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Finding the Dragon Lady
"Deeply intriguing...one hell of a story." - Daily Beast
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Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled had she been a man?

Created: 10/07/14

Replies: 13

Posted Oct. 07, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1358

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Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled had she been a man?

Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled by Americans and her fellow countrymen had she been a man?


Posted Oct. 27, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janeh

Join Date: 06/15/11

Posts: 158

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RE: Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled had she been a man?

Interesting question -- was the animosity toward her MORE than it was toward the two men involved in leadership? From what was presented in the book, I don't think so. I think they were a package deal --- people didn't revile her any more than them. Maybe that's because they didn't realize or expect her to be wielding power on the same level the men were? Maybe afterwards when she escaped and they didn't? I think in this country, she would definitely have been the more hated, simply because she was a woman and many people are still uncomfortable with women in positions of leadership. I think women candidates for leadership positions in our country are more heavily scrutinized and made light of than are men. More discussion on "bitchiness" rather than "strength". I would have thought an Asian woman would be even more reviled, especially during the '60's. From reading this author's account, it doesn't seem so?


Posted Oct. 28, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
juliaa

Join Date: 12/03/11

Posts: 160

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RE: Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled had she been a man?

I have struggled with this question since reading the book. As Jane said, women in positions of power come under much more scrutiny than men, even today, long after first-wave and second-wave feminism have resulted in gains for women. Back then, any woman with power--or "power behind the throne" would have been highly criticized. If she had been a man, she would not have been characterized as the male equivalent of "Dragon Lady," if there even is such an equivalent. She was driven by the need for power and control, but such motivations were not "acceptable" for women in the 1950s and most of the 60s. But we cannot set aside the probability that she was motivated more by personal than by altruistic desires.


Posted Oct. 28, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

Posts: 397

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RE: Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled had she been a man?

I am with juliaa in thinking she was always more interested in establishing her own personal importance and not really feeling any particular fondness for her countrymen. Her projects, trips and contacts were all about making her look good and important and influential. Most of the people who knew her well were not particularly impressed with her and most of the press people of the time thought her a manipulator which of course influenced their reporting about her and was what lead to her being reviled. She was probably more reviled than a man in the same situation but she certainly brought a lot of it down on herself with her very sharp tongue and autocratic manner.


Posted Oct. 29, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alycet

Join Date: 04/23/12

Posts: 77

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RE: Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled had she been a man?

She was in the US before we had "boots on the ground" At that time she was treated as a celebrity. People here vied for her attention and company. It was after she went to Europe and we had some many casualties in Vietnam that she started getting bad press. Everyone else was dead, so all the blame fell on her.


Posted Oct. 29, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
deeh

Join Date: 03/03/12

Posts: 171

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RE: Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled had she been a man?

Perhaps, but she would have been reviled for different reasons. A lot of the behaviors she exhibited would have been more acceptable in a man, but she/he would still have been viewed as distant and repressive and part of a corrupt regime.


Posted Oct. 30, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 310

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RE: Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled had she been a man?

I thought about this as soon as I read the anecdote about JFK calling Madame Nhu "a bitch." It is interesting that in 2014 there really isn't an equally instant dismissing term for a man. It is true for all of society: derogatory terms for immoral women but the guys are "studs" or "players." Men in power often hate women in power even more.


Posted Oct. 31, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
djn

Join Date: 05/19/11

Posts: 82

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RE: Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled had she been a man?

During this time it was more reviling to have a woman display such behavior. Remarks are kept more quiet today. Derogatory terms are not as accepted by either gender today as they were in the 60's. But women of "quality" didn't display such behavior.


Posted Oct. 31, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
terriej

Join Date: 07/28/11

Posts: 142

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RE: Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled had she been a man?

Today, I don't think being a man would have made a difference. In the 60s, a man would have gotten away with such vile comments - look at Lyndon Johnson.


Posted Nov. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pennyp

Join Date: 03/22/12

Posts: 278

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RE: Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled had she been a man?

I agree that acceptable women did not display the type of behavior that madam Nhu did, if a man had displayed this behavior he would not have been called the Dragon Man. He may have been accepted merely because he was the leader of a country. With the presence of all types of media, people of both sexes are being held more accountable as to what they say.


Posted Nov. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mal

Join Date: 09/09/13

Posts: 155

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RE: Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled had she been a man?

Madame would have been respected more, in my opinion. She probably would have been president.


Posted Nov. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
eunicev

Join Date: 10/25/14

Posts: 5

RE: Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled had she been a man?

I think Madame Nhu would have been the object of critizism if she had been a man, but I don't think she would have been so hated and blamed. Any Asian woman close to power in that era was held to a different standard (actually any women in that era were held to a different standard) of behavior. I found it very interesting that two American women journalists ( Marguerite Higgins and Clare Luce) not only befriended and defended her then but stepped in to help her personally after her husband was killed and she was stranded in the U.S. Both Higgins and Luce had experienced the wrath and criticism of the public and their peers as strong, outspoken powerful women. Both wrote articles defending her and Higgins coached Madame Nhu on how to soften her rhetoric. Perhaps they all were reviled because they opened admitted their desire for power! In men that quality is admired in women, reviled.


Posted Nov. 02, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mariannes

Join Date: 12/17/12

Posts: 206

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RE: Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled had she been a man?

I don't think Madame Nhu would have received nearly as much attention if she had been a man. I don't remember much about her, but I remember bright red lipstick, long fingernails and very high heels. The men were more nondescript by comparison.


Posted Nov. 06, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
N*Starr

Join Date: 03/13/14

Posts: 35

RE: Do you think Madame Nhu would have been as reviled had she been a man?

I like what Marrianes said, what if the question should be would we even know of her if she were a man? How we now feel about her is tainted by gender and gendered expectations, but would she have been notable if she were another of the many men?


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