Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stereotypes: Terrorism, Feminism and Classical Music


Stereotypes suck because they limit people - both those doing the stereotyping and those being stereotyped - because stereotypes build boxes that keep people in... and out.

These boxes block off potential - the potential for that person in your eyes and maybe in their own eyes of who they are and can become.

Take, for example, when we stereotype blondes as dumb: we lose the potential knowledge they could share because we write them off as ignorant AND they might lose the potential to believe they can be brainier because they live up to the dumb blonde stereotype.


But, given today's mark in history as the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I'm sure a different stereotype comes to mind for many of us:

Racial profiling that "Muslim" = "terrorist"

This became so common that this t-shirt was created:

Countless stereotypes exist about Muslims, especially in the media in relation to terrorism. However, according to NBC news, a " 2009 [Pew Research Center] study, Muslims in the United States are much more likely to say that suicide bombings are never justified in defense of Islam than Muslims in other countries. Almost eight in 10 American Muslims say that such attacks are never defensible, compared to 70 percent of Muslims in Britain, 64 percent of Muslims in France, and just 17 percent of Muslims who live in the Palestinian territory."

So, perhaps more Americans should resist the urge to judge a book by its cover... or a person by his or her religion. 


I have been judged by my religion before. Countless feminists have been horrified and even in disbelief that I am not only Christian but Baptist. Many people think "Baptist" and "Feminist" cannot be one in the same but, for me they are because my faith is empowering not oppressive. 

Beyond being Baptist, though, I am often judged by my "cover" or appearance because I don't look like the typical stereotype of a feminist: manly, hairy, no bra, etc. (And, for the record, most feminists don't look like that!)

But most people who operate under those stereotypes, would probably never look at me and guess I'm a feminist. I actually look very mainstream... more like a brunette Barbie than say, Andrea Dworkin

And, I get judged for that ALL the time...

I have interacted with people who see me dressed in pink or florals or high high heels and assume I am vapid, materialistic and shallow. Then, I open my mouth and I can literally see an expression shoot across their face when they are surprised to see that I am reasonably intelligent and have something of value to add to the conversation.

But because the cover of my book is more like Barbie, I am boxed into a stereotype when in reality I just enjoy fashion after having endured uniforms for years in high school. It just so happens that instead of being emo/goth/grunge or some other counter-culture look, my fashion sense is undeniably and even excessively feminine... very Southern Belle you might say ;)

But, just like being Baptist empowers me, so does my femininity. I feel no need to hide the fact that I am a woman and I have absolutely no desire to look like a man.... I just happen to enjoy wearing skirts, makeup and perfume. This Southern Belle image I have, however, does not reduce my desire to learn, lead, or do anything else I set my mind to. 

Classical Music

Just to end on a fun note after this rather serious post, here is another person who looks a little different and shatters a stereotype while doing so :)

What do you think of when you think classical music? 

Nerdy guy, no fashion sense, elevator music? I have to admit, I sometimes boxed classical musicians into a stereotype similar to that : / 

However, a friend of mine recently introduced me to David Garret. Is it bad that I was hooked before I even heard him play??? ;) 

Anyways, he is from Germany and one of the fastest violinists in the world AND he modernizes the music by playing current songs... like Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal: 

He has many more songs that might change the way you think about classical music :)

We may not all struggle with boxing in or being boxed in by these particular stereotypes of terrorist, feminist or classical music but we all face stereotypes. 

Next time you're about to judge someone by their appearance...

think OUTSIDE the box...

and let them show you who they truly are, even if who they truly are seems as incompatible as a Southern Belle (Baptist) Feminist :)

No comments:

Post a Comment