19 July 2006

The Asian drive for conformity and self-sacrifice

I've known of it all my life, but I've just seen an extreme example from the Angry Asian Man blog.

This is real. And this isn't even coming from someone in China; it's coming from someone who moved to the United States five years ago.

Just read this essay, written when Ying Ying Yu was 13. In the midst of the country (China), the family, and the heavy social expectations, she chose to cease to exist as a distinct human being.

The Asian demands of self-sacrifice can be lethal, I know that for myself. For someone like me to exist - as a woman, as a lesbian, as a "tranny dyke," and as an aspiring writer - I had to stand up for myself, and fight and resist the pressure to conform to someone else's expectations of me. And only the more individualistic Western culture made it possible for me.

As I recall my high school years, I remember quite a few classmates living under the same kind of philosophy as the one shown in the essay. They turned out to be complete nerds and outcasts, and knowing nothing but academics, turned out to be less suited for the doctor/lawyer/whatever prestigious occupation they were expected to obtain, than the all-American well-rounded kids.

The essay was featured on NPR's Morning Edition on July 17th.

Read the Essay on NPR