P.S. You suck

Dear Amy Chua,

For the record, my parents allowed me to attend sleepovers.  They additionally hosted sleepovers at our house.  “Playdates” hadn’t yet been invented, but I spent an inordinate amount of time in the basement of my best friend’s house (and vice versa).  I had a part in the musical “Oliver.”  I complained that I did not get the lead.  My parents let me watch one television show a week.  I chose my own extracurricular activities for the most part.  Except language school, which I guess was sort of mandatory.  Except one of my sibs never went.  I’m not really sure why.   

I mostly got all A’s.  It was usually easy for me.  I was aware of the model minority stereotype, and had a good bit of fun with my Spanish teacher when she called for a conference and told me I had an exam average of 99.5 percent.  I moaned and promised to try harder in the future.  I don’t know how my parents wouldn’t “allow” me not to be the No. 1 student in every subject.   I also played an instrument.  My teacher was from a famous music conservatory.  He thought I was gifted.  I am pretty sure that is not true.

I am a genius.  I am successful.  Also, I have good self esteem.  My parents never told me I was lazy or fat. I’m pretty sure I was often lazy.

So fuck you, Amy Chua, for reinforcing that tired old model minority stereotype.  For speaking for an entire group of people and ascribing your abusive parenting to your culture.

(I have an in-law who had a horrific childhood with parents who were abusive.  By all accounts, he is a loving and gentle man.  He also has a Big Important Job and Great Big Impressive Degrees.  But I wouldn’t argue that his “success” demands you replicate his parents’ methods.  By the way, he’s white.)

Yeah, I have to say I sometimes bought into this  stereotype.  Despite the fact it went against what I know to be true.  I have taken a lot of time to unpack and disassemble this particular bullshit trope.  And yet I still found myself thinking, “His parents let him do what?” when I read about fashion designer Jason Wu.  He played with dolls as a kid, and his mother drove him to bridal salons so he could look at the dresses.

And fuck you again, Amy Chua, when I think about the high rates of suicides among Asian Americans, especially young women.  Fuck you for the fifty percent of crisis calls at the university from Asian American students.

Fuck you for every person who expresses surprise at my chosen profession.  Because we don’t do that.  Fuck you for all those people who interviewed me and marveled how they didn’t know any Asian Americans in that line of work.  Despite the fact I was sitting right in front of them.  Because obviously my parents should not have “allowed” me to enter my field.

Fuck you for the abuse kids get because their parents don’t know any better.

Fuck you for the kids who are made to feel like idiots because they are not geniuses.  Or musical prodigies.  Or the kids who are told that our people don’t speak out, don’t protest, aren’t politically active, aren’t activists.

Fuck you for making us think our parents aren’t proud of us.  (I saw Helen Zia and Lia Shigemura’s wedding video.  And I saw her mom beaming in the background.)

Fuck you for perpetuating racism.  And fuck the Wall Street Journal for promoting your majority view voice.

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49 thoughts on “P.S. You suck

  1. Well said. Fuck Ms. Chua’s attempt at internalized racist stereotype confirmation posing as racial pride. Her premises for this piece fall apart like ash under the slightest scrutiny.

  2. Standing up and applauding.
    I was horrified by Chua’s piece for countless reasons…but the two primary ones are : (1) my Asian child with learning disabilities, and (2) my Asian MIL, a brilliant early childhood educator, whose lifetime (even before immigrating to the U.S.) has been spent nurturing the best in children (her family and her students) by respecting them as individuals with unique gifts and needs.

    P.S. Nice page design – interesting contract to what you’ve chosen over the years.

  3. Wow. What a horrible woman. That article is insulting to white people, Chinese people, all the people she probably didn’t mean in her phrase “Western American mothers,” to fathers (who apparently don’t raise their children), to children…. Cheers to you for this good fuck-you letter to her.

  4. Hear hear! Thank you for this letter.

    And thanks for highlighting fashion designer, Jason Wu. I’m sick and tired of getting comments from other Asians who are surprised or disapproving when I say I’m in design. They assume I’m in commerce, or some other typical Asian-dominated field. Because Asians are not meant to be in art or design, because there’s “no money in it”, because only dimwits do that kind of thing. Chua’s article only perpetuates these insulting and detrimental perceptions. Great move, Amy Chua—way to make us all feel inferior (again).

  5. Pingback: The Wall Street Journal Explains “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” | Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

  6. Hear Hear! I am an Asian immigrant as well from a really horrible place in South East Asia. I used to do extremely well and got admitted into college around 16 and of course did “engineering”.

    But I quickly lost interest in anything academic or engineering and doing more “people stuff” – like organizing seminars on climate change etc. And my grades are just average these days but I find it so fulfilling and thankful that I didn’t trudge through college trying to get As. I found out I sucked at “science” as well – it was all aptitude for standard testing all along and found out that I was better at organizing and managing things..

    My point is, there really is no Asian/Non-Asian things – people are good at whatever they are good at and are passionate at whatever they are passionate at. Children should be allowed to see the vista of opportunities available in life and not just shown the narrow vision of whatever their parents only know. Some of us might not be lucky and do whatever they hate to do their whole life and missed what could make them truly happy while providing a livelihood. Children shouldn’t be denied that opportunity.

  7. I think the biggest and best “fuck you” of all are the awesome Asian (and every other minority) parents out there, raising their children to be the best “them” they can be-making sure they are encouraged, cultured and nurtured to be successful in life and healthy physically and emotionally.

    Stereotypes are shit, abuse is abuse and I cannot imagine a true culture that embraces it.

  8. I too am applauding your letter. Many of my thoughts and feelings have been expressed by you and others on the internet.

    @Psychobabbler, all hail us failed parents who have–in Professor Chua’s eyes–defective failing children because they suffer from learning disabilities.

    I feel badly for the girls when they become young women. I don’t know how they will emerge as independent, strong, wordly wise women if they have this “kyoikkumama”–see it isn’t just a Chinese thing–in their lives monitoring, even spying on, every step and misstep they take. Maybe they will be whole women, but lo I fear for the future generation, the grandchildren they will birth. They better match Grandma Chua’s expectations.

    What also troubles me about Professor’s Chua’s piece is the divisive tone, of splitting us Chinese versus you Westerners. Uh you are Chinese American, Professor Chua, and the culture war you are engaging in your own household, in your own marriage–she battles and proudly wages victorious over her western husband, Jed–are red flags.

  9. Thank you for your blog post. And, FU, Amy Chua, for endangering the mental health of your young daughters. They shall now welcome a lifetime of therapy.

  10. Chau was misguided, and this author is equally misguided. I don’t disagree that there are parents out there who may be less strict than these mothers that were described by Chau, I don’t disagree that the article is in poor taste, I don’t disagree that WSJ printing it is despicable (considering issues of race, ethnicity, and gender), in fact, I agree with many parts of the tirade of this author. However, they seem to forget that there are other things out there that ALSO have a hand in the suicides of Asian Americans. There are also other issues (ie. structural) that drive many parents (Asian or not) that lead to strict parenting. And just as Chau is being anecdotal, so is the author of this particular post. But I am personally more appalled at WSJ for printing that particular excerpt.

  11. VERY well said, from a Black woman in her 70s who went through her own version. I marvel that my parents [both professionals] supported me in whatever I wanted to do. The one expectation… college, but I was gently guided, not pushed or shoved.

  12. whoa, the anger in this post makes me think that this post is not really about amy chua. hope you get it figured out.

  13. While I will not agree or disagree with your points as I feel that both the “chinese” and “western” ways have their own merits, I find any counter-argument with the F-word immature and not worthy of consideration. The counter-argument can still be made very strongly without resort to vulgarities.

  14. Fuck you Amy Chua for making this God-forsaken stereotype stronger than ever. My entire freaking life, I was told I was nothing but a piece of garbage. My parents told me that if I were born in China, they would have left me to die in the mountains because I’m a female, and females are useless. I grew up with my parents beating the hell out of me for being bad, ugly, stupid, you name it. I got into one of the most elite high school in NYC, and it wasn’t enough. I went to an Ivy League university, and it wasn’t enough. I was offered a job right after graduation, and it wasn’t enough. I moved clear across the country, pay my own rent and can afford all the designer bags and shoes most woman can only dream of. And it wasn’t enough. To this very day, I still get lectured for at least an hour over the phone every weekend for being a worthless human being that will never get far in life because I’m neither a doctor, nor a lawyer. Fuck you Amy Chua and to every Asian parent out there that has made their children feel like crap. I’m sorry I never got to live your pathetic American Dream, and that I ruined your plans of living vicariously through me.

  15. I know I’m going to be chastised for this, but I strongly support some aspects of Ms. Chua’s article. I think children are a lot more resilient than parents give them credit for. While I think her notion of parenting is comically outlandish, her viewpoint of “westerners” is sadly on the mark in many cases. Honestly though, I think you can take out the ethnic arguments. There are certainly parents on both sides of the discipline spectrum and you can find diversity at any point along the scale.

    I strongly advocate being a pushy parent. Doing nothing can leave just as many emotional scars as hurting their feelings.

    That being said, bravo Resistance! That was a wonderful retort!

  16. O.M.G. It’s not often I use that but holy cow, this is an awesome response to such an incredibly distressing article.

    I have worked with a lot of child protection workers and what this woman describes in getting her daughter to learn a particular piece is abuse: no if, ands, or buts. No food, no water, no bathroom privileges?

    Thank you. I have a lot of multiple cultures in my family and we have seen and heard and challenged a lot of assumptions. I cannot believe this person thinks this is a successful parenting strategy. Based on my experience as an observer within my extended family, I can tell you it doesn’t work. She not only demeans her own culture, she demeans parents.

  17. Two things bothered me about Cha’s article:
    1. Her article attempts to justify both psychological and physical abuse, though the latter was omitted. This is just my speculation but I can say from first and second hand experience that physical abuse is not just widespread, but the norm among Asian parents.
    2. The tone of her article is too smug for my taste.

    Regardless of how much you or I dislike the article, what Amy Chua said is for the most part, true. Pushing your child will take him or her further. On average, Asian parents tend to push their children harder than their Caucasian, Hispanic or African counterparts. However pushing too hard can often be destructive. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes growing up.

    TL;DR
    She is bragging about her daughters. Chill out.

  18. Ironically, it’s this article that seems to be bringing the high suicide rate of Asian women to public attention so some good may come out of it. There are plenty of non-oriental parents who are the same way, unfortunately, including white parents.

    Yes, children sometimes need a push, encouragement and to learn self-discipline – that is important in order to succeed at anything.

    However, many childhoods are filled with pointless battles – kids forced to learn instruments they hated, or take classes in subjects for which they had no natural ability. My cousin was forced to take piano – hated it – but it was a constant source of pointless battles and it seemed to become more about a battle of wills than learning piano. I was pushed in math and science – subjects I hated and wasn’t terribly good at – and then my parents wonder why I had so much trouble finding direction later on.

    Why is it so difficult for parents to grasp the concept of balance? Neither extreme of being too controlling or being too lax is good. A kid will go a lot further if pushed in a direction he or she is already willing to go.

  19. I was actually laughing the whole time I read Ms. Chua’s post because I thought it was a joke. And also because it reminded me of my Filipina mother’s idea of child rearing (she used much more colorful phrases than ‘garbage’ by the way).

    Now that I know she is serious all I can say is (and I recognize what an oversimplification this is)…what a bitch.

  20. Wait, wait, wait…. Let’s not all start screaming FUKU to Amy Chua just yet. I have read some of her ideas on other subject matters. She is quite the non-conformist to typical western views in many subject matters, and she has made many valid points. Nor is her excerpt of how she cajoled her daughter into successfully playing piano with two hands completely off the mark on how kids sometimes need that extra “kick” to perform at their best. Her method is a bit extreme. But that is part of her personality. From all the things I read about her. She is a person who is rock solid on her views of the world and does not easily bend to other people’s way of thinking.

    But let’s get back to the subject at hand. What makes everyone scream murder is that she associates her method with the word “Chinese”. Now, it is true, I know many Chinese parents who will go to the extreme to “encourage” their kids to excel. But this is hardly just chinese. Most of the Eastern world, and some western parents all practice this type of parenting to push their kids to excel above their peers. If her methods of parenting is “old school” then the “new school” approach where parents give undeserved praise and false hopes without actual achievements is also a bit nutty in my opinion. There are plenty of “grown babies” in America who think highly of themselves with very little real achievement to show for. They tend to also be extremely physically and emotionally needy and draining to people around them. A child needs both emotional fortification from the soft touch as much as psychological/mental fortification from hard love. Perhaps a combination of both is in order.

    Since everyone has already pointed out the bads of Amy Chua, I will point out the goods. She has the admirable quality of a parent willing to sacrifice anything and everything for what she perceives will add to the betterment of her children. Perhaps that is what she is insinuating with her piece about Chinese parenting. I believe the parents hurt just as much if not more than the kid, when a kid suffers. But it takes an extraordinary amount of love to bear the short term suffering to avoid long term suffering. As crazy as Amy Chua’s antics may be to force her child to play the piano correctly, she was herself hurting inside to have to force this kind of discipline upon her daughter. It is like that old saying when a parent beats their kids: “this will hurt me more than it hurts you” The physical pain is temporary.

    The Asian way of upbringing is much like the practice of Bonsai, whereas the western way is more like the backyard garden. Which one is better? You are the parent, only you can decide.

    Finally, I want to say something about this Chinese/Asian perception thing. I feel all the rage out about Amy Chua is misplaced. Why are we Asians so damn concerned about what others, namely white people think of us? Stop living for their approval. Why do you need to justify yourself? They don’t justify their way of living to us. Don’t make yourself the stereotypical Asian; don’t place them above you!

  21. THANK YOU for your response to Chua, and I enjoyed reading everyone’s responses. I grew up in the type of household such as Chua’s and it was complete misery. I am parenting my kids completely differently, but still have high expectations of them, without all of the emotional and physical abuse.

  22. So sad your vocabulary is so limited that F U is used at the beginning of each paragraph or sentence.

  23. I’m directing all my FUCK YOUs at the Wall Street Journal for framing the story around a lazy racial stereotype. Fuck you, WSJ editors for that sensational, attention-grabbing headline that drove up the traffic on your website. Fuck you because you know that millions of the visitors to your site never got beyond clicking the headline and glancing at the article. Fuck you Wall Street Journal for your continued ignorance and insensitivity.

  24. It’s still just one mother’s parenting style. I don’t know why we should get overly excited about what she said. WSJ published her article because it is different from what we are used to hear. That’s all. There will always be stereotypes. Don’t let them bother you! For all I know, most parents secretly think they are superior to others.

  25. To Hmmmm,
    Chau (written and spelled Châu) is usually a Vietnamese name not Chinese. Chua is not Châu, Chua is Chinese.

    Should I fuck a thousand years of Chinese domination of our race? Should I fuck those people who think all Asian are Chinese? Should I fuck those people who think all Asians are the same? Fuck them all. Fuck the imperialist China of today. Because this hegemonic attitude believe all Asian is of the lesser races, that everything good came from China. So it want to lay claim to all our lands and our races. Think of ASEAN and the issue of the South China Sea. Even our erudite culture that is not as rapacious, rapist.
    I am Vietnamese and I come from a rare few races that successfully resisted the many onslaught and attempts at Sinocization (Chinese assimilation) for all these centuries and I’m proud of it. No, I’ve immigrated here at a young age and am not successful according to the Chua’s (Chinese) model nor I’m following in the Chinese footsteps or mold, because I’ve come here without parents and fended it on my own, unsuccessfully as you may say.

  26. Fuck Ms. Chua’s attitude.. it backfires! EVERYTIME!
    do you think that her kids will REALLY open up to her when things get rough? NO. they will keep it in. why share when you will be lambasted for being a teen?
    and WTF is that dopey P.W. husband or whatever he is in the background do?
    damn dude just sits by and let this crap happen? what a joke..
    sure the shit works in asia- but you are NOT IN CHINA [slur redacted]!@!!!!!

  27. More “fucks” than I’m used to (my Chinese parents didn’t say it in our house), but better said than any response yet! Thank you.

  28. Fuck you Amy. Don’t u know anything on children rights? Your kids can call 911 and the cops can arrest you. What do u think your kids are, robots? You can’t force them they’ve got their own brains, maybe who knows one day your kids will kill u one day amy. And u can’t stop me from posting this even though I have the same surname but I’ve got my own brains and u can’t control me. This is America and I can post what I like

  29. Mothers, daughters, and all of you, and Chinese, and the all the rest,

    We should not say Fuck You to Amy Chua. She’s an exceptional teacher, a brilliant thinker, and a wise and an effective mother. Who here has accomplished so much as Mrs. Chua? So SHUT it! Swallow our own short comings. No ARGuing! Take a moment of reflection and anoint our great Chua. Chua! Chua, the great one, the one who knows best, the one who rises all above the rest, and the bearer of all future generations. And so we bow our heads and give you our allegiance and obedience.

    We, the mass, stop being chickens without heads, crying me me me. We’ll stop being scattered brains ping-ponging from playdates to chatdates. We’ll focus our minds into a singularity of thought – to receive your infinite wisdom – so you can teach us all to be like you.

    Failure is not an option. Beat us into submission. Berate us into obedience. Grind us into excellence. After all, to excellence is to virtue.

    – resistance is futile. logic dictates. you will be assimilated. those inassimilable inferiors will be :/ ostracised. excellent. -

  30. A brilliant rebuttal, in my opinion. Two friends of mine were quite badly hurt by this kind of parenting style, one which as far as I can see is far beyond what is typical among parents from any country. This is not tough love, this is a matter of humiliating and emotionally abusing children any time they are not perfect.

    As for the people who complain about this article’s language… I have to say fuck that. Swearing is exactly the kind of language necessary for outrage, and repeating such a phrase at the beginning of each sentence is a standard formula for grievances (see the Declaration of Independence and all the repetitions of “He has [done this]” and “He has [fucked up that]”).

  31. “Ironically, it’s this article that seems to be bringing the high suicide rate of Asian women to public attention so some good may come out of it. There are plenty of non-oriental parents who are the same way, unfortunately, including white parents.”

    Um, I’m not sure if you know that “In both Japan and America, Asian men have higher suicide rates than women.”

    http://www.pacificcitizen.org/site/details/tabid/55/selectmoduleid/373/ArticleID/490/reftab/36/Default.aspx?title=The_Growing_Rate_of_Depression,_Suicide_Among_Asian_American_Students_

  32. I must say that Wall Street Journal must had ran out of stories to post these days, otherwise who in the right mind would post Amy Chua as the leading model of Chinese-American mothers.

  33. there are a lot of comments in these posts saying that WSJ should never have published Amy Chua’s article. My opinion, on the contrary, is that it’s actually very important that this was published. Non-asians need to understand where asians are coming from when they complain about how their parents treat them. Too often, they just don’t understand why parents would treat their kids this way, and this article very exhaustively explains the asian parent’s point of view, and actually tells it even better than I previously understood it. They could also learn a thing or two from the asians when it comes to dealing with their children.

  34. Interesting, I never related high rates of suicide to Chinese parenting in the US. I always thought it was more to do with being treated as either invisible or a model minority.

  35. It is extremely aggravating that there are so many who jump to her defense as well. As though there is no middle ground between neglecting your children and abusing them.

    Honestly what’s derided in the article here is the only reason Amy Chua’s bullshit isn’t completely indefensible. It all relies on the widely accepted racist meme that asians are better at academics and better able to handle being treated like robots (seriously would there be any question about whether or not this was awful and offensive if it were “Beatn’ Kids!: Why Mississippian Parents are Superior”?). Add in the recent MSM trend towards framing China as the next Big Threat To Uhmurica and I honestly get kind of creeped out that the WSJ decided to highlight her book.

  36. That was really not necessary! “Fuck you” I think was just a little bit intense! You could expressed what you thought in a nicer way, you know. I’ve been raised in a Chinese Family, and I just so happen to agree with most of what she said. Maybe my parents weren’t as intense as Amy Chua, but that was SO not necessary!

  37. TIME magazine also decided to chime in on this with a xenophobic article. Asians taking over the world with their super smart brain powers! Talks about the buzz the article made in the blogosphere but not a peep about the suicide rates even though just about every blogger brought it up when commenting on the article. And concluding with “if my parents had pushed me harder I would have been more successful too!”

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2043313,00.html

  38. A big fuck you also goes to the fact that she is Asian American and not an immigrant. She paints the picture that asian immigrants are like that by using herself as an example. She isn’t an immigrant and she shouldn’t affirm the stereotypes. Thanks to her everyone at my school makes fun of Asian people and my freind is harrassed every day about “his parents threatenening him” or “getting A’s” when he is just an intelligent prodigy which has nothing to do with race. Also it degrades you as you don’t want to fit into that stereotype that is chastised as makes you feel horrible if you did well. So a big fuck you to Amy Chua!

  39. I came on here because two years ago, I found out that her parents were actually filipinos of Chinese descent (well, I think her father was). I remembered from a filipino forum that she had an aunt in the Philippines, years ago, who was murdered by her own domestic servants and stole some of her belongings. Then she went on to say, and concluded, that it had something to do with her aunt and her family being Chinese that this happened. That native filipinos are jealous of the Chinese…absolutely enraged me. What.A.Hypocrite.

    In the Philippines, the largest minority we got are Chinese. Now, I never wanted to demean them or anything, but people like Amy are not helping us view them (the minority in the country) well. She accuses filipinos of being a jealous type (sure we are, but not because of her smug and narrow-minded conclusions), and for sure, just hates on us out of her own personal prejudices. I also believed this has something to do with her parents also perpetuating these rotten ideas onto her growing up.

    I know many chinoys (Chinese Filipinos) who embody these model minority stereotypes, even without having lived in either US or China. Class obviously plays a role in their culture. A lot of them I know just have malicious, degrading view of us, native filipinos, thinking that we’re lazy, only after their money (ironic that they themselves worship it so much – god of prosperity anyone?), and that we’re just so poor because we aren’t as clever as they are.

    Ironically, the best of them, both good in heart and mind, hailed from the mainland itself. Consistently, the mainland Chinese have better attitudes and project less prejudice to ‘lesser’ brown-skinned Asian such as myself than these try-hard to be more Chinese in many living as immigrants. Ironically, most of these Chinese (except for the ones in Thailand) residing in South-East Asia (especially Malaysia and Singapore) are the ones most living these when- China- yet- wasn’t- communist notions of such upbringing. Look at how Singaporean Chinese boys grew up to be. Not even many of their own women wanted to marry them. They’re also the most materialistic sort of people, and they even had to import women from the mainland because they had so low fertility rates (like Hong Kongers as well – another openly racist group towards filipinos and indonesians).

    Amy Chua has a mind that belonged to that aspect of the past when her perhaps xenophobic parents were trying to carve their own place in a country not their own. I do not care what white people think of Asians (I really don’t give a shit – and I have issues with them as well), but I do care how she denigrates filipinos – when we’re already beaten up by everybody, even among ourselves, and it just shows that she is no different to those who imposed their imperialist ideologies onto ‘weaker’ groups of people. Amy’s sort typically kow tows to the whites, even whine and moan how racist they are, and yet they demean the non-Mongoloid, Austronesian types of people, as if they’re always entitled to something. Look at how Malaysia became what it is. When you’ve got a number of such minority only favouring their own for jobs, who of the majority doesn’t feel this is unfair and racist? Your own land being controlled by such minority without even caring to look after the rest of them? You know what happened as a result.

    Fortunately, in the Philippines, no race riots happened, because they only account for less than 5% compared to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand (well, this is the exception, because the Chinese there just refer themselves as Thai, unlike the aforementioned countries who have more bigoted groups). If Amy Chua lived in either Singapore or Hong Kong, her book would have probably been more tolerated – just take out the ‘Western parents’ bit and replace it with my own ethnicity. It will get more rave reviews, believe it or not. It is a great relief that most Asian Americans do not bear the same superiority complex as those minorities living back in my hometown.

    This might suck for the rest of you living in the US, but this is the truth coming directly from my own experience, from my own friends’ who had lived in these places that still bear such back-ass-ward mentality (Singapore) – and others who lived in the same shoes as me for a number of years. Now, I live in Australia, where everybody is just isolated from each other – equally. However, this is better for me than being made to feel constantly like I really am dirt and worthless because I came from a background who isn’t so ‘prosperous’ and ‘clever’. Peace out.

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