Gender and Sexuality
Despite taking this class, I am still confused about the various other peoples of South East Asia. I am a little bit ashamed to admit that I still have trouble distinguishing between Laos, Hmong, Cambodia, and Mien people. The article for this week discussed the latter, the Iu-Mien. Specifically, this article discussed the Mien women and their own issues with overcoming struggles. Regarding the article itself, I found that it lacked appeal for me to continue reading past the first page or two. My critique is in the sample the author used, she only interviewed ten or so women for her article. This is problematic in that the article seems to address Mien women as a whole. Can ten women represent a whole ethnic group? It seems farfetched. Despite this, the article is still worthwhile to read considering that the author herself is Mien and is extracting perhaps from her own experiences. Since she is Mien herself, her experiences cannot be discredited.
Because I have taken a class with Professor Valverde before this one, I have been well-versed in the concept of “Normalized Suffering”, which this article seems to highlight for Mien women. I know now that normalized suffering affects all women in South East Asia, and perhaps it can be argued that it affects women in other continents too! It saddens me to learn more about the Mien and Hmong people. As a Vietnamese-American, I always thought that the Vietnamese had it really bad. I can say now however, that ever since taking more ASA classes at Davis I have realized how much worse the Mien and Hmong and Cambodians have it than we (Vietnamese) do.
The movie Kelly Loves Tony sort of highlighted the struggles that other South East Asian communities may face here in America. While my own family’s story and struggle is markedly different from these Mien adults (Kelly and Tony), I could see how the political processes had led the Mien community to poverty the way it did for Kelly and Tony. The film showed how gender roles in the Mien community affected the women who live in America who have multiple identities. For Kelly, she was a Mien woman, an American, and also a 1.5 or 2nd generation Asian-American. Her identity-issues were complex and were apparently frustrating for her when dealing with the simple-mindedness of Tony, who wanted her to be more “traditional”. I thought the presentation overall was ok, I did find the topic of presentation intriguing though. I wonder, do other Mien or Hmong people see the movie Kelly Loves Tony and see their own experiences in the film?