This week the student presentation was centered on the theme of gender and sexuality. The three presenters specifically focused on Iu-Mein women and their ability to overcome adversity within their community. Each presenter did exceptionally in explaining key elements of the paper ranging from the history of Iu-Mien, description the study, and report of the study’s findings. The PowerPoint slides were well organized and efficient in relying information. The paper chosen was intriguing as I learned many new things such as the factors which contribute and impact resilience within the Iu-Mien community. I also learned much about this ethnic population and their refugee experience.
Unfortunately, I feel as though the presentation failed to use the study as a platform to further analysis of the paper and/or for broader themes within the Southeast Asian community with regards to gender and sexuality. The presentation seemed to only explain and summarize the information already provided from the reading. It would have been a far more insightful presentation had the group discussed critiques of the study from their perspective as Southeast Asians, as women, and as scholars. The analysis of the findings under distinct viewpoints would have helped in understanding the implications, strengthens, and weaknesses of the study. Additionally, it could have been used as a framework to explain other experiences seen throughout Southeast Asian women. In interesting sub-topic to discuss would be the reaction of Iu-Mien men to women’s alleged resiliency. To their perspective, are these women behaving “resilient” or does it reflect a broader cultural expectation?
The professor’s perspective on “normalized suffering” added an interesting element to the discussion of this paper. Because the author categorizes the action of Iu-Mein Women, their sufferings are made normalized and are then classified as inherently “victims” as are other Southeast Asian women and women across cultures. Additionally, the film shown in class added to the content of the presentation. It was extremely fascinating to see the life of a young Mien family and highlight on the common struggles that women face when racing children in dealing with their own identities, autonomy, family and culture. It was a great look at the challenges second generational Iu-Mien women may face as the study focused primarily on the first generation Iu-Mien.
I truly enjoyed having this topic discussed as often times such identities are ignored and marginalized in society. The intersection of Southeast Asians to gender and sexuality are even more rarely discussed. I wish that the student presenters had provided a space for open discussion so that students in the class could share opinions and stories relating to the topic. As gender was discussed during the presentation, the theme of sexualities was ignored. Although I prefer having fewer readings, it would have been useful to have had another article so to present on sexualities in Southeast Asian communities.