Minh Thuy Ta – TEDx Talk TRANSCRIPT
When I was a teenager, I had my first boyfriend. He made a statement very clear from the first day that we dated, “No one can give you a ride home except me.”
After that, he beat me four times in three years we were together.
When we broke up, he still said, “No one could ever love you, as much as I do.” I kind of believed it too, you know, at least no one beat me that hard.
Later on, when I was still young and beautiful, there was a guy flirting and chasing me for months, sending me gifts. One day, he gave me a call, “I quit! I don’t think you like boys.”
When I was pregnant, people asked my friend, “What? We thought she was a lesbian!” And then they found out that I’m a single mom. And they’re like, “Ahh! Yes! She’s a lesbian.”
When I did my first casting for my TV host job in Vietnam TV, I did it pretty well, they called me and said, “You passed.” – Yayy! – “Now you can become our writer.” I was like, ” What?” Because your hair’s too short and your skin is too dark for being on TV.
But then three years after, after working very hard, I got my first talk show and they shut down my talk show for three months because I wore a nose pin. When I was writing my first book, a publisher came to me and said, “We only can publish your book if you change one detail in the first chapter.”
So in that chapter, the character had sex for the first time when she was 17. “Can you make it, 18?”
So that’s the story of my life and you know at the end I’ve still become a TV host, I’m still a single mom, I still have a boyfriend, clearly, not a lesbian at all and I still published my first book. But that draftily tells you a life of a Vietnamese women in Vietnam.
Sometimes you have to accept to be beaten by your boyfriend, you have to fall for anyone that’s rich, good-looking and go after you. You cannot have sex when you’re under 18. You cannot have a nose pin, dark skin or short hair. So simply you cannot look too different. But that’s just the first layer, there’s so many things under it.
There was a time I worked as a Vietnam ambassador for walk free in New York about human trafficking, raise awareness to stop human trafficking. And I interviewed few girls who are the victims of human trafficking.
So human trafficking means that you got sold by someone you know to China to become some stranger’s wife, to become sex slave. And then they’ve been fighting very very hard to get out of their prison. And you know what, after years finally they made it home to Vietnam.
They met their parents and their own parents abandoned them. They insult them for being such a bad daughter, being away from home for so long. And you know what is even funnier, if they walk around their village, they might bump into the guy that tricked them and sold them to China before, but couldn’t do anything about it.
Because in Vietnam if you stole a chicken and sold it, people might put you in jail, but if you tricked a girl and sold her, there’s no law yet. And sometimes, they have to stand to be sent to some shelter just to learn some skill, to get back to the community as a normal girl.
So imagine what they’ve been through. And I really admire them for doing all that it’s been many years, many centuries, and the history has an amazing example for you. I’m just a tiny person in Vietnam, and what I did is very tiny. I know there’s a bigger scale than that.
But go back to the talk today. Nowadays, I felt like feminism’s become a trend, and this trend is overrated. So, here’s the media world, and you will see all the faces, all the feminists, that they try to build these days in those superstar, all pop stars.
I got a chance to interview, Demi Lovato and Katy Perry. And they’re such soft women. There’s a time they have to be in rehab, very hard to get back to their real life.
And there’s time they felt they’re so chubby and they have to exercise a lot to get back to the image people used to see them. And Katy Perry, when she was in Vietnam, she was clumsy because she couldn’t find a good word to give a speech. So all that moments, but without being very close to them, there’s no way you could see.
All you see is this: the feminism, strong women. Media built such a strong image of the new women.
And now everything is overrated, if you look tough – you’re a feminist, if you’re successful in your career – you’re feminist. If you’re not married yet, you’re feminist or maybe something is wrong with you.
And then people like me suddenly become a role model for young women. They’d come to me and say “Thuy Minh – I want to be like you, I want to be strong, I want to be successful, I want to travel the world, I want to become a single mom like you.” You know I became a single mom, not because I wanted to give a statement of my own love life that I don’t need men.