I’ve seen attractive Indian women, and unattractive ones. One of the prettiest girls I know (or knew, as I haven’t seen her in years) was a certain Miss Patel. (No worries giving anything away with a surname like that! Anyway, she’s married now.) She is American, but I think her parents came from India. I found M. very, very attractive.
But ‘average Americans’? That’s a bit like asking what an ‘average Indian’ in India thinks of Group X.
I don’t know. I think a lot of Americans’ exposure to Indians might be limited to ‘Apu’ on The Simpsons. PhD in Computer Science from Caltech (Calcutta Technical Institute), but runs the Kwik-E-Mart. There is a bit of a stereotype that Indians run convenience stores here. Many do. Many don’t. If I see a Sikh, he’ll be behind a counter, driving a cab, or nattily turned out in a business suit. An Indian man was the vice-president of a business division I was in at a former employer, Indians have a reputation for being doctors (one doctor I went to for a flight physical was an Indian woman), and there’s no telling the occupations of Indians I see walking around Seattle at lunchtime.
So I’ve come into contact with Indians in various occupations. I know that India is ethnically and culturally very diverse. Am I an ‘average American’? Maybe I am, and maybe I’m not. But if I were to guess, I’d say that the ‘average American’ doesn’t know enough about India or Indians to have much of an opinion on them one way or another.
I don’t know about, nor have I heard of, a stereotype that Indian men treat women poorly. Not in my database.
As for ‘terrorists’, I think a lot of Americans are… er… ‘unsophisticated’. They see a turban and, especially in these times, think of Arabs. Unfortunately, to many Americans ‘Arabs’ = ‘terrorists’. To me an Sikh’s turban looks very different from an Arab’s, not to mention the facial hair styles and ethnic features. To others all they see is a turban.
What do I, personally, think of Indian people? Having grown up and lived in ethnically diverse cities that’s like asking what I think of Black people or Mexican people or Japanese people or Vietnamese people or people who live in the American South or the Pacific Northwest. Indians are just part of the tapestry like everyone else.
But I do love the food, and I’d like to visit India someday.