Gender Bias and its Impact on Acculturation in America In many Asian societies, the male holds a dominant role in maintaining family and cultural values. This aspect seems to cause conflicts between the generations of Asian families here in the United States. The US is known for its permissiveness in self-determination amongst its people. Asians who had an American upbringing would strongly disagree with the views of those who are newly immigrated. These generational conflicts were evident by observing the male characters of the following pieces.
Mayli Vang and Va Megn ThoJ delineated the docile role of Hmong women in elation to their husbands. Due to these clashing views, there was a social conflict between the different generations of Hmongs in America. Likewise, Maxine Hong Kingston’s fiction showed how the immigrant males often took roles in which their traditional societies would consider feminine. As a result, many immigrants found it hard to acculturate in America. Thus, it was palpable in these pieces that adjustment in America for the Asian male often challenged their views and manhood.
At the outset, the liberal lifestyle in America challenged the male Hmong immigrant’s views on women. In Hmong Society, women were viewed unequal to men, and women had the duty to serve their husbands. Traditionally, the relation between a husband and wife in Hmong society was very much like the relationship between a master and a slave. In western culture, this would have been considered unethical because it violated human rights. However, in Hmong society, this was a social norm.
According to Mayli Vangs “We Women of the Hmong Culture,” the typical role of a woman was to clean the plates and only ate what the men had leftover (Vang). Mayli Vang even included that this was a privilege for women “to be seated at the table of those who ere seated before,” meaning the men (Vang). Gaoly Yang that this was what the Hmong considered the clan system, the role of women was to stay at home and manage the household, and anyone who went outside would be banished from the family( Zia 261).
Furthermore, Helen Zia described how women in Hmong society were often forced into marriage by way of kidnapping (Zia 258). This aspect of Hmong culture showed how these values are so deeply embedded in their culture. This secondary status of women to men is a historically embedded practice in Hmong culture; thus, breaking away from this tradition will pose as a difficult task for the Hmong male immigrant. For instance, Va -Megn Thors “Hmoob Boy Meets Hmong Girl” portrayed an accurate picture as to how American society challenged the values of Hmong men.
In the dialogue between the two voices, it was evident that the conversation was not friendly, but rather, showed the opposing views of the two identities. Too], who stuck to his culture, regarded Jennifer’s sense of liberalism and independence as being traitorous to her Hmong identity. On the other hand, Jennifer countered, mfou’re arrogant, macho, conservative, ignorant, and sexist… I’m definitely not a virgin! I’m impure! I’m used goods! (ThoJ 105), proving that she did not desire a between conservative Hmong males and second-generation Hmong women.
As Yang described, “The older generation can’t Just blend in with the melting pot… Can we have respect for both women who are progressive and women who are traditional,” showing that the cultural poles seemed impossible to coexist with each other (Zia 261). Conflicting views between the generations hindered the Hmong people from coming collectively as a whole in order to bring progress in their community. Nevertheless, this was more of a burden for the Hmong men as they were the ones ho emigrated here to start families.
As shown in Jennifer’s character, Americanized Hmongs did not have a problem with deviating from their culture’s conservative practices. Here in the United States, Hmong women grew up glorifying the same freedom all American women grew up with. As a result, this cultural barrier exacerbated the assimilation of Hmong men into American society. Finally, Maxine Hong Kingston’s parable indicated another aspect that contradicted the expectations of Asian males. Here, the tale was set in an unusual society that challenged the manhood of a Chinese man, Tang Ao.
In the tale, Tang Ao was stranded on a land ruled by women, and he became puzzled at the dominance of women in this society. Tang Ao was completely overpowered by the women and was forced to undergo a transformation. During the process, he had no control over himself on whether or not he desired the transformation. Instead, he allowed the group of women to do whatever to him without showing resistance. Kingston’s narration, “They bent his toes so far backward that his arched foot cracked. The old ladies squeezed each foot and broke many tiny bones along the sides,” showed how powerless the man was in the situation (Kingston 312).
Moreover, the parable was synonymous to the experiences of young Chinese male immigrants here in the United States. As mentioned by Lim in the beginning of the chapter, “The fgure of Tang Ao also suggest the employment history of male Chinese immigrants to the United States, who were restricted by discriminatory laws to traditional Women’s’ work in laundries and restaurants, work that produced a public image of Chinese American men as subordinate and effeminate,” which proves that male immigrants often had experiences that were unmanly (Lim 304).
This interfered with the acculturation process because adjusting ften contradicted their values as men. Even more so, not only was Tang AO’s manhood taken away from him, but he was also forced to serve the queen of that land, which obviously, was a female identity. Unlike the women in the Hmong stories who told of their servile relationship with men, Kingston’s tale showed quite the opposite roles between the two. Thus, “On Discovery’ was a tale that not only illustrated the subservient role of a male to a female but also how male immigrants often took the roles of females in American society.
Ultimately, it was palpable in these narratives that the manhood of Asian male immigrants were often contested, hich in turn, interfered with their acculturation here in America. For instance, the Hmong men, who were accustomed to having the women serve for them, had a hard time accepting the fact that their female counterparts were free and independent. As evident in Va-Megn Thors story between the interaction of two Hmongs, the two identities had contrasting values as the woman enjoyed her freedom and did not sought the authority of a male Hmong.
This generational conflict prevented the more difficult. However, this gender bias between the male and female Hmongs has changed for the better. Helen Zia informed that due to the demands of living in the United States, the men cannot be the only providers. In other words, the women had to work as well. As a result, this altered the traditional roles, which hopefully is helping bridge the various generations of Hmongs.
Furthermore, Maxine Hong Kingston’s “On Discovery’ was a fictional tale that symbolized some of the experiences that contradicted the social perspectives of the traditional Chinese male. Due to the discriminatory laws that were present at that time, young Chinese men had to resort working in places that were socially considered effeminate. As can be een, the contradicting views of the different generations may be one of the root causes as to why Asians are underrepresented in American society.
The Americanized ones stick to a certain identity while those of recent arrivals remain intact with their culture. Perhaps if the two set aside their differences, may be they can create a new identity that would transcend well into American society. Lim, Shirley Geok-lin. Asian American Literature An Anthology. Ed. Marisa L. L’Heureux. Lincolnwood: NTC Publishing Group. Print. Zia, Helen. Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Print.