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.
No! I became a single mom because that’s the only choice I had at that time. I didn’t get married with the father of my son, because I’m not in love with him anymore. I know nowadays, many Vietnamese girls get pressured from the society and family that they have to choose a certain career path. They have to get married at a certain age. They have to have a child at a certain age, spend a certain time with their family.
But then I think men get the same pressure. Are there many men here? Do you have pressures to have a career path, get married and have children? It’s not that women have the pressure, everyone can get that pressure.
So go back, I’m sorry if you hurry and settle down with some wrong partner. It’s your fault, it’s not because you’re a woman in Vietnam. No! Because go back to my life, I did everything for myself, not only because I’m a woman, but let’s say you’re a strong woman already, and you want to fight for feminism.
You want to become a feminist, and you try to show to the world, as the pop stars that you watch in media. You want to show that you can travel the world, you’re successful. You can do anything without a man. You can fix your car. But let’s say if you’re very successful in your fight, then where you’re going to be.
There’re only 2 scripts for feminists. You would end up alone because that’s what you ask for. You don’t need a man or you don’t need a woman. I think that’s pretty sad, all of us need someone. Even the strongest man or woman would love to have somebody next to them.
And I think it’s pretty sad if you end up just by yourself, because you keep giving a statement for your whole life that you’re independent and you don’t need anyone.
The second script is you try to punish men and then force men to go through what you’ve been through. Have you heard of Mensiety? Anyone, have you heard of Mensiety? So it’s when men feel very anxious because around them there’re so many suddenly so many powerful, independent women. So he worries, like, “One day I’m going to lose my own power.” Anyone of you ever get through this feeling? Good! Good! Because deep down honestly I believe a real man, shouldn’t be thinking that way.
Shouldn’t look at women as the threat. That’s very different from women because women think any men’s problems are for men. But men, I don’t think they care much about feminist or you know how strong, because they would love that, but let’s see one day, the world is flipped. Our men suddenly don’t have to go to work anymore. I think they’ll love it.
I just heard the man and he brings that idea of doing nothing for 10 minutes. I’m sorry but that’s a men’s world. Men have a box in their brains, the empty box. Women cannot do that, when we do nothing, we paint our nails, we’re thinking about what to do next, who to call to talk to. We don’t do nothing, so I think men would love there’s a world that they can stay home, put some toys to the kids, play games all day, watch TV and then wash dishes when the wife came home.
So, but for me as a woman, I don’t like to see that scene. It’s a little bit silly for me. If I go home, I see my man washing dishes. And then I have to go out and fix our car. I don’t think that’s the script any women wants.
And feminists, I don’t think you’d feel happier with that scene. Are you happier? OK! In that case, this morning I was surprised. I’m not going to point out the person who that is. I just know a couple who are the ambassadors, and the lady, just yesterday – and they said they would attend the TED talk. They talked to each other; they said only one of them could attend the talk. And the first thing in my mind is, of course, this ambassador, of course, the man is going to be at the talk and the lady is going to stay at home and take care of the kids.
And then who came up today? The lady! So just a little example to say that there’s many things that could change and many different concepts but at the same time I’d like to say, if you want to become a feminist, that’s your choice. If you don’t want to become a feminist, that’s your choice too. But make sure that’s your choice!
Look back at my life a little bit, the other day my boyfriend said, “I think you should spend more time with your kids.” I was very sad, very pissed and I came up to him and said, “I’m sorry, I’m a mom to my son but at the same time I’m the man in the family. And at the same time I’m myself, I need my morning coffee, I need my little alone time.”
Some time I could travel by myself but that’s mean, and I don’t want that conflict with a man, mother or a father, a man who work everyday. So be anyone that you want to be. I think there’s no definition that you should become or the media lead you to be. Can be strong, can be feminist but make sure, that’s you.
And as a woman I think the most powerful woman is someone know that you’re soft, know that you’re weak, know that sometimes you need somebody around you, know that you can cry and show your emotion.
One line, one sentence I really like “The secret of happiness is no secret! So be happy, be yourself!”