Below is a chapter from Rule #2: Don’t Be an Asshat: An Official Handbook for Raising Parents and Children. Over time we will be posting most of the book, though, should this inspire you to buy a copy, we would not be offended 🙂 Posted chapters can be found in the Table of Contents.
Rule #58: Be cute, strong, and smart (Dad)
There will always be people who will try to put you in a box of “shoulds”—what you should do, what you should look like, how you should act, and what you should believe. Not all people are trying to oppress you, but they live in a confined understanding of whom they believe can and ought to be Asian American, female, Christian, San Franciscan, mixed race, educated, et cetera, et cetera.
We all do this kind of boxing in, as we can only understand the world to the extent that we are willing to be open to it, and not all people are able, willing, or convinced that seeing the broader world is a good idea. They will come at you with justifications, social pressures, guilt, and shame, but in the end, they want you to fulfill a particular cultural script, and no deviation is allowed.
So what we want you to do is be you. When you were little girls, folks would comment about how “cute” you were. And while we certainly thought you were adorable, we would follow it up with “and strong and smart.” We did this not only to provide commentary on the way girls are often treated but also because we do believe that you can be all of these things if you choose to. You can be be a fashionista who loves soccer and math, you can be a math geek who likes frilly things and tree climbing, or you can be a geocacher who loves bath bombs and can burp the alphabet.
In the end: You. Be. You. Cute, smart, and strong.