Influences on Vietnamese Men: Examining Traditional Gender Roles, the Refugee Experience, Acculturation, and Racism in the United States

By Nghe, Linh T.; Mahalik, James R. et al. | Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, October 2003 | Go to article overview

Influences on Vietnamese Men: Examining Traditional Gender Roles, the Refugee Experience, Acculturation, and Racism in the United States


Nghe, Linh T., Mahalik, James R., Lowe, Susana M., Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development


The authors have attempted to increase counselors' understanding of Vietnamese men in the U.S. by discussing masculine gender role socialization influences from Vietnamese culture, including the ritual of nhau (a ritual of male bending through binge drinking). The authors also provided a gendered context to the refugee experience, acculturation issues, and experiences of racism in the U.S.

Los autores tratan de aumentar el entendimiento de consejeros de los hombres vietnamitas en Estados Unidos. Hacen esto por medio de una discusion de las influencias de la cultura vietnamita sobre la socializacion de los roles de genero masculino, incluyendo el ritual de nhau (un ritual de crear vinculos entre hombres por medio de emborrachamiento). Los autores tambien proveen un ambito del genero para la experiencia de los refugiados, la cuestion de la aculturacion, y las experiencias de racismo en Estados Unidos.

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To understand gender role issues for Asian American men means to understand traditional Asian masculinity development, acculturation and ethnic identity, immigration history, the dominant culture's masculinity ideals, and Asian American men's experiences with racism in the United States. Although psychology has focused on Asians and Asian Americans generally (Kim, O'Neil, & Owen, 1996; Lazur & Majors, 1995; D. Sue, 1990), a relatively new, but fast growing, demographic group in the United States of Vietnamese and Vietnamese Americans has been somewhat neglected by psychology to date. Although this group shares much of the cultural background of other Asians, as well as experiences of racism in the United States and acculturation challenges, Vietnamese persons have their own cultural heritage interwoven with legacies of colonization, war, and exodus as refugees.

The purpose of this article is to inform culturally sensitive counseling with Vietnamese men by identifying specific influences on their masculine identity development and experiences in the United States that are specifically related to their gender. To do so, in the first part of the article we discuss masculine socialization influences on Vietnamese men, highlighting both those experiences that are shared with other Asian men and those that are unique Vietnamese traditions for men. Next, we examine Vietnamese refugee experiences, focusing on trauma, acculturation, and racism in the United States and how these experiences specifically affect Vietnamese men. Finally, we address therapeutic issues for counselors who work with Vietnamese men and their families focusing on issues that result from gender socialization and the experiences of these individuals in the United States.

masculine socialization influences on vietnamese men

Some gender socialization influences on Vietnamese men are similar to those experienced by men in other Asian cultures. Similarities in gender role socialization that Vietnamese men share with other Asian men arising from shared influences of Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist philosophies (Tung, 1972) include messages about appropriate family roles, emotional expressiveness, and the role of assertive behavior. For example, in general, family roles tend to be structured such that older generations are given elevated status, men are accorded a higher status as compared with that of women, and the father is the dominant member of the household and has unquestioned authority (D. Sue & Sue, 1993, D. W. Sue & Sue, 1999). These gender scripts place men in the position of power and authority in the family; the differentiated status between the genders is evident in the type of work (e.g., father is the breadwinner, providing for the physical needs of his family) and educational expectations that family members experience (e.g., boys are socialized to be highly educated, whereas girls are socialized to be domesticated so that the husband's status is higher than the wife's on all levels; Uba, 1994). …

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