She appeared last night on The Colbert Report to discuss her book, as well as the way its intent has been misinterpreted. (The WSJ article consisted of excerpts of her book Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother, stitched together by the paper's editors without context, seemingly in order to generate controversy.)
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
(As an aside, Chua is also a great advertisement for Asian genes. She's 49 years old!)
I've recently been having an occasionally heated discussion over at another blog about Chua. Now I haven't read her book (although I'll be seeking it out), and have no personal interest in defending her, but I've been less than impressed by a rush by some people across the Asian-American blogosphere to label her a bitch, a sellout or a fraud. Again, I don't know her so it's possible she could be all of those things. But I would prefer to give her the benefit of the doubt, since those accusations seem to be based on spurious reasoning. And I tend to believe that people don't always fit neatly into the categories that others wish to define for them.
For example, much of the criticism of Chua and her parenting style appears to be based on how the WSJ article has presented her, rather than the more nuanced content of the book, which is apparently a memoir of a journey into and then away from the uber-strict Chinese parenting style which the WSJ article seems to celebrate.
Here are a couple of other complaints that have come up:
"Chua talks about Chinese parenting, yet she's not even Chinese - she's Filipino."
"Chua talks about Chinese parenting, yet she married a white Jewish guy. Her kids are being raised Jewish. So clearly she's not really very Chinese at all."
Firstly, she is born in the US, to ethnic Chinese parents who were from the Philippines. To say that she is not culturally Chinese is akin to saying that only people born in China are culturally Chinese.
To the second point; is culture carried by genes? Because personally I fail to see how the ethnicity of her husband impacts on Chua's own ethno-cultural identity. Raising her kids Jewish was apparently a deal made with her husband - the trade-off was that they would become fluent in Chinese. And remember that Jewishness is a religious identity as well as a cultural identity; if Chua herself is not overtly religious, which seems likely, then it makes sense to raise her daughters according to the religious tradition of her partner.
We all make judgments about others, let's not deny it. But it's important to make those judgements based on reality, rather than erroneous interpretations, lazy assumptions and stereotypes.