Back in December last year I wrote about the Application of Stereotypes.
All Americans have big hair and perfect teeth. Do they? Not in my experience.
The English only bath once a week. Highly unlikely, don’t you think?
Australians are all binge drinkers. As a nation we have a well documented problem in this regard, yes, but to tar us all with the same brush?
Recently I wrote about people’s reactions to a family of mixed hue in Yes, they are mine.
Even after 10 months, I find myself still infuriated by the use of stereotyping in our case. Furthermore, my feathers are still ruffled that no-one in officialdom seemed to think the words I objected to were stereotyping, or quite simply the people I spoke to didn’t understand the concept of stereotyping. As I reflect back, I wonder how many of us in life are subjected to stereotyping in our daily life.
Some stereotyping is now illegal in Australia. “She is young, she’ll get married and have children and leave, don’t employ her” is one such example. However, just because something is illegal, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen!
How do we give up our stereotypical perspectives and look at individuals as individuals? Stereotypes are like a sensory shorthand we use. We see a snake and we assume it is poisonous. Sensible use of stereotyping, don’t you think? After all, better to be safe than sorry and get bitten! Should we do the same with people? Yes, there are undoubtedly some circumstances in life where it may be a safety issue to apply a stereotype: confronted by a guy with a gun in the middle of the night in a dark street, I’m unlikely to ask him if he is enjoying his evening stroll, I know I am going to stereotype him as a mugger at the very least and take appropriate protective measures.
Putting such unusual circumstances to one side, however, we still stereotype and often completely erroneously! I was once told all atheists “believe in” abortion! We do? This was news to me and would be, I am sure, to a lot of other atheists!
Asylum seekers are stereotyped. SBS recently had a great series which Miss O 1 has been studying at school, titled “Go back where you came from“. The episodes can be viewed on-line from that link. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the area of asylum seekers specifically.
Have you had any experiences of being stereotyped because of your age, religion, ethnicity or gender that you would like to share? Even your fashion choices can lead to stereotyping: look at how often how a woman dressed is raised in a rape case, for example.
What stereotypes do you know you hold and try to remove from your thought processes? Many of the stereotypical thoughts we hold we “inherited” from our parents or social environment growing up.
Have you thrown any stereotypes away when you have discovered they are wrong? This question was inspired by Amelia on Surprised by Hindi. In her case, there wasn’t a stereotype involved, but it prompted me to reflect today.
How much of discrimination and prejudice is based in stereotyping?