Since the beginning of our existence, when people still lived in caves and wore animals’ skin, the mother, the woman, has always played the role of taking care and providing love for the family. This is not only true to the human race but all and every species on Earth, from the tiny spider mom that always carries its eggs with it to the intelligent orangutan that never lets go of its children. Being a mother the biggest and most sacred mission of a woman. However, through different periods of history and changes in society, the role of women changes as well, especially within their families. Some responsibilities remain throughout the time, some only existed for a period and some have recently appeared in our modern society. The role of Vietnamese women has changed compared to the past and is still changing every day as well.
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The reason I choose this topic is that the role of a Vietnamese woman in her family has changed significantly, partly because of the changes in the social settings as well as the views of people towards a woman. I want to discuss the responsibilities the female figures have had to carry, compare these responsibilities to what men have, and demonstrate how important the woman is in her family. Furthermore, by showing the roles of the woman, we can also observe the unfairness and the unfavorableness the women have and therefore, find possible ways to empower women, guide them to balance between their family and other aspects of life. We will look through three different periods, discuss and analyze the jobs women have in families.
The first period that we will look at is feudalism. For a long history, Vietnamese women have been known for being the main supporter of the family. During feudalism, they were dutiful wives. Not only did they take care of the husband and the children; they also looked after old grandparents from both sides of the family. They were dedicated providers for the family by working hard. However, because of the harsh old-fashioned regime, they were the outsiders of the family. Everything they did was just to support the husbands, leaving them not having a voice in the family. Moreover, back then, marriages were mainly the arrangement between two families, women didn’t have a chance to choose whom to marry. If they were lucky, they would end up with a good man and have a decent marriage; otherwise, their life would suffer a loveless marriage with an abusive and lazy man. The reason for the distress of women was due to male chauvinism and polygamy. Women did not have a chance for self-development and finding success, instead, they were stuck not having an adequate position in both the family and the society, only to be shaped by the standards of the outdated perception.
Not until the war did the potentials and the strength of women come out of the shell. During this period, women showed that they were capable of handling family business as well as completing their duties to the country. Numerous heroic women, like Nguyen Thi Minh Khai or Vo Thi Sau, were born, devoted their whole lives to the war, to fight for the sovereignty of the country. They sacrificed themselves on the battlefields and didn’t hesitate to pick up weapons and guns to combat against the enemies. There is a Vietnamese idiom dedicated to the bravery of the women during wartime, “Giặc đến nhà, đàn bà cũng đánh”, which means when invaders are threatening the country’s peace, women are not afraid to stand up and fight. However, not every woman went to the battle directly; instead, they were the backbones on the fields, in the factories, or the tunnels, no matters days or nights. They made sacrifices by spending their youth waiting for their husbands and sons to come back from the war, by being the sturdy emotional support, and by helping maintain the production of goods. These were the immeasurable sacrifices that nothing could replace. Without these women, they would not have won the war; they were the main factors that contributed to the victory of our country.
Fast forward to our modern life, as a wife, women are still being very supportive towards their husbands. They are still the rear for men, by always listening and understanding the pressure the society is weighing on their shoulders. They push men to be more ambitious, to follow their dreams, and to achieve goals. When there are struggles and obstacles, women help their husbands standstill on their feet and overcome challenges. With tenderness, faith, and love, many women have stood side by side with their husbands during sickness and during the darkest times in life, in their careers until their husband finally earned their success. A woman is a companion, a friend, and foremost, a wife that a man needs. As a mom, they patiently raise her children, physically, emotionally, and mentally. During the first few years of her child, she has to sacrifice her social life and her career to bring up her newborn, giving her child her whole time, to give her child the best living conditions. But it is not just that as she is also the guidance in her children’s lives. A mother is a role model for a child; she teaches them everything, from simple things such as how to use a spoon, how to hold a pen to how to be a good person, how to treat others with kindness and empathy. A mother is the very first teacher of a child. She is also a friend, who is always willing to listen to her children, always willing to help solve any problems her child is having. She is the most reliable person to her kids. However, the time has changed for now women are not the only ones who look after their families. Male chauvinism is long gone and men are not hesitant to share the housework with women. It is not rare to find a man who does the washing up or cleaning up for his wife. A lot of husbands now take the task of helping their kids do the homework, not to mention there are stay-at-home dads. Thanks to the change of people’s perspective towards a woman’s duties, more and more women have had a chance to pursue their dreams, their careers, and develop themselves. It could be said now this is the time for women; they are showing us their best, for being a loving wife, a devoted mother, and a self-driven woman.
The most suitable explanation for the development of a woman’s role in the family must be the influence of other cultures. In the past, due to the invasion from the Northern colonies, patriarchy was spread in the society, causing injustice for women. Periods after periods, we started to have more association with Western cultures. We got to see other behaviors towards women and other movements of women, people got more open-minded and they no longer forced women to be one exact type with only one mission, was only to take care of her family.
In conclusion, the position of a woman in her family has been through a long journey, from being a supportive housewife to a self-motivated woman yet still a caring mother and wife. Even though not every woman has had the opportunity to be heard, to develop herself within her family; everyone, including the governments, individuals, and organizations, is trying to educate them, help them realize their rights, and empower them, especially when there are still women suffering from domestic abuse. I have a firm belief that the role of a woman in the family is changing every day, and soon, more and more women will become the backbone of their family, trying their best to provide their family not only with finance but also care and love.