11.15.2010

The Problem with Stereotypes: It Isn't What You Think

The problem with stereotyping is not what racial minority groups and the liberal media would have us believe. The problem with stereotyping is NOT that it is a form of unfair and incorrect bias. No, no, no. In fact, if I had their phone numbers, I would personally call Al Sharpton for African-Americans and Anderson Cooper for the differently-abled and Rosie O'Donnell for those with non-traditional sexual orientations and tell them to take a load off, kick off those leather loafers, plop down into their La-Z-Boys, and throw back a forty, or a milkshake, or a Seabreeze, or whatever. They've been working hard alongside their colleagues, fighting for the rights of the unloved, differently-loved, and unlovable, and I dare say that at this point, they've really made some headway. I know, I know...I'm a white, college-educated, middle-class woman. I BARELY fall into a discriminated class, and do so only by virtue of my having breasts. The women's libbers really took it on the well-powdered chin for us girls in the 70s and 80s, and as a benefactor, I refuse to let the lost lives of countless bras burned at the stake go forgotten and in vain. When I find the random pubic hair on my soda can or sit helplessly as a talking head above the cleavage with which my boss is having a ten-minute conversation about how his wife won't let him play golf on the weekends, I'm not offended. I'm grateful that they haven't forgotten I am, after all, a woman. I may have to bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, open my own doors, put on my own coat, carry my own groceries, and pay for my own dinner on dates, but at least in the workplace I can count on some ogling, albeit sans groping. Still, it's nice to be objectified once in a while.

But I digress. Stereotyping IS a problem. But not because it's unfair to paint old Asian women as bad drivers, politicians as sleezebags, and the Irish as drunkards. It may NOT be nice to paint them all with the same brush, but it is also NOT wholly inaccurate. And before you get all up in arms about my prejudices, just relax, Senator Eun Joo McNeil. The problem with stereotypes is not that they are inaccurate, but that they are typically SO accurate it hurts. There are enough morons in each demographic slice to keep the generalities going. And herein lies the problem for me--and all of us.

I am a woman. An emotional, PMS-suffering, shoe-loving, baby-wanting, chick-flick-watching, chocolate-craving woman. Without apology, I embrace and embody all that it is to be an XX chromosome bearer. However, I refuse to have ALL female-related stereotypes laid on my back like so much baggage on a packmule without being asked if each applies. In accordance with new baggage restrictions, please consider the following before traveling by airplane or said packmule:

* Just because I am divorced does not mean I'm bitter.
* Just because I am over 40 does not mean I'm desperate.
* Just because I am single does not mean I have cats.
* Just because I teach does not mean I can't do.
* Just because I am brunette does not mean I don't have fun.
* Just because I believe in God does not mean I am gullible.
* Just because I am a registered Republican does not make me evil.
* Just because I watch "Jersey Shore" does not mean I am dumb.
* Just because I read poetry does not mean I am smart.
* Just because I am white doesn't mean I can't dance.
* Just because I am a woman doesn't mean I can't swear, screw and scrap like a man.

The point is, if you are a gullible Christian, a desperate single woman, a bitter divorcee, a boring brunette, or any of the other aforementioned stereotypes, please consider the damage you are doing to all of us by refusing to be your own special kind of stupid or smart or smug. It's hard enough being the imperfect me, but to have to live down all the low expectations that go along with belonging to your clubs is more than one girl can handle. I don't pay dues, so I shouldn't have to bear your charter. And frankly, neither should you.

1 comment:

Miss Grouchy said...

I respectfully disagree. You did, however, manage to keep my attention for the entire blog. Every word. Good. job.