One Hmong Womxn’s Response to “Not all Hmong men”

Yes, I’m talking to you, as in those of you who feel so personally attacked, or as if your grandpas/fathers/brothers/boyfriends/husbands are being attacked. If you feel that way, it can mean a multitude of things (this list is not exhaustive):

1) the shoe fits
2) you are centering yourself in a situation or statement that probably doesn’t even apply to you — news flash, not everything is about you, unless it is, then refer back to #1
3) you probably live in a privileged bubble where you don’t have to experience such trauma or constantly fight for Hmong womxn’s agency
4) you’re simply ignorant

When Hmong womxn come forward to tell their grief or their shared experiences that basically outline the toxicity of Hmong men and Hmong culture, all too often a hoard of Hmong men (and let’s not forget those Hmong womxn who slip in too) come to the defense of the patriarchy. If they’re not victim-blaming, then they’re slut-shaming — all derailing tactics to protect one’s own fragile ego and liability. And don’t even express that you simply want to protect the Hmong culture and community, because the Hmong culture needs to be called out too.

When you say “not all Hmong men,” you are taking away the accountability that should be held for, wait for it, yes: *ALL Hmong men. Why all? Even if a statement or experience doesn’t apply to you, you, as a Hmong man, should acknowledge your privilege and actively do the labor of calling out your own friends and brothers and fathers, who exhibit said toxic attributes. You are responsible for using your male privilege to dismantle the patriarchy alongside countless other Hmong womxn and allies.

When you say “not all Hmong men,” you are redirecting the conversation away from the problems that need to be addressed. Of course men outside the Hmong community are also bad. But are you hearing yourself, too? You’re redirecting blame onto someone or something else so that we don’t have to focus on our own culture’s men. Sure, we can talk about non-Hmong men, but if we can’t even talk about our own people first, how are we supposed to start discussions to improve our own community? If we continue to neglect and ignore the problems in our community, then we will only continue to strengthen the patriarchy and toxic masculinity. To put it more simply, we will continue to hear bad stories about, yes, you guessed it: Hmong men.

If you’re too ashamed or fearful to call out your own people and culture, then you are what’s dragging the community down from flourishing to its fullest potential. And for those of you who love to use “look in the mirror” rebuttals: yea, I look in the mirror often. I see what I love about the Hmong culture, and I see what needs to be changed. If you don’t know already, you can still love/embrace/enjoy something AND be critical of it for its own good.

“But it’s her fault for choosing a boy and not a man!” Shut it with that victim-blaming mentality. Get off your high horse and grab yourself some humility and modesty. NEXT.

“Yea, well men and womxn are born different.” But it doesn’t mean that men and womxn should be confined to socially constructed gendered views. When you say that men are supposed to be tough and superior, you are exhibiting toxic masculinity. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with men wanting to be tough, but not all men want to or are, and that’s ok. “Oh, but look, you just said ‘not all men!’ What a hypocrite!” *eyes roll*

Are you going to tell me now that your daddy or family or our culture raised you to be tough? Are you going to tell me that “men will be men!”? Just because you were raised a certain way, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn and change. And no, men will not be men, because what does that even mean except to say “I don’t care and you can’t do anything about it,” like some immature little kid.

Are you going to tell me you grew up in a household that was less sexist and more “equal?” Good for you! I’m genuinely glad you never had to face any specific emotional or mental hardships from the Hmong patriarchy. But listen here, that in no way means that “things have already changed for the better” or that “those are things of the past.” The Hmong community and the lived experiences that people face are far more varied and nuanced than what goes on in your family or your local clan. I mean, I haven’t even began to talk about the cis-heteropatriarchy and the lived experiences of our Hmong LGBTQIA+ folx! They are as much involved and important in these discussions as well!

Lastly, are you thinking I have daddy issues? Are you thinking I’m a feminist man-hater? I don’t have daddy issues, and even if I did my points would still be valid because its coming from a place of objectivity. I am a feminist, and I think all men are trash. “Then everything you’ve said doesn’t even matter! Hypocrite!” *eyes roll* Remember when I said earlier that not everything is about you and if your feelings are hurt, then the shoe fits? Yea, go back and read my list above for more information. When people say “men are trash,” instead of reacting, consider how and why it is that men are trash and how you can take steps to appropriately address it (*refer to paragraph 4 about “ALL Hmong men”).

Sure, there are horrible people in all genders, but let’s not discredit the large amount of Hmong womxn who die by their male-partners’ hands; the amount of Hmong womxn forced into marriages or told to “ua siab ntev;” the labels Hmong womxn are given for being divorced or “overdue” for marriage, etc; the ways Hmong womxn are taught from a young age to do domestic work and be subservient to and lesser than men in the culture….

So, to the men (and womxn) who belong to the clan of “Not all Hmong men,” get over yourselves.

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