This is the first entry in my series, Stereotypes.
In this article, I will be discussing just a few of the many stereotypes which are often unconsciously espoused within Westernized culture (and sometimes beyond).
Stereotype #1: Blondes are dumb.
“Seriously?!” you may be thinking. “I may joke about blondes, but lady, chill. It’s not like I really think blondes are dumber. Can’t you tolerate a joke?”
Perhaps you don’t consider blondes to be any less intelligent than the rest of the population. However, these jokes do perpetuate the stereotype that blonde people (particularly blonde women) are relatively dim and half-witted. Additionally, stereotypes frequently bury themselves within the subconscious, so we may be unaware if we uphold or promote a particular pattern of thinking (e.g. Blondes are dotty sex objects, concerned only with shopping, looking pretty, and getting laid).
Not convinced this is an issue? Studies have demonstrated the prevalence of the cultural mindset – particularly among men – that blonde women are less intelligent, as compared with their brunette counterparts.
Blondes and intelligence:
Stereotype #2: Feminine = weak
While women are generally (sometimes accurately, sometimes not) considered physically weaker than men, I’m not referencing that topic here.
What I am referring to is the assumption (particularly in the workplace, but also in other areas of life) that women – especially those who act and dress in a “feminine” way – are emotionally, mentally, or professionally weak and incapable of getting their s**t together. Who exactly decided what manner, apparel, and qualities are considered feminine, I don’t know, but females who adopt any of these “ladylike” or “soft” characteristics may be perceived as unprofessional, incapable of leadership, or as a target for manipulation (e.g. lower pay than men, for the same job and loyalty) and passed over for promotions. In many fields, a woman benefits professionally from adopting more “masculine” traits.
And yet, women are expected to act and dress in a “feminine” way and not to be “too aggressive or assertive.” If they do, they’re seen as domineering, annoying, or bossy, and are typically also passed over for opportunities if they err on this side.
“Feminine” women (e.g. women who speak softly, wear much makeup, or wear heels) – as well as women who are shorter, matching the stereotypical “feminine” height – are often paid less or skipped for promotions, because these qualities and presentation choices are associated with weakness. However, overly “tough” or “masculine” ladies may be seen as irritating and not “agreeable enough” (or sexually appealing enough? Hm…).
They can’t win.
Women are not truly free to express themselves as they are – not if they wish to create or maintain a successful career, that is.
They are passed over as “too weak” (i.e. feminine), yet they are also expected to act “feminine” (which will translate to them being perceived as “weak”).
(Note: I don’t think there is a “feminine” way of dressing, per se. My school of thought is that, generally speaking, whatever apparel and manner makes a woman feel most comfortable – most like herself – is feminine. For example, pink is not necessarily more womanly/girly. Interesting fact: pink was once considered a masculine color, while blue was considered feminine.)
Stereotype #3: African Americans are a greater societal threat.
The truth is, African Americans do get pulled over more by police.
A study revealed that in Chicago in 2013, among drivers pulled over, a higher percentage of Caucasian individuals were likely to be found in possession of contraband, than African Americans. Yet more African Americans were targeted.
Just to be clear, I’m not in the least seeking to bash our police force. I deeply appreciate the tireless efforts and many personal sacrifices they make on a day-to-day basis to keep us all safe. If they stopped doing what they do, we’d likely be preoccupied with threats unrelated to racial profiling.
I’m just saying that when African Americans say they’re being targeted, they’re not crazy. They’re not just making that up.
I am not African-American. My skin is as pasty as white rice. I am melanin-deficient. I don’t have firsthand experience of what it’s like being black, but I don’t believe that African Americans are generally hallucinating when they cry “discrimination!” White supremacists still exist. Hatred still exists. Bigotry is not dead. Stereotypes are alive and well.
Sure, some of us (regardless of skin color) are super sensitive, and prone to perceiving unreal threats. Sure, some of us will abuse the system and sue for “discrimination”, when discrimination was never even an issue. The discrimination allegation has been milked to the advantage of some. But that doesn’t mean that everyone crying “wolf” didn’t actually see a wolf.
In all honesty, it angers me when individuals claim that those from another demographic are treated fairly and equally. How would they know that, if they don’t match that demographic and haven’t experienced the discrimination firsthand?
I’ve essentially heard people say, “Nah, African Americans have just been indoctrinated with revisionist history and inculcated with a victim’s mentality! Discrimination isn’t an issue anymore!”
How can you know what it’s like to walk in shoes you’ve never worn?
Yes, revisionist history still exists. So does prejudice. I don’t expect either one to ever die.
On that depressing thought….
Stereotype #4: Quiet people are “shy”.
In a Westernized, extroverted culture where chatter and small talk are the norm, a quiet observer may be considered unusual. Many talkative people can’t imagine not wanting to talk, and they may assume that no person who is mentally well-adjusted would avert constant dialogue, either.
So their minds attempt to identify another reason that a quiet person might not be talking, because, in the talkative individual’s mind, not talking is not normal, and a truly healthy individual would speak more. Something must be inhibiting them. Ah, shyness! That must be it! They’re afraid of judgment from others.
Well, if they’re already being judged as “shy”, then maybe. 🙂
While shyness is certainly a possible explanation for quietness, it is far less common or intense among quiet people than talkative persons may assume.
Quiet people may be quiet for a number of reasons unrelated to shyness:
- They draw energy from peace and quiet, and from being alone in their thoughts.
- They enjoy observing people and things, and talking diverts them from this.
- Their brains are chewing over so much information that they don’t have the energy or “brain space” to focus on conversation.
- They know they are viewed as shy because of their quietness, so they become self-conscious about how they’re coming across, and that makes them less confident in public, which motivates them to make themselves unnoticeable, perpetuating their quietness and “shy” demeanor.
- They are tired.
- They have many thoughts, but filter out most of them before those thoughts travel to their mouths. They don’t want to say something that’s not worth the “speech space”, or something they’ll end up regretting.
- They’re busy listening to the things you aren’t saying (unspoken messages, vibes, the pain in your soul that you think you’re effectively concealing), and that distracts them from responding to the things you’re verbally saying.
Did this resonate with you? Did it ruffle your feathers? Are there any points you would add about the causes or effects of these stereotypes?
© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved