Regarding academic achievement, participants described feeling pressured by and conflicted about pursuing lucrative financial careers, perhaps in an effort to recover losses of immigration and to achieve the “American Dream.”
Regarding gender role identity, women in the study described feeling restricted, perhaps in response to a parental effort to preserve a nostalgic vision of cultural purity. Men in the study talked about feeling pressured to assume leadership roles in the family as young adults. They also discussed feeling emasculated in the context of U.S. culture.
Regarding sexuality, women felt the pressure to be chaste and to marry someone of the same ethnicity, perhaps in a parental effort to recreate their parents’ nostalgic of the ancestral homeland. Men described feeling similar pressures in marrying, but also described feeling asexualized in U.S. culture.
Both women and men talked about the pressure to delay sexuality until after achieving career goals. Participants also described various experiences of racism that often led them to feeling marginalized.
Pressure. A word I have yet to see in any article concerning 1.5 generation Asian Americans, but one that comes up multiple times in this one about second generation Asian Americans.
Also, a word I can greatly relate to.
Like I defined before, being a second generation Asian American = being born in America. Like any other third or fifth or seventh generation American, we were born here. We grew up watching the same TV, playing with the same toys, speaking the same lingo, learning the same things.
We’re American. Or, so we are led to believe, until we become old enough to make our own choices, to then realize our parents would like a say in them, too.
There’s a reason second generation Asian Americans feel pressured to do this and that, to feel chaste, to become a leader, to pursue certain careers. To be pressured means to be uncomfortable and feeling forced in a situation, but it’s not like all Asian parents are unnecessarily cruel to their children. They just happen to have grown up differently, with a different set of values, goals, and expectations, especially for their children, seemingly despite who/what the child interacts with or how he/she develops outside of the house.
We’re pressured because we see a world, at school, in our friend’s homes, where it is abnormal to expect so much of one so young, or one still searching. It is one thing to naturally be ambitious or confident, and to naturally respond to every challenge in the way. But in a culture where “be your own person; you can be anything” seems to be the American motto, it is suddenly strange and intrusive be be cultivated to be someone you don’t think you want to be. To be pushed in a direction you know you already do not like, or are not good at.
And it’s no one’s fault, really, but it causes stereotypes to be made and certain expectations to be had by even our peers. Because Asian Americans are hardly portrayed in media (and if so, it is hardly diverse), it’s only natural that what is portrayed becomes the bar to which everyone is measured, as stereotypes go.