If you’re going to be a diva, then own it. Was this lesson lost on Yale law professor Amy Chua, the author of an incendiary essay in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, and a new book about Eastern versus Western parenting styles, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother?
Professor Chua seems to have it all: brains and beauty; an incredible academic career, with an endowed chair at Yale Law School; a hunky husband, fellow YLS prof Jed Rubenfeld; and two lovely and accomplished daughters. (Speaking of Chua’s kids, does anyone know where her oldest girl, Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, is attending, or applying to attend, college? To Asian parents, sending a child to a top college is the ultimate vindication.)
But Amy Chua may need to work on her bitch-goddess qualities. After her controversial essay about the superiority of Chinese mothers and hard-ass Asian parenting set the blogosphere on fire — and sent her book rocketing to #5 on the Amazon bestseller list — Chua backtracked a bit, instead of defiantly standing her ground.
I assume it's all a marketing ploy. Be extreme to get a lot of attention and then back off to get a different bout of coverage:
Without the buzz created by the provocative op-ed, what are the chances that a memoir about Asian-American parenting from a relatively unknown author would make it onto any bestseller list? ...
And her response to the outrage? It’s not another article criticizing the Wall Street Journal for taking her “out of context.” It’s “buy the book to get the full story.” That says it all. As of Sunday afternoon, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" sits at No. 4 and climbing on the Amazon Bestsellers list.
So she's either the bitch mother of the year, a craven coward who runs from controversy, a calculating bitch who uses her relationship with her kids to make a fortune, or a race traitor who perpetuated stereotypes about Asians. Or some combination of the foregoing. It's all pretty despicable.
As I learn about Chua, however, another question comes to mind. Why is she at Yale. If you look at her publication record prior to the current book, she pretty much had only two major publication--a Yale Law Journal article in 1998 and a book in 2003. The few other publications are mostly in minor journals. It's a pretty damned thin record.
When I posed this question on Twitter, one of my UCLA law colleagues--who should remain nameless--responded:
She's the spouse of a much loved Yale prof, Jed Rubenfeld.
I suppose it's illegal not to hire Professor A just because she's married to Lawyer L. But I've seen a lot of cases where a law school hires Professor A and then gets pressured into hiring Lawyer L so as to retain A. Some other law schools comes sniffing around and tells A they'll hire both her and her partner if she jumps ship. So her home school hires the partner to keep her.
Sometimes it works out great and you end up with two outstanding teachers and scholars.
And sometimes you end up with an Amy Chua.
Maybe we'd be better off sticking to celibate eunuch orphans.