Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Apparently Benigns Stereotypes (That Hurt More Than Help)

Stereotyping is the fine art of putting a whole group of people under one umbrella, usually a very hateful and prejudicial one. But we have some stereotypes that sounds all good, by making a whole and diverse group of people to fit under one single set of awesomeness. But while this may seem harmless and pretty cool, in fact those stereotypes can hurt as much as the bad stereotypes. Like being born in certain countries make you very good at certain sports.

He can make ten goals, while she can defeat a ninja army.
Being Brazilian means we carry certain stereotypes. Like being awesome football players (the one with a ball and use your feet, not the one you use your hands and a cigar-shaped object). Or Chinese being awesome in kung fu. Or Canadians being good at hockey. At first it does not seem a bad thing, because this stereotype is people saying how much you are good at something.

Until they ask you to do this something. And them discovering that like in any sport, only a small part of the population are any good. In any country. This is specially bad when you are in school and got picked to teams because someone think because you are born in certain place, this place give you magical sports power to do whatever it must be done to win a game. And then discovering that the Brazilian guy really sucks at football and putting all the blame on him.

Another stereotype who hurts a lot is the guy with glasses must be smart. Or the Asians are all good with math. Asians with glasses are so damn smart that they can change matter with the power of their calculators and clever use of functions.

Again, the problem is that this misconception put the people victim of it in a very mean kind of trouble. Of people expecting too much of them. And getting disappointed when they discover that their friend Li is so bad at math as they are and they all got F/0 in their grades because they decided to copy his Math tests.

Another people who get this kind of problem is fat people. No, we aren't funny all the time, always in good mood. We can get angry too. Fat don't create a magical mood change substance that make all fat guys funny and always happy.

Another stereotype is the old foreigner, usually Asian or a tribal native, who is an spiritual counselor and have the wisdom of 10000 years old culture in his mind. Well, guess what? Old foreign people aren't that different from old foreign people anywhere. They have experience, not necessarily wisdom. your grandpa probably can give you way better advice about life than an old man in India, with the advantage that you can understand him. That old sage in the streets in India can have the same amount of knowledge than the old hobo in your neighborhood. just remember that.

Another kind of stereotype that is bad is the one we see plenty in highschool movies. The beautiful, popular kids are always bullies, while all the weird kids, nerds and ugly people are all good hearted people who are misunderstood victims.

Don't get me wrong, bullying is an awful thing and no bully must be portrayed in a good light. Nothing good comes from bullying. It is just that being beautiful and popular don't make you a bully automatically, while being one of the 'weird' kids don't make you an angel.

The problem is by stereotyping bullies and his victims, you make it seems that is a pretty black and white matter, while it is not. Being athletic and beautiful doesn't mean you will not be victim of bullying. Bullies will use anything as an excuse to bully. A weird accent, a bad grade, an unusual taste in movies and games. Also, not all bullies use physical strength to intimidate. many will use words to morally attack its victims. many times, victims of bullying are bullies themselves, discharging in one weaker than them thew abuse they suffer themselves.

In the end, stereotyping, even positive ones, are bad things. It generalizes and make the life of the people being stereotyped harder than it should. So, it is better to avoid stereotypes at all, even the seemingly good ones, because they can be hiding serious problems that must be dealt with.

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