SEX IN VIETNAM

SEX IN VIETNAM

Old Vietnamese coins pictured couples making love. The philosophy behind these images was related to the Asian belief that the prosperity of a nation was tied to the happiness and productivity of its people. Despite this in Vietnam today girls are often carefully chaperoned and expected to be virgins on their wedding night. By contrast many men have had sex with prostitutes before marriage.

The blogger on xuvn.com wrote: Sexuality in Vietnam is distinguished by a double standard that expects women to remain virgins until marriage while men are allowed to enjoy sexual freedom. Young women who lose their virginity before marriage, whether through rape or in a relationship, diminish their chances for a "good" marriage, while young men can "sow wild oats" with abandon and be even admired for being so "manly". [Source: XUVN.com xuvn.com/vietnam +++]

"In Vietnam virginity is sacred. The culture and the family lets the girl know it is her responsibility to keep her virginity as soon as they are old enough to understand what virginity is. Vietnamese men are reluctant to marry a non-virgin even if they are the one who took the virginity! Vietnamese woman may not even be forgiven if she is raped. In order to legalize sexual relations or to avoid the stigma of becoming "old maids" young Vietnamese women feel pressured into early marriages. Unlike women, young men, on the other hand, are allowed to express their sexuality freely, and are sometimes initiated by fathers who take their sons to brothels for sexual intercourse with women. +++

Cuss Word, See Insults Under Language

Vietnam's Vice Sports Minister Turns to Child Rape To Rid Him of Bad Luck

In 2004, Associated Press reported: "Vietnam has charged a former senior sports official with the alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl in what reportedly was his attempt to rid himself of bad luck, state-controlled media. Luong Quoc Dung, 52, former vice chairman of the sports ministry, was formally charged while at the B14 prison in Hanoi, following a six-month investigation, the official Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper said. The charge carries a maximum 15-year jail term. According to the police report, Dung assaulted the girl in a hotel room in December, 2003 after paying his former mistress, Nguyen Quynh Nga, $1,000 to procure the girl. [Source: Associated Press, August 19, 2004]

State-controlled media have widely reported that Dung requested the meeting because he was experiencing a spate of bad luck and believed that having sex with a virgin would end that streak. Nga also has been charged with child rape. The case has been extensively covered by state media and marked the first time that a high-ranking government official was publicly accused of raping a minor. Numerous articles have run saying the victims' family attempted to drop the case after Dung allegedly paid them US$68,000. Dung was arrested at his office on Feb. 19, and Prime Minister Phan Van Khai officially fired him March 1, citing "special seriousness of his lawbreaking act."

Relationships Between Married and Unmarried Women and Men in Vietnam

According to O’Harrow (1995), the polite term for a wife is noi tro ("interior helper"), the common, not-so-polite epithet is Noi Ttoung or "general of the interior." The women of Ha Dong in particular have a reputation for being fierce spouses that has gained them the nickname of Su Tu Ha Dong or "Ha Dong Lionesses." It is said about their husbands that they belong to a very ancient club, the Hoi So Vo or "Society of Men Who Fear Their Wives." Folk humor aside, it is a strategy to survive that motivates women to gain control of the family finances. Because the wife is in fact the backbone of the family, many families get into deep trouble or even break up when the wife/mother dies. The social system in Southeast Asia is based on a system of moral debts and balances. The relationship between (married) women and men is not one between two individuals, but between two life projects, which depend on one another. Break one side away and the whole system crumbles. [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality, 2.hu-berlin.de/sexology \*/ ]

Contrary to Western notions, where feelings of guilt support freedom before marriage but faithfulness afterwards, in societies where shame and the notion of virgin marriage is operative, extramarital affairs outnumber premarital ones. If a Vietnamese woman takes a lover and can keep the fact secret and so avoid shame, she can maintain an upper hand. The man, on the other hand, while much less bound by problems of public shame for having a girlfriend, is more likely to be worried about surrendering self-control and so losing his face. As O’Harrow (1995) points out, Vietnamese women seldom have male friends, per se, because they have very few social mechanisms for dealing with men on an equal footing. Men are always patrons or clients, fathers, sons, husbands, or lovers. A wife deals with her husband with the same mechanisms that a mother uses to deal with her son, and a lover is usually treated as a daughter treats her father. So one can understand why tales of female sexual insatiability also attach to the Ha Dong lioness myth: It is the woman who controls the man, and he is the one who loses face. \*/

It seems that at least in the urban centers of Vietnam, women are behaving in quite the same way as in the Western world: They have boyfriends and they have sexual intercourse with them, but are still anxious to pretend that the current boyfriend is the first and only one. Over 95 percent of the 279 unmarried women in the Hanoi sample of Bélanger and Hong (1998) had a boyfriend at the time of the survey, and they defined a boyfriend as a male friend with whom they had a committed relationship, and in most cases, a person with whom they had sexual intercourse. Once dating was initiated, one third of the women had had their first sexual experience in less than a year. After a year, two thirds had had sexual intercourse. The average duration between the two events was about 15 months. Most of the women did not engage in sex unless they knew their boyfriend for some time. Nevertheless, all the women but one said that their boyfriend took the initiative to engage in sexual relations. It was also not possible for them to introduce the subject of birth control, or to reveal that they had boyfriends before him. The women were afraid that, if they revealed their previous experiences to their current boyfriends, they might lose his respect and thus damage the relationship. They may obtain an abortion if they do not want to marry him (at least at the moment). \*/

General Concepts of Sexuality and Love in Vietnam

According to the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Grammar makes clear how important marriage is in Vietnamese society. Proschan (1998) provides this example: "When Vietnamese ask one another about their marital status they do not ask ’Are you married?’ but ’Have you married yet?’ A proper response is not a yes-or-no answer but the answer ’Already’ or ’Not yet’." Although the minimum legal age at marriage is 18 years for women, postponing marriage until age 22 is strongly recommended. Up to and through the French Colonial period, Vietnamese women were not regarded as nubile until about their 16th or 17th year. However, according to the Ly-Ky ("The Book of Rites"), girls might marry after 14 years and men at 16. Any marriages prior to those ages were not accepted. [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality, 2.hu-berlin.de/sexology \*/ ]

According to Proschan (1998), if men feared that marriage might complicate their lives, they tried to find a girl who did not see in them as the focus of her desires and demands. In fact, many Vietnamese men believed that women were perfectly satisfied with something like a companionate marriage, which involved sufficient ardor to produce offspring, but was not complicated by passionate desire. A hundred years earlier, Jacobus X. (1898) confirmed this rather unromantic view of marriage: Marriage is for the Annamite a question of business and the procreation of descendants, rather than of sentimental love. On her side, the woman has not generally a very great affection for her husband, but concentrates all her love on her children. /*\

Proschan (1998) writes that before colonial and revolutionary legal reforms made monogamy the only acceptable form of marriage, polygamy (specifically, polygyny) had been equally legitimate. When polygyny lost its legal sanction, it nevertheless continued outside the law, and women in polygynous relationships lost the protections and rights that the older legal codes had afforded their predecessors - i.e., those of second wives or concubines. Indications are that extramarital heterosexual relations were frequent enough among married men that most people - male or female - assumed that they were the norm. There were numerous available partners - female or male - for men whose wives "fail[ed] to provide proper attention and stimulation" (Khuat Thu Hong 1998), as one researcher characterized the common rationale. /*\

Religious Factors Affecting Sexuality in Vietnam

According to the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Through Buddhist-nun monasteries, Buddhism exerted a strong influence for the equality of men and women. Although the monasteries were skeptically regarded by the Confucianist elite - one of the common defamations being that the nuns were involved in lesbian sexual practices - Buddhism gave women another role model besides that of wife and mother. This was especially true for elderly widows who were entering Buddhist orders. On the other hand, their influence on the priesthood seems to be difficult to detect. [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality, 2.hu-berlin.de/sexology \*/ ]

Vietnamese Daoism, derived from the doctrine of Lao Tzu, is based essentially on the participation of man in the universal order. This order depends on the equilibrium of the two elements Yin and Yang, which represent the constant duality of nature: rest and motion, liquid and solid, light and darkness, concentration and expansion, and material and spiritual. The material world being imbued with these two principles, the Daoist believes that whoever is able to act according to these principles could become the master of the world. This belief, in turn, has promoted a kind of mysticism, reflected in the magical practices of certain shamans who claim to possess the secret of the universe. \*/

The Daoist refrains from troubling the natural order of things; on the contrary, he conforms to it in every circumstance. He considers the taking of initiatives to be a waste of time and energy. In respecting the basic Daoist doctrines of passivity and absence of care, he avoids the active life. These doctrines, which were adopted by many Confucian scholars as well, are summed up in the Daoist maxim: "Do nothing and everything will be accomplished simultaneously." The supreme divinity of Daoism is the Emperor of Jade. With his ministers of Death and Birth, he controls the destiny of men. The cult is replete with incantations, charms, and amulets, which once made for prosperous trade, with the shamans intervening in every possible occasion in life. \*/

In the context of sexuality, yang is identified with semen or seminal essence (jing, yin), which is why Daoists are encouraged to have intercourse often but without ejaculating. The aim is to build up jing but retain yang through not ejaculating, but at the same time enabling the woman to reach orgasm and give off her yin essence, which additionally strengthens the man. Another Daoist practice is to get a young man and woman together and to gather up their sexual secretions and swallow them - a practice that is believed to prolong life for the Daoist. Jacobus X. (1898) reported that it was still very common at the end of the 1800s, although he did put it strongly as a "strange freak of eroticism" : "The old Celadon is accompanied by a servant or strong coolie, who copulates with a woman in his presence, and then retires ... When once the agent is retired, well and duly paid, the old debauchee is left alone with the woman, who is still resting upon the field of battle. Then the man approaches, and eagerly receives in bucca sua, the liquid which runs ex vulva feminae. \*/

In sexual matters, Confucianism is quite "puritanic." A "good" young girl is not only expected to keep her virginity until she gets married and to get married only once in her life, she is not supposed to make herself attractive, even to her own husband. Confucianism does not consider sexual activity as wrong, but love and tenderness are treated with mistrust, and physical displays of them are considered at least questionable. This rule applies not only to showing affection in public, but also to its display in the privacy of the home. As early as in the seventeenth century, male and female poets protested against it. \*/

Premarital Sex, Courtship, and Dating in Vietnam

Research on youth by a variety of organizations show that young people are sexually active at the same age as their parents, but the difference is that their parents were married and they are not. According to Encyclopedia of Sexuality: The information one can gather about the beliefs and practices of young people regarding premarital relations and the role of sexuality are quite contradictory and are evidence that sex research is still underdeveloped in Vietnam. For example, the Departments of Psychology and Sociology of Hanoi University conducted research in 1992 on the sexual relations of university and high school students in Hanoi (Hoang Ba Thinh 1992). About 72.4 percent of female students in their fourth year of university had sexual relations, with only 17.6 percent having had one (usually their first) partner, whereas the others had between two and four partners. Yet, after graduating, only 8.2 percent of respondents had married one of these partners. Among those female students who had boyfriends, it was quite common for them to live together in the dormitories. An early 1990s’ survey by CARE (Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere) found that just over half of Vietnamese men had had two or more sexual partners in the previous two weeks (Franklin 1993). [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality, 2.hu-berlin.de/sexology \*/ ]

In a recent survey, only 34 percent of students in Ho Chi Minh City responded that they found premarital sex "acceptable." Although not considered high by international standards, the statistic was shocking to most Vietnamese. A socially more acceptable figure was that only 10.3 percent of men and 1.4 percent of women had had sexual intercourse before their marriage, and 57.5 percent said they did not plan to have sex before marriage, whereas only 14.7 percent replied that they did plan to have sex before marriage (Chittick 1997).\*/

O’Harrow (1995) reports that premarital intercourse is quite common in Vietnamese villages, but also that there is still an obligation on the man’s part to marry the girl he has deflowered, and she reminds him of this fact in the strongest possible terms. Young couples in Hanoi, even married couples, face great difficulty in finding a place for private encounters. The evening stroller through the city’s lakeside public parks must step carefully to avoid interrupting lovers hard at work. \*/

Adultery and Extramarital Sex in Vietnam

According to a United Nations study, 40 percent of Vietnamese married men have had extramarital sex. Grant McCool of Reuters wrote: "In general, Westerners living in Vietnam view Vietnamese as abiding by traditional norms, but it is not a prudish society. "Rice six days a week and pho (noodle soup) on the seventh," is a comment some Vietnamese make to indicate an extra-marital affair or liaisons with a prostitute. Sharp beeps or vibrations on a married man's mobile phone can elicit quips about "the cat" (lover) calling. Research on youth by a variety of organizations show that young people are sexually active at the same age as their parents, but the difference is that their parents were married and they are not. [Source: Grant McCool, Reuters, July 11, 2007 *^*]

The Encyclopedia of Sexuality reported: "It seems that the younger generation in particular, which grew up during doi moi, tends to excuse adultery. Unhappiness in marriage, being sexually unfulfilled, or just being attracted by another person are now regarded as legitimate reasons to have sexual contact with another person other than one’s partner (Khuat Thu Hong 1998).According to Fahey (1998), middle-class urban women often confide during informal interviews that their husbands have a mistress or entertain several girlfriends. Because women are still responsible for family finances and the welfare of children, it is common for them to have secret savings as a buffer against their husband’s indiscretions with other women. [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality, 2.hu-berlin.de/sexology \*/ ]

A quite questionable story found in different sources dating back to the nineteenth century is that a woman found guilty of adultery would be thrown to a specially trained elephant, which in turn threw her into the air with his trunk and trampled her to death when she landed. Quite telling is the gusto with which this story was spread by European authors. The early Annamite Code contained the following article: "An adulteress shall receive ninety blows of the rattan upon her buttocks, and her husband may afterwards marry her to another, or sell her if he pleases, or keep her in his house." Jacobus X. (1898) quotes the Le Code: "Shop men who commit adultery with the wife of their master shall be treated as servitors or slaves, and punished by strangulation." \*/

As O’Harrow (1995) shows, moral values in Vietnamese society are enforced by constraints of shame rather than guilt. A Vietnamese woman can cheat (in the Western sense) on her husband without regret, as long as it is not known. The following saying illustrates the point: "Flirtations with desire, I wore a wedding ring for protection; I lost my wedding ring, but my desire remains." Vietnamese men, in their turn, know the "rules of the game" and have less of a tendency than women to brag publicly about their conquests. \*/

Kissing, Sex Positions, Oral Sex and Sex Enhancers in Vietnam

According to the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: "In traditional Vietnam, kissing in the "Western" sense was forbidden. Instead, nose sniffing or rubbing, comparable with Inuit customs, was practiced. The preferred position for sexual intercourse among the Vietnamese was both partners lying face to face, side by side, or the rear-entry position. The reason for these preferences, Jacobus X. (1898) suggests, is the structure of the Vietnamese bed, which is made of bamboo slates. In the missionary position, which he calls la position de l’amour classique, a man would scrape the skin off his knees. [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality, 2.hu-berlin.de/sexology \*/ ]

Jacobus X. (1898) described oral sex as a way to avoid infection with a venereal disease. Apparently, it is not a very successful method, as he later writes: "I have found eruptions, ulcerations, and the scars of chancres, on the lips and tongue of the unhappy victims of this form of debauchery. When once they are affected, they in turn help to spread the syphilitic virus, by a law of reciprocity which it would be very difficult to repress." This was confirmed by the French surgeon Joyeux (1930). \*/

Anal sex seems to have been far more common as a homosexual practice than among heterosexual couples. Jacobus X. (1898) suggests that it was a phenomenon that only occurred between prostitutes and their customers: "The woman is old when she takes to sodomy, which she does rather from economic motives, on account of the money it brings, than from natural taste." \*/

Khuat Thu Hong (1998) mentions that some men, especially male prostitutes, are undergoing the surgery of "putting pellets" (small, metal balls - usually two or three at a time, but some men have as many as nine or ten) or "swords" (the sword-like plastic pieces are punched through the penis) into their penis. The men argue that the altered penis creates special pleasure for women. \*/

Masturbation, Sexual Dysfunctions and Therapies in Vietnam

No information about autoerotic practices exists except for the French period. According to Jacobus X. (1898), masturbation occurred very often: "Nearly all the boys practice masturbation from the age of fourteen or fifteen years," but it seemed to him that it was practiced only by males: This, no doubt, results from the ease with which the girl or woman can satisfy her natural desires; moreover, the great frequency of the "flowers" [an STD, probably gonorrhea] must help to limit this special form of vice. I never met but two cases, and both of these were the mistresses of Europeans (Jacobus X. 1898). [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality, 2.hu-berlin.de/sexology \*/ ]

As O’Harrow (1995) pointed out, Vietnamese men tend to think of lovemaking in almost medical terms, concerned about the maintenance of their potency, psychological as well as physical. The main "sex therapy" for impotence is Chinese medicine. On the side of women, giving birth only to daughters is still regarded as the only noteworthy female "sexual dysfunction." But she can rely on her confidante, the soothsayer, fortune-teller, or thay boi. The thay boi is nearly always herself female, and although men also come to learn the future from her, the majority of her clients are women, with whom she maintains a semi-psychic relationship. The ability to be of help depends on the thay boi’s combined knowledge of and sensitivity to the predictable psychological concerns of her women clients, the range going from faithless husbands to vicious mother-in-laws, prying sister-in-laws, and rebellious children. She controls the commonly accepted cultural signs and knows the symbols that are needed to interpret these phenomena in a manner acceptable to her clients. The fortune-teller is the only credible yet disinterested female confidante available to Vietnamese women suffering psychological pain.

Vietnam’s "Quiet" Sexual Revolution

Reporting from Ho Chi Minh City, Grant McCool of Reuters wrote: " A young woman lives with her boyfriend but hides it from her family, girls write blogs about love and relationships and couples seeking privacy cuddle in public parks at nightfall. A "quiet" sexual revolution is unfolding in Vietnam, an intensely family-oriented society that holds strong traditions of women being married by their mid-20s and having children. [Source: Grant McCool, Reuters, July 11, 2007 *^*]

"Huyen, a 30-year-old public relations executive, came to work in Ho Chi Minh City two years ago from Hanoi. After first staying with an aunt, she secretly moved into her boyfriend's apartment. "I didn't tell my aunt," she said. "It is quite popular to move in together. Besides, Saigon is big and many couples who have moved together from other provinces live together." Young people are dating more before marriage, having pre-marital sex, and have more outlets through the Internet to talk about the joys and problems of relationships than previous generations. *^*

"It is all part of the socio-economic transformation in the communist-run country that was relatively isolated only 15 years ago after decades of war and economic failure. "Somebody said it is a time of sexual revolution in Vietnam but it is a bit quieter than that, than what happened say in America in the 1960s and 1970s, but it's growing," said psychologist Khuat Thu Hong. "It's difficult to explain such a rapid change." *^*

"The changes are especially sharp for single women, whose job opportunities and mobility have become equal to those of men in recent years of high economic growth and increased incomes as agrarian Vietnam moves toward industrialization. Living arrangements are changing, especially for migrants who left home villages to study at university or work in offices and factories around the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City. Internet chat rooms, web sites, blogs and columns in the state-run "mass media" have become forums for young people to discuss love and sex and sexual orientation. *^*

"Vietnamese say attitudes toward sex and relationships have become much more open. However, most preferred not to use their full names in interviews, a telling sign that traditional family values still hold sway. One outspoken woman is Nhu Khue, a petite 30-year-old who writes her own blog and is an active member of a web site for women www.traicasau.com/forum. "In Vietnam, old people still want girls to be virgins but times are changing," she said. Khue and others said that there is a perception that only Vietnamese women who date foreign men have pre-marital sex." *^*

Parks and Canoodling Couples in Vietnam

Reporting from Ho Chi Minh City, Grant McCool of Reuters wrote: "Parks in the city still called Saigon are popular at night among canoodling couples for whom privacy is a premium. Although economic change has altered the model of three generations living under one roof, it is still the norm for most. Sitting on motorcycles with their backs to the road and oblivious to the surroundings, these couples are usually in their 20s, the age group that makes up more than half of Vietnam's 85 million population. In the heart of the capital, Hanoi, a tree-lined boulevard aptly named Thanh Nien (Young People) runs between two lakes and is known as a "lover's lane" for romantic trysts. Couples cuddle and kiss on their bikes under the trees or in swan-shaped paddle boats out on the water. [Source: Grant McCool, Reuters, July 11, 2007 *^*]

"The tradition dates back to the early 1980s when assignations were tacitly permitted by the straight-laced authorities, recalled sociologist Le Bach Duong. "I still remember they would turn off the lights on Thanh Nien street at 7.30 or 8 at night so it was like an unwritten agreement between the electricity authority and the youth," said Duong, director of the Institute for Social Development Studies. "At midnight, they turned the lights back on again." Nowadays, the lights stay on. *^*

Such activity involving Vietnamese is not confined to Vietnam. Reporting from Kuala Lumpur, Neville Spykerman wrote in the Malay Mail: "Taman Sri Bahagia, which houses hundreds of foreign workers, has been labelled "Little Vietnam" for a good reason. The number of Vietnamese there, combined with those of other nationalities, easily overwhelms the locals. But what is worrying the locals are what they claimed to be the embarrassing sexual activities. A resident, who declined to be identified, said the Vietnamese were the dominant community. A dozen terrace houses have been converted into hostels housing between 25 and 50 workers from Vietnam, Nepal and Indonesia. When The Malay Mail visited the housing estate on Thursday, petite and pretty Vietnamese women were seen on the streets and by the windows of their houses. They are legally employed at factories in Tampoi and buses arrive several times a day to ferry them to and from work. [Source: Neville Spykerman, Malay Mail, The New Straits Times, February 28, 2004 ^*^]

"However, residents claimed these women have attracted a constant stream of local and foreign men to the area to court them. Residents said that besides amorous couples sitting outside their gates till the early morning, there were those who had sex behind the bushes and trees. Another irate resident said that his nine-year-old son told him that he saw a man being "breast-fed" by a woman two weeks ago. ^*^

"A 38-year-old businessman said that his son picked up a used condom and asked if it was a balloon. He has since switched rooms with his son so that the son would not be able to witness the amorous couples in action. The Malay Mail team who surveyed the stretch of land behind Jalan Sri Bahagia 16 on Thursday found several used condoms and old newspapers and wooden planks used by the lovers as bedding during their love-making. The businessman said that he had spoken to the supervisors of the factories nearby to keep their workers in check, but his pleas have obviously gone unheeded. ^*^

Talking and Making Signs About Sexuality in Vietnam

According to the Encyclopedia of Sexuality, "The Vietnamese prefer a flowery, euphemistic vocabulary when they speak about sexuality. For example, a man having sexual desires might say, "I am going to buy a tree." Food is also heavily connected with sexual activity. Words like "crisp, sticky, spicy" are used to describe food as well as women and are frequent in erotic fantasies. Many dishes are identified with female figures or organs: The white rice flour cake is the image of a virgin; the pulpy interior of a breadfruit with its sticky juice is associated with the vagina; the eating of a rice flour pancake is similar to the defloration rite; the sucking of the honey flambéed banana and the scooping of water in the rice field are symbols of having sex. As in many Asian countries, this type of language helps people to speak about sexual matters without using the terms that would embarrass them. [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality, 2.hu-berlin.de/sexology \*/ ]

In 2007, Tien Phong reported: “For the first time since the school for hearing-impaired children was built in Vietnam in 1975, a set of signs about reproductive health is being compiled by the World Population Fund and is scheduled to be put into use in early 2008. In the sign language vocabulary for Vietnamese hearing-impaired people, there are no signs related to the development of psycho-physiology and reproductive health. Therefore, when hearing-impaired children enter marriageable age, they face hindrances in understanding their bodies and reproductive health. The compilation of the above set of signs is hoped will help solve this problem. Do Ngoc Van, a teacher at the Hanoi-based Xa Dan Secondary School for Hearing-impaired Children, remembered one of her schoolgirls, who was the victim of sexual abuse. [Source: Tien Phong, Viet Nam News, July 14, 2007 ***]

"When she reached puberty, this schoolgirl, named N, was never explained to by anybody about the great changes in her body. N naturally made friends with any boy she by chance became acquainted and consequently, she got pregnant and had to quit school. "When girls have their periods for the first time, they are very afraid but they don’t know how to tell us about it because there is no sign for hearing-impaired people to express it. To tell others about this phenomenon, they have to express it very complicatedly, such as ‘I have colic and bleeding…", said teacher Ha Thi Dau of the Xa Dan Secondary School for Hearing-impaired Children. According to teacher Dau, in her class, some students begin to like each other. A schoolboy named Hieu, 13, writes love letters to his girlfriend. He also wrote a letter to express his affection to his teacher but he didn’t know how to express the feelings of a student for a female teacher, only of a lover for a lover. ***

New Openness About Sexuality in Vietnam

Thai Thanh Van and Liu Xiangxiao of Xinhua wrote: "Vietnamese people, especially youths, who can easily find sex information on the Internet, are not too shy to talk about sex as before. A number of them learn about sex through pornography websites or DVDs. At lunch-break, a woman was tapping at a computer`s keyboard in their office in Hanoi. "I want to know how to become an attractive wife and use contraception methods," said blushing accountant Nguyen Thi Hien. "I often get to know about sex on the Internet. Sometimes, I seek my friends` advises." Now, the country is focusing more on improving sex education, especially at schools and via local media, she said. "My children have better understanding on the issue compared with us before." [Source: Thai Thanh Van and Liu Xiangxiao, Xinhua, December 16, 2005 ><]

"The change in sexual attitude of young people is partly due to impact of western cultures," head of the Sociology Department of the University for Social Sciences and Humanities, Vu Hao Quang, told Xinhua on Friday. According to a recent survey by the Vietnamese Health Ministry, the General Statistics Office, the United Nations Children`s Fund and the World Health Organization, 41 percent of surveyed men and 22 percent of female respondents accepted premarital sex. The open viewpoint could be explained by liberal thinking about premarital sex and changing values of virginity, said local experts. It also resulted in lower average age of Vietnamese youths when they have sex for the first time. According to the country`s Committee of Population, Family and Children, now they have first sex at the age of 14.2 on average, compared with 19 several years ago.

" "Through our counseling we hear a lot of young people both girls and boys, talk about their pleasure," Hoang Tu Anh, a medical doctor with the Consultation of Investment in Health Promotion non-governmental organization, told Reuters. "In the last two or three years, there has been an upsurge in short stories or novels written by female writers on female sexuality," Tu Anh said. The group runs a web site www.tamsubantre.com that provides a forum for people to chat under the auspices of a moderator about marriage, relationships and reproductive and sexual health. [Source: Grant McCool, Reuters, July 11, 2007 *^*]

Donors such as the United Nations Population Fund and others back a Sunday evening call-in show on Voice of Vietnam radio called "Windows of Love," a forum for people of all ages. "It is quite remarkable that at least outwardly, all this change has not resulted in a break-up of social cohesion," said Ian Howie, UNFPA representative in Vietnam. "The rapidity of change seems to have been accommodated." *^*

Sex Research in Vietnam

On investigating sexual matters in Vietnam, the authors of the "Encyclopedia of Sexuality" wrote: "Because of the specific difficulties of doing sex research in a communist and Neo-Confucian country like Vietnam, we could not do field research on our own and instead had to rely on the published papers and books about Vietnam. What information we have on contemporary sexuality in Vietnam had to be gleaned on the one hand from the Vietnamese and international anthropological and ethnological literature, as well as AIDS, STD, and family planning research On the other hand, there exists the domestic social science research, which is focused mainly on "gender and development," and more recently on the nature of the Vietnamese family. For the French period, the late 1800s and the first half of the twentieth century, we used mainly the works of Jacobus X. (1898, writing as "A French Army-Surgeon") and Annick Guénel (1997). For the Vietnam War period, a major resource was Saigon After Dark by Philip Marnais (1967). Professor Frank Proschan of Indiana University, an expert on Vietnamese culture at the Folklore Institute, provided us not only with his own findings, but also books and articles about other subjects only available in Vietnam. [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality, 2.hu-berlin.de/sexology \*/ ]

There is no independent institute for sexological research in Vietnam. The main Vietnamese organizations involved in sexological research are strictly regulated by the government and its ministries. The more recent research projects were conducted by the Research Center of Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CGFED) and by the Center for Women and Family Studies (CWFS). The Institute of Sociology and the Institute of Educational Psychology of Hanoi University are leading in surveys dealing with sexual related topics. The Committee for Population and Family Planning (CPFP) and the Women’s Union, as well as the Youth Union of Vietnam, both in Hanoi, have also conducted some sexological research. There is also the Vietnam Family Planning Association (VINAFPA). The Population Council Hanoi supports these institutions and single researchers, as well as conducts its own studies. The Population Council assists the Vietnamese government in testing reproductive health interventions and incorporating them into current maternal and child health and family planning policies, programs, and research. \*/

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, Fox News and various websites, books and other publications identified in the text.

Bibliography

References and Suggested Readings: Non-Vietnamese scholars follow no standardized format for listing the author(s). The common practice of adding a comma after the first or second name leaves the reader without a clue as to which of the three names is the family name. Citations here follow the format used in our sources; Bao, V. N., Long, L. D., & Taylor, Y. 1998 (November). "Suffered lives": Assessment of social and behavioral practices for HIV/AIDS prevention in Can Tho. A report prepared for Family Health International and the National AIDS Committee. The Population Council, Vietnam Office; Bélanger, Danièle, & Khuat, Thu Hong. 1998 (June). Young single women using abortion in Hanoi, Viet Nam. Asia-Pacific Population Journal, 13(2):3-26. (Bangkok, Thailand); Carrier, J., Nguyen, B., & Su, S. 1997. Sexual relations between migrating populations (Vietnamese with Mexican and Anglo) and HIV/STD infections in southern California. In: G. Herdt, ed., Sexual cultures and migration in the era of AIDS: Anthropological and demographic perspectives (pp. 225-250). Oxford: Clarendon Press; Chittick, J. B. 1997. The threat of HIV/AIDS on Viet Nam’s youth: Meeting the challenge of prevention (A report on the 1996 Viet Nam Youth Union Conference with additional commentary on the Government’s approach to the teen AIDS epidemic in 1997). Boston: (Unpublished). Commission of Enquiry of the League of Nations, 1933; Cooper, M., & Hanson, J. 1998. Where there are no tourists ... yet:

A visit to the slum brothels in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In: M. Oppermann, ed., Sex tourism and prostitution: Aspects of leisure, recreation, and work (pp. 144-152). New York: Cognizant Communication; Cultural Information Analysis Center, American University. 1966. Minority groups in the Republic of Vietnam. Washington, DC: Headquarters, Dept. of the Army; Do, T. 1997. Popular Religion in contemporary southern Vietnam: A personal approach. Sojourn, 12(1):64-91; Fahey, S. 1998. Vietnam’s women in the Renovation Era. In: K. Sen & M. Stivens, eds., Gender and power in affluent Asia (pp. 222-249). London/New York: Routledge; "Frank." 2000. On the legality of homosexuality in Vietnam. [WWW document] http://www.utopia-asia.com/vietterm.htm (The VN-GBLF E-Mail Forum); Franklin, B. 1993. The risk of AIDS in Vietnam (Monograph Series 1). Hanoi: Care International in Vietnam; Gammeltoft, T. 1999. Women’s bodies, women’s worries. Health and family planning in a Vietnamese rural community. Richmond, VA: Curzon Press; Goodkind, D. 1994 (November/December). Abortion in Vietnam: Measurements, puzzles, and concerns (Pt. 1). Studies in Family Planning, 25(6):342-352; Goodkind, D. M. 1995 (March). Vietnam’s one-or-two-child policy in action. Population and Development Review, 21(1):85-111, 217-218, 220; Goodkind, D. 1996. State agendas, local sentiments: Vietnamese wedding practices amidst socialist transformations. Social Forces, 75(2):717-742; Goodkind, D. 1997 (Spring). The Vietnamese double marriage squeeze. International Migration Review, 31(1):108-27; Goodkind, D., & Anh, P. T. 1997 (December). Reasons for rising condom use in Vietnam. International Family Planning Perspectives, 23(4):173-178; Greenberg, J. H. 1972. Venereal disease in the armed forces. Medical Clinics of North America, 56(5):1087-1100; Gregersen, E. 1996. The world of human sexuality. New York: Irvington Publishers; Guénel, A. 1997. Sexually transmitted diseases in Vietnam and Cambodia since the French Colonial Period. In: M. Lewis, S. Bamber, & M. Waugh, eds., Sex, disease, and society. A comparative history of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (pp. 139-153). Westport, CT/London: Greenwood Press; Gulzow, M. & Mitchell, C. 1980 (October). "Vagina dentate" and "incurable venereal disease" legends from the Vietnam war. Western Folklore. 39:306-316; Hickey, G. C. 1982a. Sons of the mountains: Ethnohistory of the Vietnamese Central Highlands to 1954. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press; Hickey, G. C. 1982b. Free in the forest: Ethnohistory of the Vietnamese Central Highlands, 1954-1976. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press; Hoang Ba Thinh. 1992. Œsai Lech Trong Quan He Tinh Cam Khac Gioi Trong Sinh Vien: Bieu Hien, Nguyen Nhan Va Kien Nghi. Ky Yeu Hoi Thao Khoa Hoc "Doi Moi Cac Chinh Sach Xa Hoi Nham Khac Phuc Te Nam Xa Hoi Trong Dieu Kien Kinh Te Thi Truong." Bo Noi Vu [Hanoi University]; Hoang, B. T. 1999.

Sexual exploitation of children. Hanoi: The Gioi Publishers; Hoang, B. & Ngoc, P. K. 1996. Teen-age sexuality in Vietnam. Vietnam Social Sciences, 6(56):57-69; Joyeux, B. 1930. Le péril vénérien et la prostitution a Hanoi. Hanoi: Imprimerie d’Extrême-Orient; Karim, W. J. 1995. Bilaterism and gender in Southeast Asia. In: W. J. Karim, ed., "Male" and "female" in developing Southeast Asia (pp. 35-74). Oxford/Washington, DC: Berg Publishers; Khuat Thu Hong. 1998. Study on sexuality in Vietnam: The known and unknown issues (South & East Asia Regional Working Papers No. 11). Hanoi: Population Council; Lebar, F. M., Hickey, G. C., & Musgrave, J. K. 1964. Ethnic groups of mainland Southeast Asia. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files Press; Mackay, J. 2000. The Penguin atlas of human sexual behavior. Sexuality and sexual practice around the world. New York/London: Penguin Group; Marnais, P. 1967. Saigon after dark. New York: MacFadden-Bartell; Mole, R. L. 1970. The Montagnards of South Vietnam: A study of nine tribes. Rutland Vermont: C. E. Tuttle Co; Nguyen Huu Minh. 1997 (June). Age at first marriage in Viet Nam: Patterns and determinants. Asia-Pacific Population Journal, 12(2):49-74; Nguyen Ngoc Huy and Ta Van Tai. 1987. Le Code: Law in traditional Vietnam: A comparative Sino-Vietnamese legal study with historical-juridical analysis and annotations. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press; O’Harrow, S. 1995. Vietnamese women and Confucianism: Creating spaces from patriarchy. In: W. J. Karim, ed., "Male" and "female" in developing Southeast Asia (pp. 161-180). Oxford/Washington, DC: Berg Publishers; Pelzer White, C. 1987. State, culture and gender: Continuity and change in women’s position in rural Vietnam. In: H. Afshar, ed., Women, state, and ideology: Studies from Africa and Asia (pp. 226-234). Albany: State University of New York Press; Proschan, F. 1998. Filial piety and non-procreative male-to-male sex among Vietnamese. Unpublished paper presented at the Annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association; Proschan, F. 1999. "Syphilis, opiomania, and pederasty":

Colonial constructions of Vietnamese (and French) genders, sexualities, and social diseases. Unpublished article; Scholl-Latour, P. 2000. Der Tod im Reisfeld. Dreißig Jahre Krieg in Indochina. München, Germany: DTV; Slote, W. H., & DeVos, G. A., eds. 1998. Confucianism and the family. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press; Taylor, R. 1997. The innocent. Santa Barbara, CA: Fithian Press; Truong, T. D. 1990. Sex, money, and morality: Prostitution and tourism in Southeast Asia. London: Atlantic Highlands; New York: Zed Books; "Vinh N." 1999. Vietnamese terms for homosexuality. [WWW document] http://www.utopia-asia.com/vietterm.htm (The VN-GBLF E-Mail Forum); WHO (World Health Organization), Western Pacific Regional Office. 1993. Le SIDA dans la région du Pacifique occidental. Manila: WHO; Wijeyewardene, G., ed. 1990. Ethnic groups across national boundaries in mainland Southeast Asia. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies; X., Jacobus [as "A French Army-Surgeon"]. 1898. Untrodden Fields of Anthropology by a French Army Surgeon; Observations on the Esoteric Manners and Customs of Semi-Civilized Peoples; Being a Record of Thirty Years Experience in Asia, Africa, America and Oceania (Two volumes). Paris: Librairie de Médicine, Folklore et Anthropologie. [Second, enlarged English edition of L’Amour aux colonies, 1893; a facsimile edition was published by Robert F. Krieger Publishing Company, Huntington, NY, in 1972]; Young, S. B. 1998. The Orthodox Chinese Confucian social paradigm versus Vietnamese individualism (pp. 137-161). In: W. H. Slote & G. A. DeVos, eds., Confucianism and the family. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.http://www.vietnam-culture.com/http://patrick.guenin2.free.fr/cantho/page/news06.htm

Page Top

© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2014

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of country or topic discussed in the article. This constitutes 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you are the copyright owner and would like this content removed from factsanddetails.com, please contact me.