“I am anti-stereotypical”. A lot of people have heard me say this and most times, I say it when referring to societal norm. I live mostly by personal convictions and I really have a problem with just doing things because “it is a norm”. What if it isn’t right? What if it doesn’t sit well with me? What if it doesn’t represent what I stand for? What if I simply just don’t want to do it?
Don’t get me wrong. There are some societal norms that are good and advisable to practice, but I feel better when I know why I’m doing that particular thing and can easily justify it.
Most stereotypes are fallacious. You’d realize that they fall under fallacy of hasty generalisation. Let me explain stereotypes in my little understanding. The society is divided into groups and most of these groups are intertwined and influence each other; family, community, workplace, economic class, organizations, marketplace, etc.
Now, I’d paint a scenario:
Some men in a particular community meet most evenings to talk over drinks. They bring up the subject of women and one of the men (say someone who has some kind of influence) complains about his wife and tries to convince them not to trust women. There is really no basis for this; I mean, why wouldn’t they trust their wives, but because of this man’s influence, they begin to consider it subconsciously. Now, they continue to meet regularly and this influential man continues complaining, trying to paint a narrative.
The problem with painting narratives is that they don’t allow you give the other party the benefit of doubt. The men begin to watch out for something that is non-existent in their wives and the one day they coincidentally find what they’re looking for (as opposed to the several days they didn’t), they immediately conclude that their friend was right, “Women are really this way”. The few men it doesn’t happen to are pressured to keeping quiet because they’re the minority or because “They haven’t seen life yet”.
This happens in small community and these few men have already over-generalized that “all women” are a certain way. They take that mentality to their workplace or marketplace and the cycle repeats itself. Imagine the same scenario for women in a salon who paint “all men” to be a certain way and decide to “declare war on men”. An innocent man in his home wouldn’t even know his wife has subconsciously declared war on him.
Stereotypes are passed from generations to generations. They are passed as long as there’s influence and so far as human relationship is concerned, influence is never absent.
You’ll see parents raise their children with funny ideologies; ideologies without backing; ideologies they picked from the society. Society now indirectly controls our lives; telling us what to do to make us “valid” and what not. Societal influence has found it’s way into our homes, relationships, mentalities, activities and even the church!
Society tells us how to raise a boy and girl child. It tells us that only the girl needs training. It tells us the roles boys and girls should carry out in the home; how men should treat their wives and vice versa. It tells us the career guys and ladies should pursue. Any lady pursuing a “guy career” is strong, unique and extra; any guy pursuing a “lady career” is weak and less of a man. Society tells us when to break and mend relationships. It tells us what activities to carry out at each time of the day and what you should wear on each day of the week. I remember wearing jeans on a Monday in school and this lady said I was abnormal. Who in the world made it abnormal to wear jeans on a Monday? (Yeah, I can see those answers popping into your head. “But it’s Monday, Monday is official”. Again, stereotype).
Stereotypes make us do what we don’t want to do and sometimes make us compromise. Do you have personal convictions? When you live based on personal convictions, it’s easier to explain why you’re carrying out an action as opposed to not knowing the reason for an action that was forced down the throats of people by some random people in the 15th century. Personal convictions give you a confidence to live.
I heard someone say “I am not a believer of people knowing each other for years before getting married” and I feel it’s fine for her. She can meet someone and marry him after a few months. I’m a different person. In fact, I believe in the opposite and instead of being pressured to doing what she believes in, I’d do what I believe in with confidence. That, is refusing to be mind-controlled by society.
There are many things I want to say about this topic, but I think I’d just break it into episodes.
What is your opinion about stereotypes?