Essay written by: Benjamin Zepheniah
“What do you expect form a blonde?” “ A woman’s place is in the kitchen”, “ Look at the jewelry he’s wearing, he’s probably a drug dealer” How many times have we heard statements such as these? It is such statements along with numerous others, which have caused our society to isolate and stereotype every individual based on past or previous experiences. To categorize individuals or a group according to an oversimplified standardized image or idea is to stereotype. When we stereotype, it affects our ability to understand and accept individuals and various groups of people for who they are. Women, Police Officers and various ethnic groups are among many who are stereotyped.
In the early 1800’s, women were recognized as “homemakers”. However, as times changed they began to feel the need to become independent. As a result, women are now frequently stereotyped more than ever, especially in the business environment. Men are accustomed to women acquiring positions that require a “feminine touch” such as, nurses, secretaries, school teachers or other clerical positions. Therefore, when a woman acquires a position that puts her in higher authority, such as a role as a Vice President or CEO of a company, she is instantly stereotyped as feeling the need to be dominant. Women are also stereotyped by what they wear. For example, if a woman is wearing an outfit that is tight fitting or wearing a mini skirt, she is misconstrued as being too promiscuous.
Futhermore, our society has even come down to stereotyping the many men and women who on a daily risk their lives to serve and protect our community. Due to immoral acts initiated by other police officers, such as dishonest/illegal search and seizures and drug related issues, police officers are stereotyped frequently too. If a civilian is summoned by an officer to pull over due to a motor vehicle violation and this civilian is of an opposite ethnic background of the officer, the officer is usually accused of racial profiling. In addition, if a police officer is out of reach, it has often been stated that he/she can be found at the nearest Dunkin Donuts consuming large amounts of coffee and donuts. Finally, if an officer is residing in a residential area that “appears” to be over his/her annual income, he/she is stereotyped as being “crooked”.
Finally, the most common stereotypes there is are aimed directly at those of different ethnic and racial backgrounds. Italians are stereotyped as being in the mob. Jewish people are stereotyped as being cheap. African- American are stereotyped as being drug dealers or part of a gang. Middle eastern people are stereotyped as being affiliated with terrorist group.
Stereotyping has caused our society to become less receptive to accepting and understanding people who are different from us. We sometimes do not know that what we are doing is harmful to the other party because it may seem inoffensive, but if we continue to stereotype women, police officers and most importantly various ethnic cultures, our society will soon disperse.
Social psychology, Soloman Asch