Sunday, 24 June 2012

Good stereotypes and bad stereotypes

We who think and act are aware that stereotypes exist in this world and that for almost everything there are stereotypes. But on further observation, I reckon that there are good and bad stereotypes. It is the so called 'bad' or 'negative' stereotypes that we should be wary of. Sometimes even the positive ones might land us into trouble.

Now what are the good or positive stereotypes? When we say that a people of certain community cook delicious food, we positively stereotype that community. We assume that every member of that community cook great food. But taking for granted that everyone in that community has to cook well is taking the assumption too far. You get what I mean? Sometimes it so happens that when we ask a member of that community to cook and that individual knows no cooking, then the stereotyping turns into shades of gray. In one film, I think, Freedom Writers, a teacher asks a young Afro-American girl to narrate her 'black experience.' But that girl hasn't experienced anything like that and is at a loss to explain what was asked. Here, the teacher takes it for granted that since the girl is coloured, she will be able to explain the 'black experience.' The girl is offended. Look what stereotypes could do! Now this is an example of a negative-positive stereotype.



Matters associated with beauty, art and specific techniques commonly classify under good stereotypes while certain peculiar habits, and their ilk are examples of bad stereotypes. What I understand is that stereotypes, either good or bad should be used in moderation. Sometimes even the good stereotyping can turn out to be premeditation of a particular person or community. Hence, I reckon that it is always best to restrain our preconceived notions about anything and anyone, otherwise we will lose the element of being surprised.

My dear readers, I know that you are wise enough not to stereotype, so please tell me what did you think about this post.

Image: Internet

31 comments:

  1. I get irked whenever some one calls a South Indian as a Madrasi...there are four states in the south for God's sake! What is say is true...stereotypes are there but, we should apply caution while categorizing them.

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    1. That stereotype is one of the oldest and most stupidest, Janu. I share your sentiments on this.

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  2. i agree wholeheartedly about using stereotypes in moderation...but some people even use being stereotyped for their own benefit...pathetic i guess, but they do it for identity politics maybe..

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    1. Yes, sometimes people use stereotypes for their own benefits but do they actually realise that they are stereotyping.

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  3. first...freeddom writers is a great book...have it on the bookshelf back home...i think our minds naturally compartmentalize to hold it together...the bad part is when this spills over into life and we begin to make genralizations because that opens the door for bad things...

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    1. Yes Brian, you have expressed this before about Freedom Writers. I am yet to read the book but have seen the movie.

      Our minds are conditioned so. Wonder how many things we have to uncondition before being labelled 'wise.'

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  4. generalisation nevr works, its always individuals and their traits...

    Janu.ven north has 5 states or may be more but we are all called north Indians, and I dont find anything offending about..

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    1. Renu...I didn't mean to offend...but, North East has many States but, most of them are referred to as Assamese...I find it offending when people generalize South Indians as Madarasis...especially, a Kannadiga!

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    2. The north/south stereotypes are always present in almost everyone except few who go beyond the usual.

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  5. This post actually reminds me of something really silly that an English teacher used to tell us often, "When you assume, you make an ass out of 'u' and 'me'." So yeah, stereotypes make you assume things that there is otherwise no reason to assume about a person - they make you a tiny bit prejudiced about everything.

    I think it's a pretty natural human tendency to want to slot people into categories or label them so they're easier to classify but everyone has so many quirks that more often than not, stereotypes - positive or negative are bound to fail.

    Like, for example, about Goans people have this stereotype that we're all like laidback and chilled out and beer-drinker types and that all Goans are Christians. So when I tell people I'm from there, people are like, "How can you be Goan?" or that I like to eat only seafood or something.

    I guess it goes on about pretty much every linguistic group or community in our country that we have stereotypes about.

    After working in our hospital for these past few years, I've realised it's best to take people for themselves. Everyone's really unique and just because people might belong to the same social strata or religion or region, doesn't mean they all think or act in similar ways. :)

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    1. The moral of the post is, "it's best to take people for themselves. Everyone's really unique and just because people might belong to the same social strata or religion or region, doesn't mean they all think or act in similar ways. :)"

      I like the way you sum up neatly whatever that has to be said. Lowe you for that.

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    2. Thank you, Susan! And I love you for all the awesome posts you write. :)

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  6. u r right even seemingly positive stereotypes can be a problem - type casting anyone should be avoided!

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    1. If we slightly lean towards the often said, then we should check ourselves.
      Awareness and being conscious of what we say and think is the key rule, I reckon.

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  7. "Yes," said the studious Chinese youth, pointing at his overbearing parents, "feel free to indulge in stereotyping."

    Oddly, the black man with no ability to dance didn't agree, nor did the hard-working legal hispanic immigrant. And Trayvon Martin was not available for comment.

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    1. Welcome to the meanderings, Cynic. The stereotypes you are talking about here are foreign to me. Can I thank you for educating me!!?!? On second thoughts, I didn't know that black men don't dance! Surprise surprise.

      RIP, Trayvon Martin. And thanks for sharing this name with me. I googled the name and read up the news bit. You have another stereotype -- Indians don't much know about what's happening outside India until it's Federer or Angelina Jolie. Forgot to mention Obama!

      Thanks for stopping by Cynic. A little bit of cynicism is good for the well-being of the society.

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    2. Haha, I'll help. The stereotype goes that every black man is a great dancer (or a rapper) and that hispanics are illegal immigrants while the studious Chinese kid and his overbearing parents are almost as stereotyped as we Indians are. :D

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  8. I think it's always important to individualize people, to really "see" them and get to know who they really are.

    Nice to read your post. Hope you're doing well.

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    1. Well-said Myrna. That's exactly what we should strive for.

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  9. Benedictine monks make good liqueur! OH?
    I know of one who wrote good books!

    I can understand when profiling is a
    necessity. But so easily, quickly
    can it grow, get out of hand, become illegal.

    Susan, did I ever tell you I think you write good?
    And (I like this) you teach peeps even while
    they do not realize they are being taught,
    are actually learning something. THAT is an art!
    A gift, neither learned nor earned.

    Love and Peace always, Susan!
    Steve

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    1. This post is teaching me a lot of stereotypes out there which I didn't know before. Thanks Steve.

      I have said this before many times but still I say this again - Your comments make me smile and glow. thanks for giving joy, dearest Steve.

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  10. I think stereotyping is a comfortable way to classify people and sort them out and predict their actions. It makes others feel safe as anything unpredictable and unknown is scary. I have been stereotyped a few times, but it does not bother me as I enjoy to see the surprise in peoples eyes when they realize they were wrong.;)
    Have a great week dear Susan,
    xoxo

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    1. The surprise element is wonderful but sometimes anger also rises at the naivete of people. How can people be so generalising.

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  11. Well Said, Stereotyping does more harm than help!

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    1. Welcome here, Jaish.

      Thanks for your visit. And, you are right about stereotyping. It always creates uneasiness and hurt.

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  12. I agree and think even positive stereotypes show our own uncomfortableness perhaps with someone different, so much so that we have to point out just how good they are at something rather than treating them the same we would everyone else. I have done this before but I recognize it is a bit patronizing as well. Wonderful post and interesting comments!

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    1. Hey Colleen, what a joy to see you here after such a long long time.

      Hope you've been well and happy. Hope your little one is happy as ever.

      Sometimes we wonder how to treat people and manage them. How is the question!!

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  13. I stereotype whether I like it or not and I am stereotyped whether I like it or not. I hate going to hispanic parties because Colombia and the city I am from, Cali, is known as "the capital of dance". Everyone knows how to dance, everyone is a great dancer...ehm, not everyone...

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    1. Hmmmmm. Well, even I stereotype . . . sometimes. People find it difficult to slot me and hence I escape the surprise element ;)

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  14. It is always better to keep away from stereotyping people, coz as you said you never know the entire picture. I try and avoid as much to generalize.

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  15. I loved this post. Thank you. I've been myself in a situation similar to the one of the colored girl and her teacher. Since I come from a country in the Middle East, and when I traveled to Europe, I heard all kind of questions and criticism. People wouldn't believe I was Christian, they wouldn't believe I didn't need to cover my head, and I was accused to be a terrorist.

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