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Going out on a limb here

Because Hallmark does not make a card for this.

When I opened the newspaper this Sunday, ads with BIG SALES for International Women’s Day did not tumble out of the newspaper bundle. Well, because there was none.

It was not even an after thought here in the U.S. if it were not for the Interwebz, the Blogosphere and the Twitterverse. And for online magazines to come up with LISTS of Most Influential Women, Most Powerful Women, Women Who Inspired Us, yada yada yada, you know, just so all the frantic google searches by people who are trying to find something that they can blog, tweet and Facebook about today will lead to their websites. Traffic-generating content.

I guess the Google Doodle for the day also helped bring attention to the existence of an International Women’s Day to a lot of people.

But, seriously, if it were not for Daniel Craig, who as you would notice is a man, dressed up in a drag, the Interwebz would not have been buzzing about the 100th Anniversary of IWD as much. So men in drag sell. Got it.*

Women have a half day off in China every year on March 8. Just sayin’

I am still reeling from my vehement agreement with Stephanie Coontz who said in her interview on NPR that though women have undoubtedly made great progress since when Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique (1963), there seems to be, instead of “the Feminine Mystique” (or, as a cynic would argue, in addition to), “the HOT Mystique” nowadays:

Women are told, “Yes, indeed you can be anything you want, but, you also have to be hot while you are doing it!” And there is this tremendous pressure on young women… This can be very destructive to young girls when they are channeled into this sense. That, the way to empowerment is to display your sexuality.

 

What else? … Oh, of course, Texas. Can’t forget Texas. In honor of Internati0nal Women’s Day… Ok. I jest. Texas probably does not know nor care. Texas… sigh. I’ll let CNN tell you:

The state house approved the anti-abortion measure [that requires mothers seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound examination and listen to a description of what it shows] in a 107-42 vote Monday. And state senators backed a similar proposal last month. After a conference committee hashes out the details, Texas Gov. Rick Perry will have the final say.

 

To put everything else in perspective, here are some latest breaking news around the world:

Ivory Coast marches on International Women’s Day end in bloodshed

International Women’s Day Egyptian march met by men

Not a good day to google news with the keywords “International Women’s Day” really.

 

Sorry I have turned on my cynical pump full cylinder today. Turbo-Cynicism FTW! And really it is all my own fault. Nobody else to blame. I kept on seeing since this morning tweets that asked women to share their greatest accomplishments.

I thought long and hard. <– Elly, this one is for you. Who loves ya baby?!

I could only come up with “Gave births twice but only suffered acute birth pain for 15 minutes so probably did not count after all if you want to be all picky about it”. It’s that or “Managed to keep children alive longer than any pets i.e. fish I have had”…

Ok. Enough about me.

So… how’s everybody’s Fat Tuesday coming along?

 

 

* Don’t get me wrong. I love the promotional video for www.weareequals.org with Daniel Craig and Judy Dench narrating the facts and statistics. Here, I’ll prove it by putting the video right here.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkp4t5NYzVM

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Tiger Moms. That’s all I hear/read about these past few days.

Ugh.

Yeah I hear you. But are you surprised that I need to talk about it?

In case you have not heard, the “Tiger Mom Controversy” refers to a WSJ article written by a Yale Law School professor, Amy Chua, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior?” In addition to the 6900+ comments on WSJ.com (and counting), the article (and the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother) has inspired (mostly out of anger and spite) numerous articles and discussions, and Chua was interviewed on NPR (and they took heat for that interview).

You can go and read about all that by googling. So much anger. It’s like Mommy War all over again. Perhaps this time we (i.e. SAHMs and Working Mothers) can all band together by hating one common enemy.

“At least we are NOT like that.”

“Yeah, High Five, sister!”

Or you can read the non-angry posts that do NOT dwell on whether her parenting style is right or wrong (or “evil” as so many commenters have declared without actually reading her book). Instead these posts pointed out a couple of interesting ways to look at this controversy:

Brilliant marketing! Amy Chua and her publisher are laughing all the way home. Cha ching cha ching. “Thumbs up to the writer”

This controversy provides opportunities for ourselves to discuss and examine our own parenting styles and philosophies. “Be A Better Parent Through Blogging”.

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Or, read a post by someone who has actually read the book — Gosh, what a novel concept, eh? Amy Chua: Tiger Mother without a Plan, and draw your own conclusion.

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Because I am a lazy blogger, I now hate Amy Chua with a passion, not because of her unattainable parenting style or the whole perpetuating the stereotype thing, but because I cannot stop thinking about it. I have drafted several completely different responses to this giant can of worms that she has opened, and I hate working on drafts. Drafts are for suckers who like to work hard, who practices piano or (or “AND”) violin two hours every day, who does everything to perfection.

Curse you, Amy Chua!

Ok. So below is my second reaction (and NOT the last) after I recovered from the initial, visceral reaction.

Disclaimer: This is one of the post-visceral reactions I’ve felt. I am conflicted. I have argued against myself and contradicted myself. In this post, I am telling one of my responses like it is. I will follow up with the rest because OH GOOD GRAVY my head hurts. I need to now go rub Tiger Balm on my temples and tummy.

I may just be jealous.

There. I said it.

I am not suggesting that I wish my children were better or different or somebody else; I swear on my life, I am very happy with and proud of their performances and accomplishments in everything that they are doing, including the failed attempt at learning Chinese. However, I will cop to the wild fantasy that my kids were somehow more obedient, better disciplined, less wise-ass-y, and more “convenient” when I want to go to a fancy restaurant with real napkins and nice crystals. A girl can dream, right?

I may just be jealous because Amy Chua’s children seem to have it made: They are not teen moms. They don’t do drugs. They are not bums. They did not turn Goth or Punk or Neo-Nazi. They did not rebel. They did not run away and end up turning tricks. They did not turn into Valley Girls either. (Yes, as you can see, my expectations are fairly low…)  They did not get with the wrong crowd. They are on their way to prestigious universities and presumably will end up with great jobs, and so on and so forth. I can see their bright futures, and as a mother, that is what I am worried about: my kids’ futures.

Raise your hand if your child’s class is full of the so-called Asian prodigies.

Raise your hand if you ever shake your head or wince at the prevalence of Asian-sounding names on the list of winners at Spelling Bees, Academic competitions, Lego Leagues, Science Fairs, concerts, recitals, and what not.

Raise your hand if you ever try to dismiss the conclusion that Asian cultures put a lot more emphasis on academic excellence by saying, “But it is NOT the American way, and maybe THESE people should become more American now that they are in America.”

Raise your hand if you comfort yourself by thinking, “But colleges look at MORE THAN just SAT scores. You need to be well-rounded.”

Raise your hand if you ever think to yourself, “But they suck at sports.”

Here is a Chinese American raised in “The Chinese Way” (different from the way I was raised and I am 100% “authentic” Chinese — I use “authentic” with quotation marks and I can show you a chapter from my dissertation dissecting this word so don’t sling mud at me, yet) spelling it all out, for all her American readers (and by god, did she get readers or what because of this controversy!), sharing the Ancient Secret Chinese recipe with all of us, and we got all pissed at her.

Because the truth is difficult to hear.

The truth is not whether HER parenting style (or anybody else’s for that matter) is better.

The truth is… I am going out on a limb here… we feel anxiety for our children’s future because the way the world has been changing.

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Here is a theory:

Raise your hand if you are ever concerned, or even outraged, by the state of the teenagers.

Raise your hand if, even though you do not believe in hovering or overprotecting, you still sometimes wonder whether what you are doing with your children is enough to prevent them from going astray.

Raise your hand if you are not sure what the correct balance is between discipline and freedom, between rules and independence.

Raise your hand if you ever worry about your kids not being able to get a job when they grow up because of the fierce competition. Not just in the U.S., but from all over the world.

Raise your hand if you are not sure about the outsourcing trend, worried about people in China and India taking the jobs away.

Raise your hand if you are convinced that social security is going to disappear by the time you retire.

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By now many have heard and probably been shaken by the much cited line from the documentary Waiting for Superman:

Out of 30 Industrialized Nations, our country’s children rank 25th in Math, 21st in Science & falling behind in every other category. The only thing our children seem to be ranked number 1. in is confidence.

Coupling that with the revelation and the fear that China is US’ biggest foreign creditor, with roughly $900 billion in Treasury Securities, and $1 trillion if you include Hong Kong. (Don’t think there is a mass hysteria over the “imminent” Chinese threat? Remember the “Chinese Professor” political ad running last October?)

I suspect what we have observed in the disproportionate outcry against Amy Chua’s short article is a perfect storm.

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