Cultural Stereotypes Essay
Introduction Cultural stereotypes may seem humorous but they can harm people. While many people understand and accept this as true, a “case study” approach, in the form of personal testimony, is often more valuable than a truckload of research. The definition of a stereotype is any commonly known public belief about a certain social group or a type of individual. Stereotypes are often confused with prejudices, because, like prejudices, a stereotype is based on a prior assumption. Stereotypes are often created about people of specific cultures or races.
Almost every culture or race has a stereotype, including Jewish people, African American people, Irish people, and Polish people, among others. Stereotypes are not just centered on different races and backgrounds, however. Gender stereotypes also exist. For example, if you say that men are better than women, you’re stereotyping all men and all women. If you say that all women like to cook, you are stereotyping women. Sexual orientation stereotypes are also common. These stereotypes occur when you have negative views on gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals.
People who have these negative views are often known as homophobic. Every culture has many different stereotypes about other cultures. A stereotype is a statement that simplifies human and social realities. It is a single quality that is said to belong to every member of a group. Stereotypes are based on incomplete or faulty information. They get in the way of knowing people as individuals and of understanding the world in a complex and sophisticated way. They can lead to serious misunderstandings. 1. The term «stereotype» To understand different examples of stereotypes, you should first define what a stereotype is.
Any time you grouping races or individuals together and make a judgment about them without knowing them, this is an example of a stereotype. Racial remarks, sexual remarks, and gender remarks are the biggest stereotypes. Stereotyping is especially prevalent — and problematic — in conflicts. Groups tend to define themselves according to who they are and who they are not. And “others,” especially “enemies” or “opponents” are often viewed in very negative ways. The opponent is expected to be aggressive, self-serving, and deceitful, for example, while people in one’s own group are seen in generally positive ways.
Similarly, if problems occur, blame is often placed on “the enemy,” while one’s own contribution to the problem is ignored. For example, problems may be attributed to the opponent’s lack of cooperativeness, not one’s own; or the enemy’s aggressiveness, not their fear of one’s own aggressive stance. Even similarities between parties can be viewed differently: one’s own competitiveness may be seen in a positive light as “tough, effective negotiating,” while the opponent’s competitive actions are seen as “hostile and deceptive.
” Such stereotypes tend to be self-perpetuating. If one side assumes the other side is deceitful and aggressive, they will tend to respond deceitfully and aggressively themselves. The opponent will then develop a similar image of the first party and respond deceptively, thus confirming the initial stereotype. The stereotypes may even grow worse, as communication shuts down and escalation heightens emotions and tension. According to the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology , a stereotype is a way of representing and judging other people in fixed, unyielding terms.
Stereotypes can revolve around a certain characteristic of the group of persons to which they are assigned. Generally, the persons of that group are reduced to being known and understood as the stereotype that results from this, rather than being viewed as individuals. Stereotypes refuse to recognize a distinction between an individual and the group to which he or she belongs. Stereotypes represent people entirely in terms of narrow assumptions about their biology, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, or any other number of categories.
Stereotypes can be based on: * Historical factors * Simplification * Exaggeration * Presentation of cultural attributes as being ‘natural’ * Racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination * Association of persons with other groups * Physical Disorders Possible prejudicial effects of stereotypes are: * Justification of ill-founded prejudices or ignorance * Unwillingness to rethink one’s attitudes and behavior towards stereotyped group *.
Self-fulfilling prophecy for both stereotyping and stereotyped group (e. g.white people treat black people in a more hostile way because they are afraid of them; black people accordingly react more aggressively, thus confirming the stereotype) * Preventing some people of stereotyped groups from succeeding in activities or fields 2. Common Stereotypes 2. 1. African Americans One of the more common stereotype examples is stereotypes surrounding African Americans. Saying that all African Americans are good at sports is a stereotype, because it’s grouping the race together to indicate that everyone of that race is a good athlete. 2. 2. Men and Women.
There are also some common stereotypes of men and women, such as: Men are strong and do all the work. Men are the “backbone. ” Women aren’t as smart as a man. Women can’t do as good of a job as a man. Girls are not good at sports. Guys are messy and unclean. Men who spend too much time on the computer or read are geeks. 2. 3. Cultures Stereotypes also exist about cultures an countries as a whole. Stereotype examples of this sort include the premises that: All white Americans are obese, lazy, and dim-witted. Homer Simpson of the TV series The Simpsons is the personification of this stereotype.
Mexican stereotypes suggest that all Mexicans are lazy and came into America illegally. All Arabs and Muslims are terrorists. All people who live in England have bad teeth. Italian or French people are the best lovers. All African Americans outside of the United States are poor. All Jews are greedy. All Asians are good at math. All Asians like to eat rice and drive slow. All Irish people are drunks and eat potatoes. All Americans are generally considered to be friendly, generous, and tolerant, but also arrogant, impatient, and domineering.
Jews are believed to be shrewd, mercenary, industrious, intelligent loyal to family, grasping, ambitious, sly and persistent. They are also credited with being very religious. For Chinese, as one would have expected, are looked upon with more favour by English, who consider them industrious, courteous, meditative, intelligent and loyal to their families, then by the Americans, who consider them superstitious, sly, conservative, ignorant and deceitful. The French are sophisticated, talkative, artistic, passionate and witty, whereas the Russians are industrious, tough, suspicious, brave and progressive.
The English consider themselves sportsmanlike, reserved, traditional loving, conventional and intelligent. Americans agree adding, however, that English are also sophisticated, courteous, honest, industrious, extremely nationalistic and humorless. The Americans consider themselves industrious, intelligent, materialistic, ambitious, progressive, pleasure loving, alert, efficient, straightforward, practical and sportsmanlike. 2. 4. Groups of Individuals A different type of stereotype also involves grouping of individuals. Skaters, Goths, Gangsters, and Preps are a few examples.
Most of this stereotyping is taking place in schools. For example: Goths wear black clothes, black makeup, are depressed and hated by society. Punks wear mohawks, spikes, chains, are a menace to society and are always getting in trouble. All politicians are philanders and think only of personal gain and benefit. Girls are only concerned about physical appearance. All blonds are unintelligent. All librarians are women who are old, wear glasses, tie a high bun, and have a perpetual frown on their face. All teenagers are rebels. All children don’t enjoy healthy food. Only anorexic women can become models. Sexual Stereotypes.
Sexual stereotypes, on the other hand, suggest that any feminine man is gay and any masculine woman is a lesbian. Those who believe gay stereotypes may also believe that homosexuality is immoral, wrong and an abomination. 3. The Positive Side of Stereotypes Although stereotypes generally have negative implications, they aren’t necessarily negative. Stereotypes are basically generalizations that are made about groups. Such generalizations are necessary: in order to be able to interact effectively, we must have some idea of what people are likely to be like, which behaviors will be considered acceptable, and which not.
For example, elsewhere in this system there is an essay about high-context and low-context cultures. People in low-context cultures are said to be more individualistic, their communication more overt, depending less on context and shared understandings. High-context cultures are more group-oriented. Their communication is more contextually based, depending more on shared understandings and inferences. Such generalizations are, in essence, stereotypes.
They allow us to put people into a category, according to the group they belong to, and make inferences about how they will behave based on that grouping. There will still be differences between individuals from one culture, and with the same individual in different situations. But the stereotype is reasonably accurate, so it is useful. Stereotypes are only a problem when they are inaccurate, especially when those inaccuracies are negative and hostile. Conclusion Stereotypes are simplified and/or standardized conceptions or images with specific meaning, often held in common by members of a group.
A stereotype can be a conventional and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image. Stereotypes can range from those that are wildly inaccurate and negative to those that are more than a little bit true and may even shed positive light upon the group of individuals. They are typically generalizations based on minimal or limited knowledge about a group to which the person doing the stereotyping does not belong. Persons may be grouped based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any number of other categories.