Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Yale Professor Is Proud of Being a Child Abuser and a Racist

In her article titled "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior", a Yale professor Amy Chua proudly enumerates all the ways in which she abused her miserable daughters:
Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do: attend a sleepover, have a playdate, be in a school play, complain about not being in a school play, watch TV or play computer games, choose their own extracurricular activities, get any grade less than an A, not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama, play any instrument other than the piano or violin, not play the piano or violin.
Chua chirpily defends her right to call her daughters names like "fatty" or "garbage" in public and rants against people who dare not to approve of such behavior. The reason why this monstrous woman has been torturing these poor kids is because she wants them to be "successful." Successful little Mommy pleasers, that is, who are not entitled to a personality or a single desire of their own. Why the social services just sit by and allow this to happen is beyond me. Does anybody really believe that simply beating the girls would do them any less damage?
As any other abuser, Chua strives to come up with a reason why it is acceptable for her to subject her poor kids to these horrors. She blames the abuse on the Chinese culture, insulting billions of people and branding them as abusers in one fell swoop. I always knew that my alma mater attracted all kinds of weirdos, but this is getting really scary. I believe that everybody who after reading this article abstains from ostracizing Chua is a racist and a participant in her child abuse. "Oh, we're just from a different culture, so that's why we are entitled to engage in abuse (genital mutilation, beatings, rapes) of our children" should not be accepted as an excuse. If you do think that this is a valid justification of abuse, you are a racist. If you believe that when a white American male from Oklahoma calls his daughters "fatty" and "garbage" in public he is wrong, but when a Chinese woman does it it's cute, you are not only a racist but also a misogynist.
Gosh, I'm traumatized just by reading about this horrible monstrous freak. And when I remember that this power-obsessed, unfulfilled harpy is actually an educator, I get even more terrified of how much damage she can wreak in the course of her miserable existence. That such people would think it OK to celebrate their disgusting actions in the media is the testimony to how far our completely misunderstood idea of "tolerance" can get us. I really hope that Sophia and Louisa still have enough personality left in them by the time they grow up to abandon their toxic mother to a lonely and pathetic old age that she so richly deserves. I also hope that she gets called "a fat, stinking piece of garbage" in public at least a few times, since she believes this appellation is such a great motivational tool.


Pagan Topologist said...

This is really horrifying, but I see such things so often, just not all concentrated in one family, usually. Some professors that I know feel that helping students detach from their parents, because of this kind of thing, is a large part of their job.

The fact that students parents are typically expected to pay for their education also gives parents the ability to continue such abuse into their offspring's undergraduate years. So often, I have had students tell me that they would like to major in math (or art, or anthropology, etc.) but their parents will not pay for college unless they major in something the parents specify. This does seem to be common in Asian families, but they are not the only offenders.

V said...

First of all - I agree with you that it is horrible. However, I think you have partially misunderstood her argument.

It is not about a request to be tolerated because somebody is from a different culture. It is about claiming to be from a superior culture. (NB: culture, not race. One can change one's parenting style, while one cannot change one's race) She is not asking to be excused, or defending her rights, she has no doubt whatsoever about her rights, and she is explaining what has to be "improved" in the Western culture.

The argument "this is our culture, please respect it" will surface only when some maverick social worker attempts to deal with the problem. Is there any social worker brave enough to confront law professor at Yale? :(

The real tragedy is that despite of more freedoms granted to children, the Western civilization, with its emphases on success and material achievements, is not that far from the Chua's version of the Chinese culture...

Clarissa said...

Of course, she isn't asking to be tolerated. She just makes good use of our pseudo-liberal fear of telling a person what they do is vile irrespective of their culture. Can you imagine a white male professor publishing the same article where the words "Western" and "Chinese" are inverted? Like "We the Westerners are superior to the Chinese because we call our children names"? Obviously, the newspaper is holding Chua to a much lower standard than this hypothetical white male. I just wonder why that is.

Anonymous said...

Yes was hoping you'd have something to say about this and you did not dissapoint. Just one of point though Miss Chua said she had no say in what the artical would be titled, but that makes it worse in my opinion. Isn't the Wall Street Journal supposed to be a reputable publication, whats it doing indulging in these cheap shock tactics?


cringe-all said...

While I also think this is too extreme, I agree in part with Prof. Chua about Western kids being excessively pampered, and about any parenting model different from yours being misunderstood and unfairly criticized. As an Indian adult living in the West, with a very Indian upbringing (which is typically not so different from the Chinese model described here) I am led to believe these days that Western culture and practices are superior in every conceivable way, from various quarters. This only makes me want to cling on even more tightly to possibly irrational things about my culture. If I believed in your angry outbursts like these I should probably abandon my family, change professions, seek psychiatric treatment and/or commit suicide.

Clarissa said...

I'm sorry but what is there to disbelieve here? That I consider this woman to be a racist and a child abuser? I absolutely do. Why would I lie about it?

This isn't about anybody being Western or non-Western. It's about some people being abusive jerks. And that has nothing to do with one's race and / or culture. I know tons of Western parents who are just like Chua or worse. The stories I could tell about it would be even sadder. The fact that Chua is presenting her argument within the "clash of civilizations" model is why I call her a racist.

cringe-all said...

You certainly cannot ignore cultural differences while talking about parental models. It has a lot to do with culture.
Also calling someone "fatty" is not considered half as offensive or injurious to one's self esteem in my culture as it is in the West. Friends frequently comment on or make fun of each other's appearances in ways that would be considered too personal by Western standards, and it could even be seen as a way to show that you care.
While I agree that a title like "Chinese mothers are 'superior' " sounds rather vacuous, I can actually see enough irony in it to find it amusing. Of course if a white man said "Western
culture is superior" it would seem offensive because of all the historical baggage it carries. While I violently disagree with many of Prof. Chua's points, I cannot help finding some perverse pleasure in it!

Anonymous said...

An excerpt from her book. Apparently her children presented her with substandard birthday cards.

I gave the card back to Lulu. “I don’t want this,” I said. “I want a better one — one that you’ve put some thought and effort into. I have a special box, where I keep all my cards from you and Sophia, and this one can’t go in there.”

“What?” said Lulu in disbelief. I saw beads of sweat start to form on Jed’s forehead.

I grabbed the card again and flipped it over. I pulled out a pen from my purse and scrawled ‘Happy Birthday Lulu Whoopee!’ I added a big sour face. “What if I gave you this for your birthday Lulu- would you like that? But I would never do that, Lulu. No — I get you magicians and giant slides that cost me hundreds of dollars. I get you huge ice cream cakes shaped like penguins, and I spend half my salary on stupid sticker and erase party favors that everyone just throws away. I work so hard to give you good birthdays! I deserve better than this. So I reject this.” I threw the card back.

Jesus Christ, what is wrong with this woman!


Denny said...

This article plays into the American stereotype of the overachieving Asian, but I don't think Amy Chua is a racist. She makes clear that she uses the term "Chinese mother" to refer to a type of parenting style. Specifically, she writes "I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too [as Chinese mothers]. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers."

Instead, after much thought and some research, it has become clear that the purpose of Chua's bombastic article was to generate controversy to hawk her upcoming book. I'd imagine it's also helping her sell tickets.

In fact, according to Christine Lu, who wrote an excellent rebuttal to Chua's article, Chua confesses that much of her book is actually about her "decision to retreat from the 'strict Chinese immigrant' model" of parenting.

This is the classic bait and switch. Make a ridiculous, shocking claim to generate publicity (she has succeeded wildly) then argue moderation in the actual book.

Anita said...

I noticed at the bottom of the article that she has published a book that will be released Tuesday. I sure hope she and her book qualify for the national talk show circuit. Maybe some rational feedback will help her realize that her children are not programmable robots.

Also, I think it's fun for some people to take pride in their extreme knowledge; to be the best, have the best, etc. when it's "not" at someone else's expense, but does it "always" make their lives better than mine, yours, hers, his...?
I don't think so.
Do they contribute more to the world? Hmmm...

Anonymous said...

"That's why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child."

"I wouldn't let Lulu get up, not for water, not even to go to the bathroom."

"I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic."

This woman is either using this for shock value and to generate some buzz to sell her book or is legally insane and needs to be put into an institution.


Clarissa said...

Sweet Jesus on the cross, people! These quotes are even worse than what I expected from the article. The woman is certifiable.

cringe-all: have you noticed that this defender of her culture called her daughters Sophia and Louisa? Lovely, traditional Chinese names, aren't they? Piano and violin are also such traditional Chinese musical instruments. Oh how much she loves her culture!

Don't you notice that all she has to say about Chinese heritage is about being mean and vile to little kids? The American animosity towards China is growing as fast as the US debt to China. Chua is just making money off the Americans' desire to dump on the Chinese. I predict that the images of nasty, violent Chinese will appear more and more often in American media.

Anonymous said...

cringe-all, you certainly can not deny that Amy Chua is raising her daughters in America. How must these girls feel being treated so badly when they see examples of their friends being treated better? A childhood experience like this might make these girls turn their backs on Chinese culture. This would be unfortunate.

I knew plenty of children whose parents were from different cultures growing up. The parents taught their children the differences in cultures without abuse. These kids had the advantage of learning two cultures and could function in both.

Asian kids were frequently encouraged to and often were the best in the class. The operant word being encouraged, not forced or humiliated. Greater strictness did not elevate to abuse.

While it may not be "half as offensive" to call someone "fatty" in Indian culture, it is in this one. The culture the child grows up in is just as influential or more than the old one as they grow up. And just how "offensive" must name calling be to be serious? Do you wait until a parent totally destroys the child's mental health before something should be done?

cringe-all said...

Children who are brought up by first generation immigrants always experience this clash of cultures firsthand. What they see at home seems to be severely at odds with what they experience in school. This is a double-edged sword. Like you say, it is painfully confusing but also possibly culturally enriching. I am of the opinion that with "Western style" parenting, the child is going to lose any sense of identification with the older culture whatsoever. There is a not-so-fine-line between "strict parenting" and "abuse", and I think some people are setting the bar for the latter too low. Clarissa here for example, goes to the extent of bringing up "genital mutilation and rapes" and wants Chua to be "abandoned to a pathetic old age" by her children. While Chua admittedly goes in for some dramatic antics to sell her book better (which sounds plausible), this blog also seemed like a very judgmental reaction from Clarissa.
In eastern cultures, parents typically invest more energy and time in bringing up their child, and expect to be taken better care of in their old age - and given this scenario, "abandoning them to a lonely old age" would be way more shocking an offence than calling a fat child "fatty".

Also this stereotype of uber-competitve Asian tech geeks is very demeaning (something Chua has been correctly accused of playing to), but I wonder if all these "pampered" Western kids have it any easier. In the big bad world, they are the ones who feel more pressure to chase big money and attractive "non-fatty" dates, while we Asians usually have closeknit families to provide a sense of security. (And yes, "fat" women or "nerdy" men do not face half as much difficulty as
Western people in finding romantic partners, because families actively contribute to matchmaking).

I checked the comments section
following the WSJ article, and a Chinese young adult has remarked that while she resented this parental control as a kid, she finds herself more advanced as a high school student than her peers, and is actually grateful for it. So yes it can work both ways and one needs to find the right balance as a "Chinese parent".

cringe-all said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cringe-all said...

I checked the comments section
following the WSJ article, and a Chinese young adult has remarked that while she resented this parental control as a kid, she finds herself more advanced as a high school student than her peers, and is actually grateful for it. So yes it can work both ways and one needs to find the right balance as a "Chinese parent".

Clarissa said...

" to chase big money and attractive "non-fatty" dates"

-I take exception to this! Who in Pete's name thinks that non-fatty is equated with attractiveness?

As for the Stockholm syndrome of the abuse, I know a 32-year-old woman who lives with her parents. She has never been on a date, doesn' have friends, can't find employment, and isn't allowed outside without her parents. And she thinks her parents are the best in the universe. She is very grateful.

Clarissa said...

Forgot to mention: the family I described in the preceding post is not Chinese. This is Western paenting model.

Just goes to show that this entire situation is NOT about East vs West. It's about abusive monsters that abound everywhere.

cringe-all said...

"Who in Pete's name thinks that non-fatty is equated with attractiveness?" Precisely. This is a stereotype which I find more predominantly present in Western culture (with slim models and all), and this is possibly a reason why being called "fat" is so offensive here, together with all the assumptions of "laziness" that go with it.

I am so sorry about the multiple postings (I don't know how it happened) ...I am removing the extra posts now :)

I agree there are abusive parents every where but what Chua describes isn't exactly on the same level as
child rape or genital mutilation.

meg said...

Definitely worse than genital mutilation. Although I didn't choose circumcision for my son because I personally consider it a form of genital mutliation, many otherwise loving and caring mothers do without jeopardy to their child's mental health. I'd be ashamed to admit to the behaviors of which this mother is proud. This is EMOTIONAL ABUSE.

V said...

---following the WSJ article, and a Chinese young adult has remarked that while she resented this parental control as a kid, she finds herself more advanced as a high school student than her peers, and is actually grateful for it.

I am not a Chinese, but I believe it is fair to say that I had a Chinese-lite :) upbringing. (Must add that I see a lot of this parenting style among FSU immigrants, especially those who believe they are "intelligentsia") And yes, I found myself more advanced as a high school student, and I am grateful for it. However, this is not all the truth - I am also very aware, from personal experience, of all the psychological problems which come from this approach.

The young Chinese you are quoting may be sincere, but her sincerity may come from actually buying the model according to which the outward material/status (or at earlier stages of life - educational) success is equivalent of happiness. Hope she grows up before having children of her own.

Greenconsciousness said...

Great Post -- but as I said above --this type of parenting is probably very acceptable in her culture. Hopefully it will become less acceptable as she and her contemporaries and her children read such posts as this one. GREAT JOB! WELL DONE!

Greenconsciousness said...

I read her book -World on Fire --it was good--I also read her collegue Samantha Powers' book, A Problem from Hell, which was also good. But neither one of these women's personal actions reflects the inelligence of their writing. Clay feet indeed. I notice left women never seem aware of the action required by their intellectual conclusions.

Clarissa said...

Chua cannot possibly be left. She is a professor at Yale. They only hire EXTREMELY right-wing people. Especially in Yale Law.

Greenconsciousness said...

World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability

Tom Carter said...

Clarissa, I don't normally drop links into comments, and I hope you'll forgive me for this one. I thought you and readers of this post might find interesting an article we have on the subject of Amy Chua's parenting techniques. It's by a practicing psychologist who has written several books on parenting: What Chinese-American Mothers Do Wrong (and Right).