Amy Chua Take Notice: Young Asian American Females and the Suicide Rate
Amy Chua‘s galvanizing article on “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior” in last Saturday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal has electrified a national debate on parenting and education. It is still the most read article in the Asia Edition online and by far the most commented on in both the U.S. and Asian Editions as well as the most emailed in the U.S.
Her article highlights a study that found 0% of Chinese mothers agree that “stressing academic success is not good for children” or that “parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun,” and champions the strict (some say, inhumane) parenting style of perfection. Perhaps it is not surprising then, that Ms. Chua‘s statistics and rationalization provide a backdrop for another set of statistics: in 2006, Asian American females had the second highest suicide rate amongst minority groups, and those aged 15 to 24 were more likely than the average American female of that age range to commit suicide.
Dr. Eliza Noh, of California State University, Fullerton notes the concept of the “model minority” initially used to describe Japanese Americans but later broadened to include all Asian Americans. She explains: “The idea is basically that Asian Americans do well in school, do well in work, have few social problems, and they do this through the right cultural values.” Or, as Amy Chua might put it, “Nothing is fun until you’re good at it.” Which could translate to: “The solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child.”
Conversely, the suicide rate for Asian American men remain the lowest amongst all male ethnicities. So perhaps the stress generated by the “model minority” culture is largely female-directed, or there is less correlation than we thought. Still, the trends are interesting to consider.
So once you’ve mastered classical violin and begun your degree at MIT, what solution is left once a B is stained on your transcript? You could resign yourself to the fact that you will NEVER be accepted to Yale Law School, but why give up so easily? Your Chinese mother didn’t teach you to give up. Maybe finding a way to appreciate your humanity outside of academia and proving to your parents that you can still provide all the filial piety and pride they demand. Confucius would approve of that, wouldn’t he?
(CORRECTIONS: Our original story mistakenly reported that Asian Americans are more likely to commit suicide than the average American and that, amongst 15 to 24 year olds, Asian American women have the highest suicide rate. This has been corrected.)
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TAGS: Amy Chua • Asian American women • Asian Mothers • Asian stereotypes • Depictions of Asians • Eliza Noh • Suicide rate • Wall Street Journal
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