By the means of categorization, a particular individual with typical physical or mental traits, behavior or attitudes can be allotted the characteristics of the whole social group. As Oxford Dictionaries (2011) identify, such categorization can be sometimes oversimplified, though it finds its broad application in everyday social life introducing the term of a stereotype. According to Boysen, Fisher, Dejesus, Vogel and Madon (2011), stereotypes shape the views of broader social groups on individuals and communities as well as on themselves. In other words, stereotypes refer to the general idea that each social group shares at least one attribute in common, which distinguishes each individual as a member of the group.
Stereotypes may sometimes be observed as offensive for the groups they ingenuously concern. Apart from this, stereotypes can deal with the issues of discrimination and prejudices. The most arguable stereotypes are those about race, religion, and sex. In order to shed light on this kind of beliefs, I would like to observe the following three stereotypes and identify the mistakes and inaccuracies found in them.
Mental illnesses of gay men
It is said that the difference between straight men and homosexuals is usually in the mental differences and perversion. The latter are treated as those having mental illnesses and displayed as womanlike. It is a common belief that gays are similar to women in terms of personality, social behavior, and passion. Boysen et al. (2011) explain it as possible lack of masculinity rather than concentration on femininity. In fact, there is evidence that homosexuals are more expressive in terms of their feelings and emotions both verbally and non-verbally. Many girls and women are persuaded that each of them should have a friend who is gay. I suppose that this is a common stereotype that emerged from the movies, even though it usually proves to be so – feminine characteristics are predominant in the mentality of homosexuals, that’s why gay men often behave somewhat similar to females.
Nevertheless, the accuracy of such vision has been scientifically flawed. Boysen et al. (2011) introduces the definition of self-stereotype, which homosexuals are usually exposed to. Gay men use to conform to the traits and characteristics they are allotted. In other words, their behavior and appearance is often shaped by the society but is not necessarily perceived personally. My personal experience shows that it is not always easy to recognize homosexual inclinations even throughout the continuous communication with a gay man. Besides, the way a man looks and behaves may sometimes resemble homosexual even though the person is straight. For some gay men, being a homosexual means only to have alternative sexual preferences, which were shaped by the negative sexual experience at some moment in past. Therefore, I doubt that a mental illness is a prerequisite for a male to become homosexual.
Race stereotypes have been the foundation of many prejudices in the modern world. The Muslim culture and way of life originate from a completely different background than any other in the West.
Misunderstanding appears to be the first sign of unfriendliness from the both sides. Nevertheless, the events of September 11, 2001 created mistrust to the whole Arab and Muslim culture in many parts of the world, especially in the United States. The stereotype that Muslims are terrorists and US-culture haters has grown deeply in the consciousness of Western civilization. The suggestion to make ‘Muslims only’ lines for the travelers in airports (The Huffington Post, 2006) depicted the moods in the country for years after the terrorist attack.
One cannot deny that the events of September, 11 were not accidental but purposeful. It is proved that the attack has been thoroughly planned and accurately implemented. It is also known that it is not the only act of aggression by the Muslim community.
At the same time, one should not forget about the US permanent and temporary residents from the Arab countries. In most cases, they are the people who have made much effort to integrate and become a part of the American society. Being suspicious to each of them is unjustified. In the past years, I’ve been communicating with a number of Arabs living peacefully in our country. Most of them could proudly identify their professional goals, personal interests and occupations and felt themselves a valuable part of the community. Their view on terrorism most probably coincides with the views of decent population.
Annoyance of being single
In many countries, marriage and legitimization of relationships between men and women is becoming less popular. Apparently, being single gets even more inconvenient than being married. Greitemeyer (2009) collects the most popular stereotypes about singles and composes a profile of an unattractive individual in the society. Single men and women are supposed to have poorer communication skills and higher levels of risk in sexual relations. These people are characterized with irresponsibility, loneliness, instability and other negative traits, which seem not to be inherent to married people or people in a relationship.
It’s hard to refute that singles are less reliable and more dissatisfied. For most of them, the situation changes after they start dating or get married, although there are people who are less communicative because of their character or way of life. People who are not successful in the society usually face most of the aforementioned problems due to inadaptability, fear or ignorance. Most of the negative characteristics can be then applied to such individual profile.
On the other hand, being single should not be viewed solely as something negative. For many people, it is the way for self-actualization and goal achievement, which requires concentration and hard work. Having a family is demanding, that’s why lots of individuals postpone the decision of getting married. Besides, irresponsibility or promiscuousness can be peculiar also to married people. This point of view dispels the idea that being single associates with misery and lack of success.
In conclusion, I would like to mention that stereotyping is a powerful tool of affecting one’s mind and opinion. Without in-depth knowledge, it is sometimes easy to be baffled by a misconception and fail to form the unbiased attitude as a consequence.
Boysen, G.A., Fisher, M., Dejesus, M., Vogel, D.L., & Madon,
S. (2011). The Mental Health Stereotype About Gay Men: The Relation Between Gay Men’s Self-Stereotype and Stereotypes About Heterosexual Women and Lesbians. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 30, No. 4, 2011, pp. 329-360.
Greitemeyer, T. (2009). Stereotypes of Singles: Are Singles
What We Think? European Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 39, 2009, pp. 368–383.
Oxford Dictionaries. (2011). Stereotype. Retrieved October 31,
2011 from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com.
The Huffington Post. Fox News Airs Suggestion for ‘Muslim-
Only’ Airport Line. Retrieved October 31, 2011 from
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