Saturday, October 12, 2019

Dear HMong Men

Dear HMong Men,

It's time you have "the talk" with your fathers, uncles, brothers, sons, and anyone you know who needs to hear it.

This is a plea for you to join the movement.

Some of the things I will talk about should be obvious to you, but in case you have your own misconception of who HMong womxn are, I'm going to start with the basics.

HMong womxn are smart. They are full of knowledge. They will be able to see and do things that HMong men can never do. We will also be able to see and do things that HMong womxn can never do. It means we need each other to coexist.

HMong womxn's opinion matters. HMong women are critical thinkers and will help you understand things from a new perspective. This will help you become a better person when you interact with others.

HMong womxn are living beings. They are not an object to be used and thrown away. HMong womxn are alive with their own needs and wants just like you. You need to respect that and give them space and time to grow into the queens they are.

HMong womxn do not belong to you. If a Hmong womxn no longer love you, let them go. They do not belong to you. If you find yourself no longer in love with them, let them go. They do not belong to you. It's going to be hard to move on and create a new life for yourself (and your children), but you will find out later that this is for the best.

The "bride price," also known as nqi tshoob, nqi taub hau, nqi poj niam, nqui mis nqi hno is a gift of gratitude and assurance. This does not mean that Hmong womxn belong to you because you "paid" for her. It is a vow that we, the groom and our family, will love and cherish our bride like our own kin. It does not mean we exchanged money for a person. It symbolizes our appreciation and respect for our bride's family for taking care of her thus far. It is now our collective responsibility to care for her the same way her family did.

HMong womxn's life matters. There have been too many murder-suicides--too many HMong womxn dying in the hands of their perpetrator, HMong men. Enough is enough. HMong womxn's life matters. We need our fathers, uncles, brothers, and sons to hold each other accountable, to not succumb to the old traditions of upholding HMong men in power, and to start viewing HMong womxn as complex beings who share the same rights as us. HMong womxn's life matters.

We need to accept the fact that all HMong men benefit from our traditional patriarchal practices. Our culture is beautiful, and our methods are not. We can no longer sit idle to the injustices that exist to dishonor HMong womxn and children. This includes speaking against abusive international marriages, biases about HMong divorced women and widows, sexual violence, domestic violence, gender violence, HMong LGBTQ oppression, and unjust funeral practices for divorced women.

If there is no space to have "the talk," you need to create that safe space. Reach out to others who have done so in their own community like Manforward, Freedom Inc., Building Our Future, and Cia Siab Inc.

Do not, I repeat, do not mistake the safe space that HMong womxn have created for themselves as an opportunity for you to speak against "the talk."
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