We as human beings have a habit of seeing each other as a monolith. A solid representation, a meaning we impose based on what we think we know from certain stereotypes of a person or group.
Someone is a geek, a nerd, nice, mean, bitter, angry, snobbish, flighty and the list goes on.
We do this automatically most times and rob ourselves of valuable encounters that will help us to grow and learn more.
How often do we pause and think about our own reaction to others after stereotyping them?
Why do we Stereotype others?
Perhaps we feel threatened by something we see in them, so we use this to make ourselves feel better?
Is because we think we know so much about all groups of people, based on our exposure through the media, relatives, friends and the like?
Does stereotyping others help us to brace ourselves for an encounter?
What exactly is the benefit of administering negative or positive stereotypes on others?
The irony is that it’s often the negative and nasty things in us that causes us to stereotype others negatively. It is never from a good place.
How do you react to Being negatively Stereotyped?
It is a weird world that we live in. Certain stereotypes of me as a black woman crop up as I travel to many countries in Asia. Blackness isn’t desired unless you have a certain fetish. Everyone wants to be white and this is evident in the whitening in almost all skincare products in shops. It’s a common past time to refer to me using animalistic terms of which gorilla seems to be a favourite. I have visited Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Taiwan, China, The Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea and I live in Japan. I can count on three fingers the countries where I was simply viewed as a person.
I am stereotyped as African (we all know the negative stereotypes sadly, for a diverse number of people from 54 nations), a soon to be murderer, pickpocket, concubine and others.
I am an English teacher and among others (see above) in Japan. Some people will stereotype me based on this coupled with their love or hatred for the language.
In parts of Europe I was a trollop. Someone to subject to cruel hand movements beckoning me for my services.
In other places, I am stereotyped as rich because I am a traveller.
The stereotypes never seem to end.
Stereotyping is what we do
No one likes to be on the receiving end of negative stereotyping but it’s what us humans do. We are conditioned by the forces around us and our very natures to do this. Does this mean it’s ok? Of course not.
The problem isn’t stereotyping. It is allowing these stereotypes to cause us to be mean to others or to give others undue favours.
It would be nice if everyone would get the chance to prove himself or herself before the stereotypes morph into absolute knowing.
Ultimately, we can only navigate our lives amongst these stereotypes and use opportunities we get to to help others become more knowledgeable.