VIOLETTA (Reuters) – Vietnamese women wear colourful outfits, sometimes with an eye towards a more serious target, but many say they are also interested in clothing that looks “soulful” and “savage” and have a strong sense of individuality.
In the first of a series of articles published on Friday, New Scientist sought to define what women’s clothes in Vietnam, a communist country of 20 million people, mean to them.
The articles explore the themes of clothing and culture as part of a wider inquiry into women’s lives in a country that is often considered a “rape capital” by international standards.
Women’s clothing is often an integral part of the Vietnamese experience, said Sarah-Kate Green, a doctoral student at Yale University and the author of the New Scientist article.
For Vietnamese women, it is a way to express themselves in a way that is not limited to what they wear, said Green, who is also the author, with her husband, of The Vogue Guide to Vietnam: The World’s Greatest Women’s Clothing.
“It’s also about what you want to be seen as, and it’s about what kind of clothes you wear,” she said.
“When you are dressed in a certain way, it can be a way of asserting yourself in a society that is very patriarchal and patriarchal.”
And when you wear a certain kind of clothing, it makes you feel that you are a part of that society.
“Vietnam is often seen as a country of high poverty, but in a survey conducted by the International Crisis Group in 2016, 70 percent of respondents said they had a positive attitude toward their country.”
We have been very fortunate,” said Pham Thi Trong, director of the Vietnam Women’s Foundation, a national women’s rights group.”
In Vietnam, we have a very open society, and women’s participation in the workforce is very high.””
I am not ashamed of my heritage,” said Chua Anh Trong Nguyen, the granddaughter of a veteran communist politician.”
I do not want to show any kind of weakness,” she added.
The article looks at the ways in which women’s freedom has been restricted in Vietnam.
The country’s top political leaders have been outspoken about the importance of the Communist Party to society and women, but the government has also been reluctant to make any major changes to the gender roles that govern society.
Some people, like Nguyen, are concerned that changing the political and social landscape will only make things worse.”
It is very important for women in a lot of ways to have that opportunity,” said Trong.”
And then you have these women who are working as prostitutes.”
“It is very important for women in a lot of ways to have that opportunity,” said Trong.
The Vogue guide also highlights a few of the “silly” outfits that have made their way onto the shelves of department stores and on social media.
Vietnamese men often wear trousers with long skirts, and the Vogue article said the country’s most popular men’s clothing brand is a “sassy” one called G.I.H.G.C. (Gang of Hands), which is owned by the Vietnamese government.
Gang members wear long, button-up shirts with long sleeves, which are usually worn by young men.
“If you have a long sleeve shirt with a big button, the boys will look at you like you are crazy,” Green said.
But women’s fashion has been changing in the past few years, she said, with the Vietnamese fashion scene shifting to a more feminine image.
“Women are taking on a more independent role in the society,” said Anh Quang Thanh, who teaches in the university’s department of sociology.
“Now they are going out to dance.
They are wearing designer clothes.
I see a lot more women on the street, and I see more women wearing designer clothing.”
Women are also becoming more independent in the military, Thanh said, and more interested in joining the military themselves.
The Vietnamese government is also trying to make some of the changes in society, such as creating a national “Women’s Army” that will focus on women’s liberation and gender equality.
“There are also a lot fewer women working in the country,” Thanh added.
“They have to be trained, and they have to go to school and they are expected to work, too.”
“If women have a voice, they will be heard,” said Thanh.
“So the future of Vietnam is going to be much brighter for women.”
(Reporting by Nelba Tumleng; Editing by John Biskind)