Stereotype: a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group: The cowboy and Indian are American stereotypes.
Or, said another way: A conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image.
Stereotypes. We all know how evil they are. And how no one wants to be stereotyped. But we all believe in them.
Relax and think of what comes to your mind immediately after reading the following words...
Born again Christian
Now be honest, you formed pictures in your mind. Phrases popped into your head. You may have fought them but only after they were there.
The truth is, ugly as it may seem, we all carry stereotypes in our minds. They are useful, in a sense, because they allow us to place people in categories. We like a certain order to things. They are a part of the way we view ourselves and our communities. They fit into our concepts of history and the world.
And they are both true and false at the same time. Some people conform to them, some defy them, some accept them; some use them to their advantage, some use them against others. They help us define both ourselves and others. Some people live up to them, some make great efforts to overcome them and succeed. Some people use them for excuses for not succeeding.
Our goals are stereotypes. Our parents either lived up to stereotypes or didn't. We sometimes pretend to be one stereotype in order to make others believe we are not another.
They are only bad if don't understand why they exist. Or if you accept them without thinking. Or how they should be used. Anyone who thinks he doesn't use them is fooling himself.
A Night Unremembered
6 years ago