Friday, January 28, 2011

Inferior Western Parenting

In light of a recent controversy involving a certain Yale professor and her “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, there have been many criticisms about stereotypical Asian mothers and their parenting ways. One such criticism comes from an “Angry Asian Man". Not only does he clearly convey his opinion about the Wall Street Journal article written by Amy Chua, a professor at Yale, but he does this in typical “Angry Asian Man” style. “Angry Asian Man” is a very sarcastic, witty, and satirical blog, because this blog is in fact not written by a constantly angry Asian man. By calling himself an “Angry Asian Man”, the author of this blog evokes a certain type of personality even before the audience reads his content. His style, which is demonstrated through one particular post “your permissive western parenting is inferior, is very indicative of his particular style of voice. This blog post explains the author’s opinion on the recent Wall Street Journal article of an Asian “tiger mother” who defends her extreme parenting style. The post starts with
"Yes, I have read Amy Chua's Wall Street Journal piece,"Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,"and yes, I think the author is crazy."
Through this very clever use of linking to the original article, the author clearly states the source of the topic as well as inserts his own beliefs and opinions in the very beginning of the blog post. The author answers questions that were not asked by the audience, which demonstrates a sense of exasperation, and sets the tone for the whole post.
To be honest, at first I thought it was satire, until I was hit with the sickening, sinking realization that Chua is dead serious. She's completely embraced the model minority myth, and is the living embodiment of the Hardass Asian Mom... on friggin' steroids.
Through this example, the author combines both a serious tone and a very casual tone. The serious tone is evoked through his use of alliteration and negative adjectives, such as “sickening, sinking” and “dead serious”. Instead of just saying “serious” and “realization”, the author uses very emotionally heavy adjectives to describe his initial reaction. He goes on to say that Amy Chua is “the living embodiment of the Hardass Asian Mom… on friggin’ steroids.” This sentence is quintessential “Angry Asian Man” style. He capitalizes “Hardass Asian Mom” as a reference to a common stereotype that he assumes his readers understand—after all, his target audience is the Asian American community (as his blog is about Asian Americans). Not only does he reference “Asian Mom”, which in itself evokes certain stereotypical qualities, but he also inserts “Hardass” and “… on friggin’ steroids”. By doing so, the overall effect is that it reminds his readers of his writing personality. But furthermore, the use of the “…” is very effective—while the audience is mulling over the idea of “Hardass Asian Mother”, he uses the “…” as a pause into the next statement, which is extremely casual and colloquial, and it achieves the effect that makes him a very humorous person.
"Wall Street Journal readers are probably going to read this smug, bull$#!t piece and feel like they got some lightning bolt understanding of Asian behavior, as if they've now been made privy to some Ancient Chinese Secrets. Oh, I get it now. I understand why all the Asian kids are soulless, unfun automatons. Thanks, Professor Chua."
This is a classic example of the “Angry Asian Man” style. His voice is very sarcastic and ironic, which is obvious through the very last sentences. The irony kicks in when he says “Oh I get it now” because it clearly is a mockery of the actual issue. The sarcasm in this example is especially evident when he ends the post with “Thanks, Professor Chua”. Through these two techniques, this reinforces the type of voice that “Angry Asian Man” has throughout his blog—both sarcastic and ironic in order to convey his serious opinion.

In another blog post featuring things that are demeaning to (and stereotypes) Asians, “Angry Asian Man” comments on a tumblr page dedicated toAsians Sleeping in the Library".
"Fellow Asians, are you with me? I mean, on one level, I can appreciate this. I certainly wouldn't have called myself the most disciplined college student, but I do recall more than a few snoozes with my head perched on top of a textbook. At the library."
At first, through the use of “Fellow Asians”, the author clearly connects and relates with the audience. By doing this, he is able to talk about his own opinions with a level of relativity from the audience. In another example, “Oh, brother. I don't think the intent is malicious, but this guy could learn a thing or two about extolling the model minority myth, even in jest.

The tone of exasperation again is evident, through the use of “Oh, brother”. Much like the article by Amy Chua, “Angry Asian Man” emits a very exasperated tone of voice through his usual colloquial and casual style, by expressing his serious and personal beliefs through many instances of sarcasm and irony to achieve his specific voice.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Sister (Blogger) I Never Had: Elena Garcia

Elena Garcia is an average American, blonde hair green eyed, from San Francisco, living with her significant other Garrett and her dog Frankie. In any other aspect, she and I do not have much in common. I do not know who her favorite singer is or what her mother’s maiden name is, but despite my lack of knowledge about her, I feel like she and I are already very close friends.

Elena Garcia’s blog, “An American Girl in China”, details Elena’s personal one year “Adventure in Shanghai”.  She started her journey on November 2008, where she begins by packing away her life San Francisco to move to Shanghai, China for an entire year, and ended her journey on January 2010, where she is back in the United States and lots of experience in Chinese society under her belt. Elena’s initial perspective of China was naïve, and it is her initial naivety that made me read her blog. At the same time, however, Elena not only talks about her experiences with Chinese people and Chinese society but also about her travels. She posts just as much about her own life as she does about her experiences with Chinese people—the post about rock climbing in the Shanghai Indoor Stadium is preceded by her ranting about people who walk slowly with a newspaper or cell phone in the morning.

Much like Elena, I went on a journey to China this past summer. And like Elena, I went to Shanghai. I was a “foreigner”, although I did not entirely look the part. The luxury Elena had in China was that she had an excuse for being different (she was Caucasian), as I did not (I am Chinese). This did not stop us, however, from having similar experiences and sharing the same feelings towards those experiences. One thing in particular stood out to me, in her post “No Autographs Please!” dated June 10, 2009.
"People in China stare… they stare at us, they stare at each other, they stare at random objects, they just stare. It’s not rude, it’s not polite, and it’s not anything, they just stare! …  But for some reason it really got under my skin. I’ve settled so much already during my stay here. I mean I put up with the spitting, the staring, the pushing and shoving, I feel like I have reached my limit. Any more unwarranted attention, disrespect or cultural nuances and I might lose it.”
Had I read this over the summer, I may have cried. This, what she colloquially describes, was exactly what I felt during my travels in the same city of Suzhou. In this one post, Elena pinpoints one of the main reasons I picked my blog topic—how can I be Chinese, yet not understand why Chinese people do certain things? How can I be Chinese, but through my American upbringing, I feel angry and offended by Chinese people?
Another I identified with very much was “All Sorts of Goodness”. Elena writes:
"People squat on the floor to pee, they make magnificent noises when they are hocking up a loogie, and they flick their boogers onto the shoes of passer bys."
Elena’s relativity makes her blog like an older sister to my blog.

                        Unfortunately, it has been more than a year since Elena has posted on the blog. She returned to the United States in January 2010, and so her “Adventures in Shanghai” is over. Elena’s blog was purely for personal use, and therefore never gained too much attention. For her, this blog was a way of documenting her experience of being a foreigner in a foreign country, to share with family and friends, who are probably very curious as to her well-being. Although we have similar topics, my blog will feature an Asian American view of the same experiences—because believe me, Chinese Americans and Caucasians are treated very differently in Chinese society. My blog will not be something I will share with family and friends to update them about my life, but rather an evaluation of who I am, and how I will try finding my identity, when I do not identify with any particular society at all.

Hello, World. 你好,世界。

Hello, World. These two words seem appropriate at the present moment, because it explains what this blog is going to be about—a search for one’s personal identity, a journey of self-discovery. At one point in our lives, we have asked ourselves “Who am I? What makes me who I am?”, but it is only through personal experience that one can answer these baffling questions.

The topic of “culture” is somewhat foreign to Americans in the United States, mainly because the United States is a potpourri of cultures built from a foundation of immigrants. In its basic anthropological essence, the word “culture” describes a way of living built up by a group of human beings that is passed down through generations. It also, however, describes something that almost every society has, sans the United States. The truth of the matter is that American “culture” (if we can even call it that) is built upon borrowing ideas from others. It is highly unlikely, if we embrace the anthropological view of “culture”, that America has built its own unique “culture” in its short period of history. In contrast, civilizations like China demonstrate a society whose cultural background spans thousands of years. Therefore, keeping with the argument offered by the anthropological definition of the word “culture”, China has a national cultural identity, due in part by behaviors and customs passed down generations.

That said, this blog is about a Chinese girl growing up in the United States. Whereas others spend their college years searching for what they want to do in the big picture of life, this Chinese girl spends her college years not only searching for her destiny, but also her identity. Torn between two worlds, this Chinese girl grew up eating rice for lunch in an American elementary school in the sea of bologna sandwiches. This Chinese girl translated for her mother at supermarkets, while the child in the cereal aisle carries a conversation with his mother in perfect English.

This Chinese girl is me.

I am well aware of the books found in the “Self-Help” section of bookstores that deal with the subject of “finding one’s self” and “knowing one’s self”, but my journey in finding my cultural identity is far less cliché. As a matter of fact, I am still struggling to find my place between the two “cultures”. Essentially, others would consider me a Chinese American. But to me, those two words carry a heavy meaning upon my shoulders. From this identification, one could deduce that I was both Chinese and American. But in reality, I felt neither Chinese nor American. Before going on, I would like to clarify that when I say “Chinese”, I mean someone who grew up in China and was immersed in Chinese culture, while I say “American”, I mean someone who grew up in the United States and was immersed in American society. I dream of a day when I tell people that I grew up in Chicago, the look of genuine surprise would not flit across their face. I dream of a day when people do not go on and say “But what ethnicity are you? Chinese, Korean, Japanese?”, to which my answer of “Chinese” would be confronted with their “Chinese knowledge”, consisting of badly spoken broken bits of Chinese words with a stupid smile on their face. But I digress. Through all this adversity, I still struggle to find which society I identify with and shapes who I am as a person, whether be at home with my parents who are die-hard Chinese-to-the-core type of people, or at school where I had to explain what “shumai” was to a friend (which, if you were wondering, is a shrimp dumpling).

This is a blog about my experiences of being a Chinese American. I am just a girl, whose family is very culturally Chinese, growing up in an American society