Wēijī : East Asian Mothering
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This conference presentation will highlight the conference theme of exploring motherhood and mothering in a global context. Wēijī represents the Chinese symbol for “crisis” and “opportunity” whereby reversing the characters changes the meaning to the other. East Asian mothering indeed is characterized by opportunity and crisis; as well as empowerment, resistance, and oppression. Examining the commonality and diversity in East Asian mothering, this presentation will posit feminist mothering practices, share narratives of mothering in this cross-cultural context from the presenter who is a Chinese Canadian mother and academic, and examine issues of empowerment and oppression. Filial piety, a Confucian virtue, dictates that children respect parents and ancestors. Yale law professor Amy Chua (2011) wrote in her best-selling memoir Tiger Moms: Battle of the Hymms about the Eastern mothering approach of the ‘Chinese tiger mom’ where filial piety is a must as children are expected to excel at all costs and to listen to their mothers at all cost. Chua proudly exposes her rigid Chinese tiger mom iron-fist and accuses Western parenting approaches for being too weak, not demanding, nor holding high enough standard of achievement for kids. Chua’s views have incited a North American debate to the extent that she received death threats and intense vitriol online from mothers while at the same time is loved and applauded by many others. This presentation will tie in discussions of the Chinese Tiger mom with an overall address into East Asian cultural and historic perspectives on mothering while examining the overall significance to academic, scholarship, and motherwork in a global context.