This post may not be appropriate for young cousins, just FYI. Not graphic. But might result in a lot of unwanted explaining about grown-up stuff. And with THAT intro:
Quan, our guide, has by now gotten used to my many questions about life in urban and rural Vietnam, and has in fact begun to offer quite a bit of information that he thinks I’ll find interesting. On the long and windy road to Mai Chau, he talked about the ethnic minorities of Vietnam (54 different groups, all with different religious, social, architectural, and stylistic traditions) and their relationships with the government and one another, the extinct and extant fauna of Vietnam’s mountains, local cuisine (“bird soup” recommended; monkey not recommended), national politics, and, most intriguingly, birth control.
As we drove up into the higher passes, the clouds and sun descended. Lights switched on in the many storefronts and houses along the road, and through nearly every open front door we could see families attending to their dinners and their televisions. According to Quan, it’s only been in the past several years that the villages in this area have had reliable electricity at all. “At six it gets dark,” he said, “and night is very long. So, many childrens.”
Self-evident. Long night equals lots of kids, because, you know, what else do people have to do in the dark? And in terms of birth control, well… “The people from the city are shy about teaching condoms,” he told us. “So they show, and then the people in the villages do like they show. But still, so many childrens.” What happened? Condoms elsewhere in the world are known as effective birth control as well as disease prevention. They’re cost-effective and convenient, with no medical side effects. But, as Quan told us, the city-folk were shy about teaching condoms. “They show using fingers,” he said with a smirk, “and the people do like they show, just like that.”
Certainly not the most effective sex ed. Possibly worse than abstinence-only, which is really not a thing I ever thought I’d have to say. But wait! With the advent of village electricity and the subsequent invasion of television into the homes of rural Vietnamese, we expected a similar rise in sexual sophistication leading to better birth control and the current lower birth rate. Not so, according to Quan. It’s not that they have access to more information or more medical technology, it’s that they’re just too busy watching TV nowadays (apparently HBO is particularly popular) for the nights to be as long and the sex to be as good.
Game of Thrones as contraceptive; who knew?