But as culture and human ambition, practice and customs have evolved, so have the implicit, underlying reasons for such social processes. And now…although I may be wrong and too harsh: bride fees are merely a sign of how much a girl is worth. A price to be haggled over, the daughter is now bargained over like a piece of property, some smelted flesh. No longer is she priceless, but of a set value that her beloved’s own may not be willing to budge upon.

The General–more on him later–a few years back set a “cap” on bride fees. Something like five G’s. A friend of mine was appalled. She thought–no she knew she was worth more than that. I wrinkled my nose and furrowed my brow: why perpetuate the custom at all? I’m tired of the objectification of women–in general too. Our subjugation to the man must end some time. Can I pay a fee to get rid of you? Buy myself out of this inequality because I’m not so sure I’d pay any price to have you anyways either…LOL. Just kidding.

But seriously: What do you think? Is this an archaic notion that needs to be eradicated if not reformed? Or are we moving towards some end–bride shops–that I’m not aware of…

FYI: Please don’t try to tell me we must adhere because it is “cultural”. Culture changes, it evolves, it is dynamic, and it is not the boss of me–especially if it asked me to kill my first born or jump off a cliff before my 50th birthday because wrinkles were a major catastrophe waiting to swallow me, my marital potential and ovaries whole.

BTW: Neither of the last couple of comments/ultimatums have any relation to Hmong culture…I just made them up to be overly dramatic and to drive in the point of ridiculously adhering–blindly ascribing to “cultural” establishments.

Controversially Congenial Lilian ;]

February 4, 2009

Conundrum of Gender & Education

So I must admit that as a Stanford student and a Hmong female, I am constantly bombarded with such questions: “How do you do it? What advice do you have for other Hmong females who aspire to more than just hearth and home or early marriage and 10 kids before 30?” (as if Hmong females don’t already dominate and succeed in the area of education over Hmong males. I’m not trying to get into a conversation about who gets paid more, better jobs or whatnot, but just general representation, educational attainment and participation of Hmong in institutions of higher learning.)

No offense guys, dudes, padre, but I think the numbers, our numbers speak for themselves and that all this question does (early apology for being an anthropology major and having just finished Bordieu’s Masculine Domination) is reinforce archaic denotations of gender divisions–which we admittedly all still participate in reproducing. But why isn’t this question asked as pointedly of Hmong males? Where are they in the ranks of academia? There are currently only two Hmong males at Stanford compared to six Hmong females and for the whole of our history that I am aware, Hmong females have been doin’ a majority of the representin’ at Stanford. Although that is not to say that there were not moments (i.e. the Class of 2008 ) where there were more boys than girls in attendance. :] But general trends…

What’s your take on this question? Should we keep asking of our girls, perpetuating the idea that they have more to overcome, have still a long way to go? I acknowledge the social context in which the question emerged but are we not ready to move past it? It’s a weapon of the weak. Why cling to it.

Also, I worry we are doing our boys a disservice with the question. This is a double edged sword, the question always being posed in a one way direction towards females who have pulled themselves up by the bootstraps (and are doing well), while we fail to notice the sinking ship of boys being sucked off into a vortex that is not institutions of higher education in a society increasingly invested in such notions as denotations of power and wealth.

We girls know where we’re at: UC colleges, State school with our BA’s, Stanford. But where them boys at?

–Lilian Thaoxaochay