#MeToo – Sexual Harassment in the Vietnamese Community
I cherish many traditions from the Vietnamese culture which we brought to America, such as how we treat our elders and teachers. On the other hand, one thing I despise most is the sexual harassment older men continue to show towards women and young girls.
A few days after I shared my #metoo post on Facebook, I went to Lion Supermarket in San Jose to get some food for my camping trip. I was waiting in line just to get some meat, oh the irony. While waiting patiently at the counter, I was continuously and constantly harassed by the butchers. I experienced a barrage of heckles and catcalls in Vietnamese just to buy a few pounds of meat!
“Help her, she needs your help.”
“You better hold her hand tight to help her find those fish balls.”
“Oh the pretty one, don’t let her wait too long.”
I noticed older women around me look at me without saying anything. Male customers probably didn’t even notice.
I pretended it wasn’t happening. In my traditional upbringing, girls just put up with it, we are not allowed to say anything back because it may encourage the heckling to get worse. To top it off we would be viewed as “Chợ búa” or "Gansta."
For the women who try to defend themselves, they are judged by society as being inappropriate, bad, or mean! How insane is that? By not saying anything, am I condoning their behavior? Or was it the best way to handle the situation? What should I have done?
I went home with bad feelings for hours. I was angry. I felt degraded. I questioned my values because I didn’t say anything. I questioned my culture and how behind the times it is. I questioned the humanity these men lacked. Mostly, I was changed.
I imagine the next time it happens to me, I will say something even if the people around me judged me for not following my Vietnamese cultural etiquette. They can call me dữ, mean, all they want, but I refuse to be a victim again.
To the men out there, if you ever witness this, please speak up for the women because they have been taught their whole lives to not say anything out loud.
Please share with me your thoughts.
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Trami Nguyen Cron
Founder, Chief Editor
Trami is the founder of Chopsticks Alley and author of VietnamEazy, a novel about Mothers, Daughters and Food. She is passionate about the emergence of the Young Vietnamese culture in America. As a Vietnamese-American, she created Chopsticks Alley as a platform for the younger Vietnamese generation to have a space to express their point of views about news, business, art, food, and culture. She hopes this platform will also help to unite the Vietnamese Community all over the world.