Sexual Discourses on Female Bodies, Androcentric Biases, and Colonial Ideologies (Surveying Some Contemporary Vietnamese Prose After 1986)


Author: Le Quoc Hieu (Department of Literary Theory, Institute of Literature (IoL), Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences)
Speaker: Le Quoc Hieu
Topic: Language Ideologies
The GLOCAL CALA 2022 General Session


Abstract

From 1986 to the present, Vietnamese prose has shown the proliferation of many works exploiting women’s sexual instincts and desires to express subversive cultural discourses. Confucian ideologies’ profound influences on Vietnamese women are increasingly fading in contemporary Vietnamese sexual and gender practices. Women’s bodies and sexuality are represented directly by women’s deconstructive and subversive experiences of men’s female body objectification, toxic masculinities, and colonial ideologies. Since 1986, sexual and gender representations in contemporary Vietnamese prose shows an endeavor to escape from the protracted captivity of the socialist and revolutionary aesthetics that dominated the processes of literary creating, receiving, and circulation for such a long time (1945-1975), as well as resist colonizers’ dominant ideologies of colonial women’s body and sexuality. Furthermore, these representations also question the binary relationships between males and females, masculinity and feminity, colonizers and colonials, paving the way for dialogues, conflicts, deconstruction, and subversion of dominant sexual discourses on the female body androcentrism, and colonization. Based on analyzing the prose of contemporary Vietnamese writers (e.g., Võ Thị Hảo, Sương Nguyệt Minh, Y Ban, and Nguyễn Xuân Khánh), this article focuses on three sexual discourses set in colonial contexts and daily life, naming discourse on sexually indulging female bodies; androcentric (male-centredness) biases, and colonial ideologies. A theoretical framework such as postcolonial narratology and discourse theory is used.

Keywords: Contemporary vietnamese prose, Sexuality, Body, Feminism, Androcentrism, Post-colonial.