Stereotypes are annoying and sometimes offensive. They can present the wrong idea about people and cause many problems, but are stereotypes actually the root problem to racism or sexism? Many people might think so, but there is a lot more to them than you think.
Stereotypes are actually, in most cases, good. Stereotypes are our brains way of being able to make split second decisions. Without stereotypes, we would hardly be able to make decisions or survive like we do. You may not believe me quite yet, but lets look at some situations where stereotypes are good and bad, but you have to remember stereotypes are oversimplified generalizations about someone or something.
Here we have blank cans. Now I ask you, what are these cans used for?
Many of you might go for the seemingly obvious answer, “To hold drinks”, but what if I told you that is not in fact what they are being used for in this picture? They could be being used to hold soup, or dangerous chemicals, or as a vase for hand-picked flowers, but how would you know that just by looking at the outside of the cans? Now, if you saw a picture of a beaker with a mysterious liquid inside, you might say that it was being used to hold dangerous chemicals. All of these assumptions are mostly made by past experiences and you make general assumptions about these objects, i.e. the cans hold a drinkable liquid, while the beaker holds dangerous chemicals. These assumptions are oversimplified generalizations of an object. What is a different word for oversimplified generalizations? I can’t seem to think of one, but its on the tip of my tongue… Oh, wait! I think I remember, it starts with a S I think… Sterilize? Stereo? Oh, I remember now, stereotype. Now apply these situations with the beaker and the cans to real life situations and you might just get the point I’m making.
Although stereotypes can be good(see above), they can be bad. You can assume that the girl you saw wearing an oversize sweater and drinking Starbucks is dumb or “basic”, when she may very well be a rocket scientist. The black guy applying for a job that is wearing Jordan’s and has his pants sagging could be at the top of his class, graduating valedictorian.
Stereotypes are not bad, they are in fact good. It is how you use them that really matters.