Okay, I lied in the title. The monk didn’t exactly offer Obama a son, but he “urged [Obama] to pray to a certain statue if he’d like to have a son.” Because, you know, what kind of loser doesn’t have a son to preserve his blood?
What I find particularly arresting about this offer is that it was not a slip of the tongue. Obama’s visit Vietnam was announced in Feb and I imagined his itinerary was probably not made last minute. The monk must have known that he was going to meet the President days, if not weeks or months, in advance.
“OMG I’m gonna meet the President,” our monk must have thought. “I knew that years of eating faux meat and not having sex would pay off.” He must have spent so many hours brushing up his English and thinking about what he was going to say to impress one of the most powerful men in the world. He probably called up his counsel of learned men to discuss the idea with them.
“Can you talk about the heritage of the pagoda?”
“Nope, too hackneyed.”
“Freedom of religion in Vietnam?”
“Nah, the police are watching.”
“How about just some good old touring of the temple?”
“Are you kidding me? That’s the President of the US of A we are talking about. I must give him something he doesn’t have, something he so desires, something that no one else can give him but me, something that if he doesn’t have, he wouldn’t be a man.”
“A son! He has only two daughters, and you know, daughters are just wild geese. They fly away when they grow up.”
His team of counsellors must have gone “wow” and our monk must be thinking he was hella fly.
And when the day came, before the observing eyes of the world media, he said it. He said exactly what was needed to be said: a phrase that sums up thousand of years of sexism and bigotry in our beloved little country. Having been under the light of Confucianism for thousands of years, of course we are sexist. We have these sayings:
“A woman ruler is like a hen crowing.” (Looking at you, Hillary Clinton)
“There are three un-filial acts: the greatest of these is the failure to produce sons.” (No offense, Michelle Obama)
“A woman should look on her husband as if he were Heaven itself, and ever weary of thinking how she may yield to him.” (That’s totally how I will treat my future husband)
Obama, after considering the offer for a second, replied ‘I like daughters’.