Whenever I talk about generalizations, this always comes to mind… Why do people freak out so much, or just not grasp the fundamental idea behind “generalizations”? They get upset and tell you that you’re “stereotyping”, as if that’s a horrible thing to do. I will put here a series of generalizations and ask you what’s wrong about them!
Let’s start off with something everyone knows.
Generally speaking, men feel the need to show off to impress others.
We all know this is true… All the infamous “hey, watch this” scenarios. Most men feel the need to show off in an effort to prove that they’re superior in strength to others. It’s just a fact of life. This is a stereotype, and I am in it, because I’m a man. Is this stereotype wrong? No. It’s very true. Does that make this stereotype bad because there are some men who don’t do this?
Let’s try the opposite end of this example:
Generally speaking, women are far more emotional than men.
This is where we start stepping on people’s toes. I don’t know why, because it’s the same thing as the previous example! It’s true. Most women have stronger emotions than men. All you have to do is take a look at Hillary Clinton crying on TV to prove this. I honestly don’t blame her. She’s a woman! She’s going to cry when things get rough and stressful. It’s their way of dealing with it. This is a stereotype. Is it wrong? No… Because it’s true. Does that make this stereotype “bad”, or “wrong” or “evil” because there are some women who don’t do this? No! Because a stereotype is “generally speaking”… Meaning that “for the most part, women are far more emotional than men.” The entire idea of a stereotype is to generalize. Of course there’s going to be exceptions, but the very term “stereotype” and “generalization” allows for exceptions.
Let’s get a little more intense!
Generally speaking, Windows users aren’t very computer literate.
We ALL know this is true. The Windows market caters to people who don’t want to mess with a lot of the intricacies of setting up a computer. Yes, it has flaws, what OS doesn’t when you look at it through unbiased eyes? But the fact remains that most Windows users won’t know how to even check the temperature of their CPU. This… Is a stereotype… A generalization. It’s true. Does this make you discriminatory if you use it? No. Because it’s true, and the very definition of a “generalization” is to say that there are exceptions, and there ARE exceptions to this stereotype. I am in the stereotype, because I am a Windows users, but I also know quite well how to use Unix-based systems, as well. I am the exception, but I am still in this stereotype.
Generally speaking, Apple users are very elitist.
You knew it was coming. You know it’s true, though, don’t you. The very company itself promotes elitism in their marketing and in their conventions and in everything they do. It permeates into the community and you get people who are attracted and emulate and are the very same way. All you have to do is get on Slashdot or Digg to see it. Now… This is a generalization and it’s true. But, as I’ve been saying, the very term “generalization” means that there are exceptions, and I know PLENTY of Apple users who aren’t elitist fanatics. This is a stereotype and they are in this stereotype, but they are the exception.
One more mirrored example. The hot tamale, so to speak!
Generally speaking, Americans are overweight.
This is also true. All you have to do is go to McDonald’s or Wendy’s or any other fast food restaurant that caters to the impatient NOW-NOW-NOW attitude of the United States. We’re a fat, rich country. That’s a fact. I am in this stereotype, but I am the exception, as well. I’m a little fatter than I could be, but I’m not qualified to be overweight, I don’t think. I don’t care, and it doesn’t matter. I’m in this stereotype, you are, too. But you could be the exception. You are the exception to the stereotype, but you are still IN the generalization and stereotype, because a generalization and a stereotype, by definition, means that not everyone is, but they are mostly.
And here’s the big one:
Generally speaking, terrorists are usually Muslims.
Oh, hoho. I really dropped the bomb here, didn’t I? This is the main generalization that if you dare utter, will get you a smackdown of epic proportions. But it’s true, isn’t it? Who’s blowing themselves up in the streets of Iraq, killing soldiers and innocent civilians? Who are the ones who kill whoever doesn’t convert to their religion? All throughout history! Hey, you can’t say I’m biased now, because it was in my secular history book for the course I’m taking in college. Generally speaking, terrorists are Muslims. It’s true, and it’s a generalization. But… Guess what? As with all generalizations, the very definition suggests that there are exceptions. And there ARE exceptions! There are some non-radical Muslims out there who aren’t doing anything. (In fact, they’re not doing anything so well, that they’re not trying to stop their radical brethren, but that’s another topic entirely.) But the fact remains that the majority of terrorists are Muslims who are out for blood and will do terrorist activities in order to be at peace with their god. It is not wrong to generalize this, just like it’s not wrong with the previous examples, because the very word “general” means “basically” or “mostly”… Meaning there are exceptions! I didn’t say all Muslims are terrorists, but, hey! Generally speaking, they ARE.
Hello, my name is GermanShepherd, and I’m a generalizer.
And as a post-script, as food for thought: Why is it bad to profile based on stereotypes? The stereotypes are true, and while there are exceptions, most of them are going to fit the profile. Just another example of how far down the left side of the hill we’ve managed to slide if we’re too scared to act on TRUE generalizations in an effort to protect ourselves.