Stereotypes

Tuesday, 4 March 2003

dis­cussing stereo­types has re­sulted in the fol­low­ing con­clu­sions.

Critical Assumptions:

  1. Stereotypes are false.
  2. Stereotypes are neg­a­tive.
  3. Stereotypes are ex­ter­nally im­posed.

Stereotypes are nei­ther false nor true, but are the re­sult of the os­si­fi­ca­tion of value judg­ments into ap­par­ent facts. Quite of­ten the foun­da­tion of the stereo­type lies within fact (ex: a woman is usu­ally found in the home, cook­ing, rais­ing chil­dren, etc.) now, while this is not true for all women, it has in the past been true of most women, there­fore it is based in fact. However when the state­ment be­comes ‘A woman’s place is in the home’ a stereo­type has ap­peared. Why? A value judg­ment has been made. ‘A woman’s place is in the home’ is ac­tu­ally say­ing that the proper place for a woman (also im­proper for a man) is in the home. It is a state­ment of what ought to be, not nec­es­sar­ily what is. This value cod­i­fi­ca­tion into fact ig­nores the re­al­ity of change in roles and as­so­ci­a­tions. The value judg­ment in­her­ent in a stereo­type is what makes it false, be­cause val­ues are sub­jec­tive.

Stereotypes are neg­a­tive. Well, most peo­ple agree with this, but there are ex­am­ples of stereo­types that are em­braced. The American cow­boy for ex­am­ple. Rugged in­di­vid­u­al­ism, on the fron­tier, Manifest Destiny, a chance to make good, and the au­ton­omy pos­ses­sion of a gun and the knowl­edge of its use en­tails, all of­fer an ap­peal­ing ex­am­ple of the American ideal. People latch on to this ro­man­ti­cized im­age, be­cause of the stereo­typ­ing, even though the ac­tual life of a cow­boy was very lit­tle like the west­ern por­trays it. per­haps the con­tem­po­rary ex­am­ple is how peo­ple adapt them­selves to fit a cer­tain im­age be it techno-geek, euro-punk, scrawny-mod­e­lesque or what have you. Unfortunately an im­age is just that, not re­al­ity. so we live as stereo­types. People see them­selves within a type and em­brace that. I feel that the need to do so is fun­da­men­tally neg­a­tive how­ever.

All that leads to the dis­cus­sion of ex­ter­nal im­po­si­tion. While the value judg­ment of the stereo­type is cre­ated ex­ter­nally (ex: Irish stereo­types of vi­o­lence, drunk­en­ness, etc. were cre­ated by the British dur­ing col­o­niza­tion) the peo­ple these judg­ments are ap­plied to must ei­ther ig­nore them and hope they go away (in­ef­fec­tive) or in­ter­nal­ize them and adapt. This in­ter­nal­iza­tion can have two ma­jor ef­fects. The stereo­typed group/​person can live with it. Or use the stereo­type as a weapon to fight it­self. (ex: some rap that uses nig­ger in a way that throws its loaded sig­nif­i­cance right back into the faces of white su­prema­cist cap­i­tal­ist pa­tri­archy). It takes alot of courage to be able to do this, quite of­ten it can back­fire.

I’m sure i’ve just writ­ten that loaded with value judg­ments, so i’m stereo­typ­ing stereo­types. hyp­ocrite!