Thread: Stereotypes
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Old 12-05-2009, 04:08 PM
GroundedSpirit GroundedSpirit is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: New England USA
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Default Stereotypes

I think an interesting, and relative, discussion might take place around the topic of "stereotypes". It's one of those terms that surfaces a lot especially around groups that by their placement may be just on the "fringe". I'm going to suggest that the term itself has been "stereotyped", and I think it's as important to be as aware & careful of that as any other stereotype !
In trying to be accurate I tried looking up the term at various online sources and in all honesty didn't come away very impressed. For a term so heavily used I found little (short & concise) information I could paste here. But here's one from one of the dictionary sites....
.................................................. ...........
From Merriam-Webster
2 : something conforming to a fixed or general pattern; especially : a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment
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Well, lookie here ! The term "stereotype" in modern society has been given it's own stereotype. It's been demonized ! "Stereotypes are badddddddddd" !

But let's think about this a minute.... (via example)
Suppose 3 or 4 of us decide to go beach hopping this weekend along the east coast. (NOT a good idea THIS weekend!) We hit 3 different beaches. At 2 of those beaches, we see people eaten by sharks ! Conclusion (stereotype) formed - "beaches - especially along the east coast -are NOT good places to go swimming".

Notice by definition above...."something conforming to a fixed or general pattern".

Is this an accurate representation of all east coast beaches ? NO
Should we still take note of it and be AWARE - maybe a little extra cautious ? ABSOLUTELY (if we value our life)

See, it seems, the thing about "stereotypes" that I don't see a lot of awareness of, or at least acknowledgment of, is that it's part of that primal "wiring" lots of people talk about. It's a built in safety mechanism. It's the way our brain functions to classify all the sensory information presented to it in a day into some logical, retrievable manner that's - in many cases - critical to our survival. Like a drunken librarian, sometimes the categorization has a lot to be desired.

So my point in this is just to try to remove the stereotype of "stereotypes", all the while trying to remember the reason and importance of having them. As "thinking" beings, we're capable of recognizing a stereotype when it comes up but just as importantly remembering there's a good chance it didn't appear out of thin air. At some place, in some time, there was a reason for it.
Stereotypes can be both positive & negative, and BOTH can be equally dangerous to accept at face value. (all doctors by route of their education, MUST be qualified healers and trustworthy).
But it can be every bit as dangerous to ignore, or even rail against them without thought, because they've been identified & labeled as "stereotypes".
Unless of course you're fine with being shark meal.

GS
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