HYI Working Paper Series: Tran Thi Phuong Hoa
Urban Women: education, hygiene, feminine hygiene products and the Emerging Commodity Market in Early Twentieth-Century Tonkin (Tran Thi Phuong Hoa, Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences)
Abstract: This paper will examine the intersection of feminine identities and consumerism, focusing on the growing use of feminine hygiene products in colonial urban Tonkin. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Tonkinese women experienced changes in their daily life: the market for western products expanded, advertisements targeted at women grew, schools delivered hygiene lessons, household incomes increased, and urban homes provided sanitation facilities and private space for women. When feminine hygiene products such as soap, cosmetics became popular by mid 1930s, manufactured feminine hygiene napkins were hardly accessible to local women. In traditional Vietnamese society, women typically dealt with menstruation through confinement and isolation, which was still observed in the first half of the twentieth century. Drawing on interviews and a few publications, I try to look at the feminine consuming behaviors from the socio-cultural and historical perspectives, which I use as the main approach to present the relationship of women and consumption in colonial Tonkin.