Raising up women leaders and voices

July 31, 2007

5 Asian American women InterVarsity ministry leaders put together this book, More Than Serving Tea: Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership And Faith, bringing out diversely rich perspectives about gender and identity issues through their personal narratives. Nikki Toyama, Tracey Gee, Kathy Khang, Christie Heller de Leon, and Asifa Dean shared the tasks of authors and editors, and they’ve been blogging over at morethanservingtea.blogspot.com, creating a space to dialog about the intersection of gender, race, and faith, particularly concerning Asian American women.

Nikki’s most recent blog wonders out loud about boundaries of the Asian American context:

I’m beginning to wonder if boundaries are the luxury of the middle class. Is there such thing as boundaries when you’re doing justice work?

I’ve wondered about boundaries, Asian American families, and Christian discipleship. What therapists call “enmeshment” is a common occurrance in Asian American families. Is it an issue that we need to fight against in the Asian community. Or is family therapy culturally bound.

What some might called “enmeshed” has great characteristics. There’s a wonderful sense of involving everyone, and a corporate identity that is a healthy antidote to a narcissitic individualized model. But it has its problems too.

From my limited vantage point, it comes across as parents who are very upset at a young person’s decision. A lot of emotional pressure lands on the young person to comply to their wishes. I’ve heard extreme cases of threatening suicide unless a young person changes their plans. More common examples are sleepless nights, extreme anxiety, etc. Are the young people just clueless and self-absorbed? Or is the older generation enmeshed? Both?

Is this just how things get done in Asian American households? What’s the Christian response?

Bo Lim has mentioned that an event may well be in the works specifically toward Asian American Christian Women in Seattle, possibly in 2008.

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