Are ALL generalizations and stereotypes a bad thing?

I’ve heard it said before that all generalizations are a bad thing. Really? I mean, yes, generalizations or stereotypes are based on hate or prejudice are bad, but, don’t we all, to a certain extent, live our lives based on generalizations? I mean take Cable networks like Lifetime, Oxygen, or WE. They’re all networks aimed at women. This, of course, means making a generalization as to what women find entertaining. Of course there are those, like my wife, who have no interest in watching any of them, but the whole idea behind these networks is that women, in general, like X, Y, and Z. This of course, relies on generalization and stereotyping. If stereotyping is bad, does that mean the these networks are wrong? What about BET, Black Entertainment Television. Again, it’s making a generalization about blacks and what they like and don’t like. And who here is surprised to see woman secretaries and receptionists? And who doesn’t associate black people with rap?
Of course there are male secretaries and receptionists, and of course there are white rappers and white people who listen to rap, but these people are in the minority.
And even if a stereotype is incorrect, does that make it morally wrong? For instance, the whole blacks and Latino’s play better in the heat than whites do, and whites play better in the cold.
Even though factually incorrect, I see nothing wrong with Dusty Baker making that comment since I honestly believe that he had not racist intent when making those statement.
Finally, I will say, that I do believe that acting on some generalizations can be rude, for instance, if you go to a company to meat the president, and a man and woman approach you, and you go to shake the man’s had, assuming he’s the president and the woman’s a secretary, well then yeah, that’s bad.
Anyway, what do you think? Do you believe that there should never be any generalizations made about a group of people? Or doe believe that, to some extent, and within reason, that some are OK?

That’s usually stated jokingly, as in “all generalizations are false, including this one.”

The human brain works by generalizing and catagorizing, so generalizations are not inherently bad. However, overgeneralizing isn’t good, and some generalizations are simply inappropriate (such as your “assuming the male is the boss example”).

If someone says, “All generalizations are wrong,” the sentence would contradict itself because it is a generalization.

I don’t think that all generalizations are wrong – especially when you are referring to small numbers.

But making generalizations about groups of people puts you on shakey ground. I’m not familiar with WE, but I find the Lifetime Channel to be the home of really bad TV movies about women. Most of the women I know had rather watch Bravo, A&E, Discovery Channel – something with some meat to it. I have often wondered if Lifetime is based on some man’s idea of what women like.

And stereotypes are virtually useless and sometimes harmful. If you want to fight ignorance, try to see groups as being a gathering of individuals.

That is not a stereotype. It is based in the reality of statistics. (No cite.) It is stereotyping that has excluded most men from these jobs. And it is stereotyping that has led people to believe that women are best suited for low paying jobs. I sometimes think that men who do as much organizing and juggling as these women are given good salaries and called “Administrative Assistants.”

I don’t associate black people with rap. When I hear rap, I do think of black musicians. But when I think of black people, I think of lots of different people.

If a person knowingly perpetuates a myth, then to me that is immoral. People are responsible for knowing a little about what they are talking about.

Well, it seems that we’re in agreement then. Cool :slight_smile:

An old saying:

“Without generalizations, nothing could be taught.”

They have their function and serve an important purpose. Stereotypes are another matter altogether.

False generalizations are bad; accurate generalizations are good.

Are they?

Yes, that’s very true, but I think it’s human nature to see someone, and, unless you know them, make assumptions based on their age, race and gender. But of course the polite thing to do is keep them to yourself.

:eek: So you’re saying that musicians aren’t people? Just kidding :smiley:

Very true. Unfortunatly, some people are raised on racist or sexist or other kinds of sterotypes and live their lives hanging around others who think like them.

The problem isn’t someone targeting particular entertainment to women. It’s when they expect a particular woman to like it, simple because she’s a woman.