Sometimes Shame Is a Good Thing

July 19th, 2007 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

When I was in a memoir class in grad school, and we were reading Maxine Hong Kingston, my professor said during lecture, “Jews have their guilt, and the Chinese have their shame.” This wasn’t a new idea, by any stretch, but there was something about hearing it out loud, in an academic setting, from a shriveled, pedantic know-it-all, that jolted me from my note-taking and made me feel…ashamed.

Ashamed of shame? That could only mean one thing–I’m Asian!

Shame defines Asian cultures. It accounts for the alarming suicide rate among our young women (the highest of any group), the phobia surrounding mental health issues, and the persistence of domestic violence in Asian communities around the world.

That said, sometimes shame can be a good thing. What?!? I know, crazy, right? But take this person for example:

“Should I have another sip no skip it, in the back of the ride and bust with the whippit.”

It was recently reported that Lindsay All-Time-Lohan was busting with the whippits, i.e. nitrous oxide, during rehab. Dude, Lindsay. Even when I was wearing fur pants and glitter on my face during my totally shameful “rave phase”–promise to never speak of this again, dear DISGRASIAN readers–and consuming all kinds of “fun stuff,” I would never ever never touch that stupefying garbaggio.

Your problem Linds, is you have no shame. But my problem is, I have an excess of shame. What can we do about this inequality?


Think about it. It could be huge.


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