stereotypes...i don't mean sony

I have always been told not to judge a book by it’s cover, and so i try and live my life. but one thing that’s always intriqued me, is how are stereotypes generated.

i don’t want this to turn into a racists debate, but i want to see what the posters think.

obviously (not that they hold any merit) a stereotype is generated after a witness of a commom attribute to a certain people. are they ever justified?

Well, apparently because of my name, I am stereotyped as being anti-Christian, when in fact I am really anti-idiotic fundy Christian.

Ask jodih how stereotypes get started, since she stereotyped me so well…

Yer pal,

Hey, generalizations are sometimes legitimate. And sometimes they are absolutely valuable. For example, a totally racist but accurate statement is that the majority of people living in subsaharan Africa over the age of, say, five cannot drink cow’s milk. (More accurately, they cannot effectively obtain nourishment from it, and it causes digestive upsets to some.) This is clearly defining a racial stereotype, but it is also valuable information for, e.g., someone exporting non-fat dry milk, whether commercially or for a charitable organization. My point is that race is not something to be ignored, just treated as a characteristic.

I know thoughtful and compassionate atheists (some on this board) and thoughtful and compassionate fundamentalist Christians. And I know bigots in both categories. I do not plan on inviting Satan to any church rallies, but if we get into a social justice outreach program, I intend to get in touch with him right away. Why? Because I respect where his head is, on both subjects.

One must deal with the individual and respect his or her dignity. But because there are so many individuals, and because we as human beings cannot learn and index sufficient information about so many individuals, some useful generalizations will help. They only become evil when we mistake their generality/summary/typicality nature for an absolute about all such people.

The best classical clarinetist I’ve ever known was an elderly dairy farmer who looked like how Barney Fife would appear at age 80. His son, who closely resembled Leif Garrett wearing a black wig, turned into an extremely competent meteorologist. A coworker who runs the mailroom/copy center is a trained and competent chemist who just happens to like what she’s doing enough to stay here. The best proofreader of my acquaintance also plays tabla drums professionally and is a competent steelworker with several years construction experience. (FTR, the latter two happen to be black.)

Many stereotypes are true, in a general sense. Or maybe I should say, many stereotypes have elements of truth, even though the stereotype should not be projected onto any given individual without additional evidence.

For example, take the stereotype that “all prison inmates are uneducated.” This stereotype has elements of the truth, depending on what one’s definition of ‘uneducated’ is. The danger of an arbitrary definition is present. Does uneducated mean no high school? dropped out of high school? no college? etc… Most likely, the definition is closer to ‘not as educated as me,’ which, of course, is arbitrary.

The other danger is in the use of the word “all.” Of course some prison inmates are very educated. The Unibomber has a Ph.D(?) from Berkeley. But taken as a general statement, the stereotype of the uneducated prisoner is based in observable fact.

Where people run into trouble, I think, is when one tries to paint with a wide brush and make blanket assumptions based on the stereotype.

I’m sure there are myriads of other examples that can be given.

Oh, I didn’t even realize this was the Pit. Never having posted in this forum, I"m not sure what comes next. Let’s see…how about, BITE ME YOU FUCKING NIMRODS!

Did I do that right?

I got in trouble once for gender bias in high school. I was in a play, and of course we tried to be as professional as possible so we used makeup. Us boys were all half-nekkid in the dressing room trying to get our makeup to look passable (take that out of context!), when the director came in and said, “Hey guys, we’re waiting for you at the pre-curtain meeting”. I thought, who’s “we”? Half the cast was still messing around with our makeup!

After the director left, I muttered, “You know, girls tend to have a little more experience putting makeup on than us.”

The reply, “That was a sexist comment”. From a male. Another actor stood up for me though.

Nice try, but I’m not sure Nimrod is defamatory. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:


The name of a descendant of Chus (Cush), son of Cham (Ham), represented in Gen., x, 8-12, as the founder of the Babylonian empire and as a mighty hunter before the Lord. This last may be taken in the strict sense — hunter of wild beasts, for such we know the Babylonian princes to have been; or in the sense of warrior, the original word gibbor having the meaning “hero.”

“The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.” - Humphrey Bogart

“Stereotype” has evolved from its original usage–check the dictionary. I don’t think of the word as meaning “all of you (whatever) people exhibit this behavior.” I take it to mean “a disproportionate percentage of you (whatever) people exhibit this behavior.” So, IMHO, if 5% of this type of people of whatever group do “this,” and 20% of people in another group do “this,” then “this” (whatever it is) is going to become a sterotyped behavior.

Folks are just different, and there’s nothing bad about that. You don’t see many Black heavy metal or country recording artists. You don’t see many honky gangsta rappers.

So, to answer the OP, “yes.”