I think there is certain expectation of Lao woman, an expectation for her to be traditional regardless of how far we’ve come in civilization, there is still that tradition that bonds her and makes her somewhat of a traditional classic in my opinion. One of my male friends once said, “I once heard, ‘a good woman is like a diamond in the rough, she just needs a little polishing to shine.’” When I first heard this, I disagree and I though it was just me, so I asked two of my American co-workers, and as soon as they heard the statement, they both made a face. I guess we all thought that it was an inappropriate statement to be used with woman. I think if she is going to shine, she doesn’t need any polish because she shines from within.
The phrase is clearly a metaphor for the original unpolished state of diamond gemstones, especially those that have the potential to become high quality jewels. It is more commonly expressed in the form ‘rough diamond’. The first recorded use in print is in John Fletcher’s A Wife for a Month, 1624: “She is very honest, and will be as hard to cut as a rough diamond.”
However, the term ‘a diamond in the rough’ has a somewhat of a different meaning, it is referred to someone who is basically good hearted but lacking social graces and respect for the law. In this case, it should not be used, and referred to a woman as ‘a diamond in the rough.’ I know I wouldn’t like it if someone were to call me this. I’m wondering how other females feel about this?
When I translated an article, Sayo Laos Magazine, I realized that the owner, Ardina Mahavong is somewhat of a modern classic Lao woman, with high self-confident that is living in the digital world. She is a working “Laos” woman that’s juggling between import and export, magazine and television. She was born and raised in Vientiane, Laos, and is of mixed Lao-Pakistan descent, growing up in the modern society of Lao Muslim. You can read more about her career here.
A question was asked if she would use her median of magazine and television to improve the livelihood of Lao women, her humble replied,
“I would not dare use the word ‘improve’ but I would like to use the term ‘introduce’ instead because I want the world to know of what is a Lao woman. I am still very young, lacking experiences, and would not dare to improve anyone, if anything, I need to improve myself first, but I do like to introduce new ways of doing things to Lao women.
Of course, a typical Lao woman living in Laos (in a figure of ‘Lao’ speaking) has to feed her husband, she has to raise her children till they’re grown, she has to keep her house in order, she has to be obedient, she has to have good memory, and she has to be thrifty…this is a Lao woman. When you visit the morning (super) market, most of the times you would see female merchants, or sales lady, once she is done with her work at the end of the day, she then comes home to prepare evening meal for the family, she has to purchase clothes for her husband, and her children…this is a Lao woman.”