Stereotypes are general assumptions held about the characteristics of a particular group of people. There is no specific reason for these assumptions; it could be due to their culture, religion, race or community. Girls are not good at sports. Men who like pink are effeminate. All teenagers are rebel. All Muslims are terrorists. Black people are criminals. These are some famous stereotypes examples representing commonly conventional beliefs about a particular type of group, gender or culture.
Stereotypes are a result of judging the people without even knowing them at first place or by having only limited knowledge about them. Once Albert Einstein said, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”, and it is so true. The limited knowledge about someone is the main reason that contributes to making false assumptions and these false assumptions are the reason behind the existence of stereotypes.
“Stereotypes are fast and easy, but they are lies, and the truth takes its time”- Deb Caletti
Somebody has said, “If there is smoke, there is fire” and I guess you do agree with this too. Am I being diplomatic here? No, I’m not. I want to make sure that you get aware of all sides of the theory instead direct jumping to a conclusion. According to Cardwell (1996), “A stereotype is a fixed but over generalized belief about a particular group or class of people” Therefore, you can’t say that every stereotype is a false assumption. Sometimes they are true but somewhat oversimplified.
However, isn’t the oversimplification of an individual or group enables us to respond quickly to the situation?
Well! It’s okay. It’s somewhat true after all. But isn’t this over generalization helping you since centuries? Think of it!
Germans drink a lot of beer. Canadians are polite. Americans are loud. Women love to talk. The Dutch are addicted to cheese. Bikers dressed in leather. French are romantic. All Latinos dance well. All Indians are deeply spiritual. These are some examples of stereotypes that are true to an extent.
“The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story” - Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Racial stereotypes are exaggerated mental pictures that you create about all the members of a specific race. When you categorize people based on race, you actually neglect their individual differences. You forget that every person on this planet is unique and born with the inner beauty that cannot be judged by their appearance, or in general, their color. Every day we heard oodles of racist comment on social media sites and meet different people having a different perspective on them.
There still are people who spend a large amount of money on their outer appearance. This is not because they want to, but because this society forced them to do so. Do you know Leila Lopes? She is black, yet earned the title of Miss Universe in 2011. Her beauty, brains, and grace are a perfect slap on people who think that being black is ugly.
While racial stereotypes are hurtful and oppressive most of the time, they have also proved to be a good deal of motivation and encouragement.
“When people rely on surface appearances and false racial stereotypes, rather than in-depth knowledge of others at the level of the heart, mind, and spirit, their ability to assess and understand people accurately is compromised.” - James A. Forbes
Cultural stereotypes are opinions about another person based on who they are, the language they speak, or where they are from without getting to know the individual. It could a medium to express feelings or to take out anger. People don’t think about the circumstances before making their judgment, all they want is to make themselves feel superior from other culture or religion.
Culture stereotyping not only hurt people of other cultures but also affects their morale. You easily form an impression about the people of a particular culture on limited interaction. Some Muslims are involved in terrorist activities doesn’t allow you to make perception that all the Muslims you have met and will meet in future will be terrorist.
Grow up, people!
“Stereotypes, they are sensual, cultural weapons. That is the way that we attack people. At an artistic level, stereotypes are terrible writing.” - Junot Diaz
“Don’t cry! Be a Man.”
“You are a Woman, you can’t drive.”
How often have you heard these comments in your life? Every day you meet some people who judge you on the basis of your gender; your family members, your neighbors or they can be anyone. Some people get infuriated by gender-based comments, while others ignore it seeing the lighter side of this never-ending battle between genders.
The overgeneralization of differences, attributes, characteristics, and behavior on the basis of a person’s gender is not new. They took birth when your grandmother was not even born. It has now become the most complex and global issue and the primary reason behind this is orthodox mentality and media.
If we do into deep, there is no secret that gender stereotypes are the product of cultural differences. According to an article published on Gender stereotypes, In Iceland, only 3.6% of the population believes that women have less right to do jobs than men, whereas the results are completely opposite for Egypt. In Egypt, about 94.9% populations believe this theory about women.
Stand up and change the trend!
“Both Men and Women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideal” - Emma Watson
Now you have enough knowledge about stereotypes and its various types. Let’s now move from general to specific. Even the strongest country of the world is dealing with this problem. In U.S, stereotypes exist on the basis of various groups found within their culture and there are also some presumptions made for American people. Are they true or not? Well! Know about them and decide by yourself.
Are you an aficionado of American television series and movies? I am sure you are. Have you seen some specific qualities of Americans, portrayed in most the movies? They are generous. Yes, they are! They are hard working. You are right again! However, the ugly truth is that they are Racist too. (No offense, only a stereotype) Here is the list.
Go and try!
As fearless as a lion, he is Man.
As soft as a feather, she is Woman.
As shameful as a slut, she is Model.
As pure as snow, she under the Veil.
As bare as a stone, she is Dreamer.
As dangerous as a shark, they are Muslims.
As obsolete as the history, they are Hindus.
As aggressive as a wolf, they are Blacks.
As intelligent as a scholar, they are Whites.
And, as endless as the sea… as fake as a hoax… as painful as death… they are Stereotypes!
Between the ambiguity of how to think and what to think, the past ridden stereotypes kept growing older and older. Had you been teaching the way to think of teaching coercively to believe the concrete labels, stereotypes would have never killed the dreams which never got wings to fly.
To bring a change you got to see the change. Get over the labels. Live and let live. You should learn to respect and understand other religions, cultures, and ethnicity.
“The problem with labels is that they lead to stereotypes and stereotypes lead to generalizations and generalizations lead to assumptions and assumptions lead back to stereotypes. Stop labeling people!” - Ellen Degeneres