Friday, September 12, 2008

An Asian Chinese upbringing

I am currently reading Hillary Rodham Clinton’s autobiography and I must say I admire her for her tenacity and her passion. I’ve always found strong women like her fascinating. It is women like her who leaves their mark in the world.

My mom grew up in an essentially traditional Chinese household where girls are taught to be respectful to their elders. They are not allowed to speak out as that would be contrived as rudeness to your elders. They are not allowed freedom to mix with their friends. Their role simply belongs in the kitchen.

Growing up, I had a mixture of the modern and traditional Chinese upbringing. My mom understands the importance of education of which she was denied, but she didn’t understand the need for the young to speak out and be heard because all her life, she has been taught that the very act of speaking out is of extreme rudeness to your elders.

I, on the other hand, having been exposed to books when I was young, do not understand why I have to do something simply because I was told to. I guess it’s something that’s inherently in my personality. Like any child these days, I am inquisitive. To make matters worse, I do not like to be told that there is something that I cannot do. Needless to say, our personality clashes do not make things easy, either for her or me.

It took me a long time to finally find my footing and to finally be strong enough to stand up for myself and what I believe in. We are still trying to come to grips with our differing roles as women of different generations. I certainly hope that the generation gap between my daughter and I will not be this great. As it is, I am already encouraging her to find her own voice. Her opinions are always welcomed, not frowned upon. She knows that there are no limits to what she can do. Like Hillary said, there are millions of cracks now in the glass ceiling.

As time passes, my mom is beginning to understand that women don’t just belong in the kitchen. They belong everywhere. And it is alright to speak out and be heard.

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