Triple Rebuke: Gefilte Mama Responds

What’s this I hear about a new book by Tiger Mom and her husband? That it lists eight groups supposedly producing the most successful people in America? Two of which groups Tiger Mom and hubby just happen to belong to?

I know what you’re going to say. “You seem peeved, Gefilte Mama. But you belong to one of those groups. What do you have to beef about?”

I’ll tell you what I have to beef about. You think we Jews don’t have enough tsuris? You think we’re not already stereotyped as rich and successful, of having some sort of unfair advantage, of controlling all the banks? Do you think we need Mrs. Tiger Mom and her Jewish hubby putting this message out there yet again, giving people more opportunities to gripe about us? Thanks for nothing. That’s what I have to beef about.

dreamstime_xs_30765814No, I haven’t read the book. The only people who have read it are reviewers and, however this may astound you, this Gefilte Mama is not on the publisher’s VIP list. But to tell the truth, I’m not interested in reading it. Why? Because one, what they’re saying has been said before, and many times. Tiger Mom and hubby are not the first to point out that some cultures promote education and achievement, leading to successful children, and Jews and Asians have always been on that list. Two, I don’t believe in their so-called research, nor am I impressed with their conclusions. These groups have a superiority complex? They’re insecure? They have impulse control?

Let me point out a few things. First, guess what? Not all members of these groups are successful. Yes, it’s true: Jews (the one group I can speak about with some authority, being a member of it) do have a culture that promotes education. Yet I happen to know many Jews who would not fit Tiger Mom’s (and hubby’s) very narrow definition of success.

Second, guess what else? You know what group has probably the biggest superiority complex in this country? WASPs. Yes, WASPs. Look at all the crazy right-wing white guys yelling and screaming because we have a black president. And insecurity? Who’s P.O.’ed about so-called minorities (including some of the groups on Tiger Mom’s list) outnumbering them? Who’s stocking up on guns and ammo, convinced that our black president is going to take them away? Impulse control? Well, most of these nut jobs have not yet caused mass destruction, so they must be exerting some amount of self-restraint.

dreamstime_xs_30394336Third, maybe it’s just me, but it seems just a teeny, tiny bit arrogant and self-congratulatory to write a book that makes a case about how successful you are, and this is Tiger Mom’s second. Oh, yes, I know. That “Battle Hymn” she wrote was supposed to be about how she was humbled, but I read it, and let me tell you, she takes up a whole lot of pages boasting about the money she spent on private lessons, world travel, catered parties, and designer gowns. Let’s not dance around the truth here. Tiger Mom is obsessed with “success” and absolutely in love with the fact that she’s achieved it.

Here’s what saddens me most about this book: This and all the other articles written about it, all the chatter and Facebook posts and Tweets and discussions at the water cooler, will only drive Tiger Mom’s latest nonsense to the best-seller lists.

Forget I said anything. And I suggest we just stop talking about it. Because otherwise, once again, Tiger Mom will simply take our outrage to the bank.

Photos: Top: Triple Falls © Stevebrigman; Bottom: Triplets © Sovpag | Both photos via


10 Responses to Triple Rebuke: Gefilte Mama Responds

  1. I agree wholeheartedly (and I’m a WASP!). Tiger Mom knowingly writes about controversial (and superficial) subjects to sell books. But what a marketing genius. Look at all the ink spilled on her book and it doesn’t even come out until Feb. I’m with you, let’s skip it. Next! (AMcD)

  2. Well, at least you belong to one of the groups on the list. Heaven forbid you were African American, like me. I had no idea that superiority was ground out of me by my ancestors’ particular history in this country. What were my husband and I thinking, working two jobs apiece, expending all those resources to ensure that our unlisted children would have at least a fighting chance against Chua’s army of the superior–the music lessons, the private schools, the trips abroad. They can even speak a couple of languages. And we did all this without calling them pigs or sticking them in the snow for 20 minutes. What a waste.

    • It’s never a waste to do what you can for your children. (But I think — I hope — you’re being sardonic.) I really do understand more than you may realize. While I am Jewish, “Gefilte Mama” is a fictional character I created to respond to the “Tiger Mom” book. (You can read that first response here, if you’re interested: )

      Our family is far from well off and can’t possibly “compete” with people who can lavish money on private music lessons, private tutors, etc. I’m not at all a “success” in Amy Chua’s terms and my child won’t have all the advantages of wealth and connections. I’m an outlier in my own ethnic group, according to her view of the world.

      But honestly, A, I think the important thing is for people like us — sane, intelligent people who care about doing the best we can for our children while inflicting the least amount of psychological pain — to reject this superficial, elitist way of thinking and continue to live our lives in the best way possible.

  3. Well I’m Irish catholic so you can imagine how their opinions make me feel. The only thing the Irish are famous for doing well is lifting their elbow with an alcoholic beverage in their hand which they have to do because being a catholic is so depressing. (Well…the Irish have contributed significantly to world literature in the English language and their music has had some influence).
    It’s true that Americans worry a lot about losing their standard of living but so far it hasn’t happened – we just keep on consuming way more than our share and no one is trying very hard to reverse that. I would like to see brainy, hard working people like Chua and Rubenfeld address changing how Americans perceive success instead of reinforcing the same old BS.

  4. It’s funny, Pat — as I was reading your comment I thought, “But what about all those amazing Irish writers?!” And I happen to love Irish music, too, so I’m with you all the way.

    I also agree that the authors of this book could expend their energy and influence in ways that make the world a better place but, to be honest, that doesn’t seem to be their interest. My very cynical take on “Tiger Mom” and this “Triple Package” thing is that their aim is to sell books, not to change the world.

  5. First they steal our husbands, then they steal our children’s rightful spots at Harvard.

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