“Women are Stronger Than Men”: Breaking Norms Through Hip Hop in Vietnam



This paper examines women’s motivations for engaging in men-dominated hip hop dance in urban Vietnam, arguing that it is the kinesthesia that draws the young women into hip hop. Dancing is a resource of joy and confidence for the women dancers studied. Yet, the playfulness and creativity of dance should not obscure the hard bodily work the women dancers invest in order to attain their unique style. In addition, joining a dance class or crew practice late at night often requires confronting parental concerns about their daughters’ safety and ideas about what constitutes a good career.

Examining the socio-political implications of young women’s decisions to become and be hip hop artists, the paper argues that their (gendered) performance is evaluated differently across different value regimes, depending on the emplacement of their bodily practice. Family and kin might assess their lifestyle choice as breaking with prevailing gender norms, whereas their community of peers might appreciate the performance of gender bending as a sign of virtuosity and a marker of unique style. 

Author Biography

Sandra Kurfürst , Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Cologne

Sandra Kurfürst is a professor at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Cologne. She acquired her PhD in Southeast Asian Studies from the University of Passau in 2011. Her research interests include urbanism, youth and gender in Southeast Asia. Apart from her academic interest in hip hop, she is a lover of rap and hip hop dance herself.



2022-11-07 — Updated on 2022-11-20