On Chinese Mothers (the now-infamous WSJ post)

13 Jan
OK. I’ve gotten this WSJ article about Chinese mothers multiple, multiple times from people. I really only have a couple thoughts. It’s incredibly stereotypical (the bad – to generalize I think is always harmful), but it does bring out detrimental points about “Generation Me” in which “self-esteem” and “being special” out-weigh quality of work and effort. On the other hand, I think we need to be careful not to conflate high grades with success.

Edit: I can’t speak to what Chua intended to write, but I do place responsibility on WSJ for being the publishing institution that allowed it to become public, and for allowing it to be framed in this way. The title makes me sick because it does two things – it reaffirms the stereotype, while reinforcing the constructed differences between races and cultures. It also undermines the Chinese Mothers “superiority” (really, the non-American superiority it purportedly lauds) because by placing it as the title, it invites the reader to take part in the spectacle of the “Chinese mother,” treating her as an “object,” and reinforces the fact that America is really not intimidated by “Chinese Mothers” (extrapolated to include all “Others”) because of an ingrained sense of white hegemony and superiority.

I think the only possible illuminating thing to come from it, as I said, is to question why we think “self-esteem” and “doing your best” and “being special” has become par for the course for our child-raising culture, and to ruminate on how detrimental it can be to society (see Jean Twenge’s “Generation Me”) and America’s standing in global competition.

Edit: From George Wang (this was originally a comment on my post on Facebook):

“Hear it from Chua herself – this is all on WSJ and their white lust for Asian female stereo-typing.

“As far as child-rearing goes, they absolutely should be pushed to be their best. Our culture routinely coddles kids too mich these days, producing lazy, incompetent, entitled whining citizens. We desperately need good old fashioned discipline, and personal responsibility and personal accountability.

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Posted by on January 13, 2011 in Uncategorized


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