sarahm sarahm posted August 5th, 2011 at 8:03 am to Etiquette. Viewed 1365 times. Answered 22 times.

So my toddler son has put up with 2 years of having his privates pinched and grabbed by complete strangers in the street. What's with this?? At first I though it was a way of determining gender (dressing him in blue and brown doesn't seem to be clear enough). I know this odd behaviour has been inflicted on other Western boys too, and have heard rumours that it's some kind of good luck charm. Huh??

Is it only boys who have to go through this indignity, and is it only foreign boys?

Please can somebody enlighten me, before the next person who does it gets their own bollocking in return.

Last answered by Gentlestar about 16 months ago.

Answers (jump to newest answer)

Grant wrote on August 5th, 2011 at 9:21 am
Grant (elite user)


Go here:

About halfway down the page Pippasweetie started a discussion on just this issue. There was a thread about it before but stuffed if I can find it. Actually gave up searching pretty quickly as using key words to search for this topic is sort of creepy.


Guillaume74 wrote on August 5th, 2011 at 11:43 am

@ Grant: Hahaha!! That last sentence is hilarious!

@ Sarahm: Sorry, I realise this is not helpful, but I had to comment on Grant's answer... So far the biggest laugh on TNH for me :)
Seriously though, yes, baffling...

QUYDA wrote on August 5th, 2011 at 12:04 pm

We do it all the time, I dont know what's with it too.
But I guess in this gender-inequality countries like ours, it's a big deal to have a BOY, so touching the private parts is like gender determining and blessing (have a big one boy, haha) kinda stuff.

I heard a story from my friend who spent 8 years in UK about the case of a VNese guy touched a baby boy,and was sentenced for a few years in jail, he's no pedophile, a few VNese was testify to tell judge about VNese cultural and stuff but still...:-D

QUYDA wrote on August 5th, 2011 at 3:48 pm

One more thing, Baby Genital in Viet is called "Chim" as some of you VNese learner may notice, it also means "Bird" (cock in your language:D).
So ppl (normally neighbor, not strangers) often appoach little boys and "check to see if the 'bird' flies away or still there" or "show me your bird"

pippasweetie wrote on August 5th, 2011 at 9:12 pm
pippasweetie (elite user)

Sarah it gets much worse when the child is a little older and able to understand more than just being touched by a stranger ie. being touched on his 'private parts' by a stranger.

All of my boy children have suffered from this.

I understand it is generally accepted as OK here, but it is not Ok to touch someone else's kids genitals, (particularly from different culture) for any reason.

pippasweetie wrote on August 5th, 2011 at 9:17 pm
pippasweetie (elite user)

And by the way, when we lived in the regions -while I was protecting my child- my friend, an older lady, did give the perpetrator a "bollocking". The man just giggled, but didn't seem upset.

Klokker wrote on August 6th, 2011 at 5:51 am

It's not just kids it happens to - a friend of mine, a fully grown late 20's male, had a random guy grab his junk in Big C one day while he was trying on belts.

The groin-grabber then scurried away whilst my friend was left somewhat shocked.

I understand that it's quite a touchy-feely culture here - I often see my students hugging or touching each other whilst doing their classwork, but I still find the idea of grabbing someones balls (especially a childs) quite uncomfortable - I'm curious as to what reaction would be given if a Tay did this to a Vietnamese child.

Perhaps it's just part of the "cultural sensitivity" that expats are expected to practice (and for the most part quite rightly so) but that is generally a one-sided courtesy.

QUYDA wrote on August 6th, 2011 at 10:13 am

@Klokker> In your friend's case, that could be a gay guy.
I dont know, we still do it with grown up (up to 30) but that's mostly done by grandpa.

I wouldnt let any guy grab mine:D

Ps. But you're spot on about student touching/hugging, again due to gender-inequality, male and female should not contact/touch each other, so that tradition carries on -> it's normal for males to come in contact, but it doesnt necessarily mean they're guy.

pippasweetie wrote on August 6th, 2011 at 4:48 pm
pippasweetie (elite user)

QUYDA you say you wouldn't let another guy touch yours-but I can tell you that it happens quickly and unexpectedly , so it's not a matter of "letting" a guy touch yours, they just do.

NickinNam wrote on August 6th, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Nope. Vietnam people are too "touchy" in general, except when you want them to be. The guy touchy thing feels very gay from this angle. The girl touchy thing, not enough and they freak the fric out when you kiss them hello or goodbye on the cheek. But the males are all over the Place with their hands.

Has freaked me out for years and i'm carrying a bat when I have a baby boy.

Agent004 wrote on August 6th, 2011 at 8:41 pm

The answer just hit me today and it was under my nose(or crotch) all this time. In the west we like to squeeze a child's cheek, as I do to all the children at my school because they're so adorable. It seems that instead of squeezing cheeks here, they squeeze crotches.

sarahm wrote on August 6th, 2011 at 11:31 pm

So apparently it is "normal" and common behaviour here, as grossly inappropriate as it is. But we still haven't got to the bottom (no pun intended) of why it is done?? If it is some kind of luck thing, is there more luck from a Western boy?

BabakSamdi wrote on August 7th, 2011 at 12:43 am

I was born in the Middle East. In our culture it is quiet common that neighborhood people test the private part s size of our young males.

Nishaven wrote on August 7th, 2011 at 7:54 am

I really don't think chim is a "private part" here in Vietnam.

- You will see babies in strollers with a hole cut out of their pants so their chim can get some air
- On the street, most mothers just pull down the baby's pants in public so they can go pee
- At home, an older sister will hold the brother's chim and make ssshhh sshhhh noises so he can pee in a cup
- Friends and family will talk openly about a new husband's chim, especially if he is a foreigner

From their point of view, it's just a normal body part that 50% of people have. What's so "private" about it?

Of course, in Western culture we teach our children this because of all the pervs, which I don't believe is the case here...

pippasweetie wrote on August 7th, 2011 at 5:48 pm
pippasweetie (elite user)

That may be so Nishaven, but I still believe touching other the body of non-family members would be inappropriate if they are older than a child.

What we need is someone to ask their relative Ba for us please, in the first instance - though men have done it to my kids and not just women- mostly women though.
The Ba may not even know why, just that it is done.

MonaPLe wrote on August 7th, 2011 at 9:18 pm

I'm laughing so hard because this just happened to my younger boy the other day: a granny, clearly smitten, reached out and grabbed. I did think it was to see if he was a boy, many people ask if he is a boy, now I know she was chim'ing.
It is really incredible how many people touch, fawn over, photograph, grab various parts of, my two boys. Clearly it is affection and fortunately clearly not perversion. You can see it in their faces. So I'd rather see strangers be affectionate with my son's right under my nose, and not try to lead them away to get them in private. Meanwhile, my education discourse is still : a stranger is a stranger is a stranger.

pippasweetie wrote on August 7th, 2011 at 9:23 pm
pippasweetie (elite user)

It must be more than finding out the sex of a child. My boys have been grabbed even after we told them they were boys!

Grant wrote on August 7th, 2011 at 10:14 pm
Grant (elite user)


Maybe it's a humiliation thing. Sort of grab the chance while they can. Although I do know of an individual who doesn't care what age you are...


vap3 wrote on September 24th, 2011 at 6:17 pm

[quote]Friends and family will talk openly about a new husband's chim, especially if he is a foreigner[/quote]

hahahahaha so much win

maliusmaximus wrote on September 27th, 2011 at 10:10 am
maliusmaximus (elite user)

When I first came here I saw a magic show where the magician said he was going to reach in to a young boy's pants and pull out his chim. He reached in to the kids shorts, and yanked out a live bird... The parents LOVED it.
This illustrates to me that it's simply a cultural difference, and the most we can do is show that it's offensive to us and should not be done to us as foreigners as we are deeply offended by it. We can't impose our values on Vietnamese though if they believe this is acceptable.

Grant wrote on September 28th, 2011 at 7:51 am
Grant (elite user)


Chim - little bird. Hope that helps. I don't really get it either.


clock iconThen Some Time Passed...
Gentlestar wrote on October 27th, 2017 at 1:00 am

Absolutely agree with MonaPLe. It would obviously be bad if, for example, some adult with sexual attraction to a kid took away your son to touch his crotch in secret, as he would obviously be up to no good, so it's good if he/she feels your son's penis right in front of you. Then you can watch the adult as he feels your son's genitals. This makes it clear to the adult that you are keeping an eye on him, and that you understand it's just a cultural thing, and that you encourage him to do it in front of you, and it makes it clear to the child that the situation is perfectly fine and there's nothing to worry about.

Obviously there is a risk if your son goes to a country where it's not common and he thinks it's acceptable in that country when it's really out of perverted desires in that other country, but he would be so used to his crotch being touched by adults by then that it wouldn't really matter if someone did it later in another country for sexual reasons, as your kid would be so used to adults touching his crotch.

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