A stereotype can be classed as a generalization of people, classifying people into a certain group, placing judgment on people based first impressions and in many different forms. This essay will discuss the way in which our society reinforces stereotypes, and why it seems necessary to categorize people.
Society seems to stereotype people and place judgment on them in different ways.
They generalize people by there jobs, the way they dress, they way they speak even down to the names they are given and in many other ways.
For example, if we were told of someone with the name of Bob, we would never see them as a person that worked in the Houses of Parliament or an environment of that sort, where standards are set very high. Its more likely that we place them under a category of men who worked as builders, that spent a large majority of their time in the local pub, then would go home and watch television all night and are often seen with a can of something in there hands. The same way that if we looked at the name Betty, it would be almost certain that many would think of a old white woman, looking frail, possibly with a walking stick and who’s sentences start with the phrase “In may days”.
Society has reinforced this stereotype in that on television programs, most builders have names such as Bob, Jack, Stan etc. (usually very short names) and old women seem to have the name of Betty, Peggy, Nora, etc. Television seems to add and build or stereotypical views of names by giving characters typical names that fit the image of the character. When we hear the name we automatically make assumptions of how we imagine the person to be.
Looking at card designers and how they have stereotyped cards. There are certain cards that you would not buy people of a certain age or gender. Young girls are supposed to be quiet and innocent looking and are only interested in dolls and flowery dresses, and young boys are into trucks, cars, sports, and more destructive and active toys. The designers of cards have picked up this stereotype and have made cards specialized for certain age groups and genders. It is not very likely you would give young male adolescent a pink card with flowers on, it would not seem right for the gender nor age group. In the same ways that a card that featured pint of bear on it would not seem suitable for a young girl.
Television and the Media seem to add to the way in which we stereotype people. Adverts use stereotypes to appeal to their target audience. When advertising sports cars, the advertising companies almost always seem to use young professional looking males; you hardly ever see females behind the steering wheel, unless being used to add sex appeal. Another example would be when advertising household cleaning appliances. You never seem to see a man at the stove or with a hoover in his hands cleaning the house. The stereotype has been to say that it is only the women who clean and cook and tend to the entire domestic household needs.
Media has added to this in the way in which they word articles in Tabloids. Instead of describing a person for the individual that they are, they put them in a class, and make general statements about them. To call a woman a house wife, would give the image of a woman who did nothing but clean the house and looked after her kids, when in actual fact she could be a retired millionairess who has a maid who does all the cooking and cleaning. The tabloids make a general statement and leave the rest to the reader, which means that in-accurate judgments can me made.
From the time we are born we are stereotyped and made to think certain things about certain people. Primarily by the way that we see our parents act around certain people and the names and titles they give people. Children are vulnerable to everything that they are told (especially from parents and family). If their parents have brought them up with a particular mind set about certain people, it’s very likely that they would stick that view. (Until told other wise, or learns from their own experiences). Thus meaning that the very places that we grow in teach us how to stereotype and generalize by first impressions.
If some one is given the word, ‘Biker’ they establish a mental picture of over weight men, with tattooed bodies dressed in black leather outfits with long beards. Again, another stereotypical view.
Society seems to make judgments and classify people due to their inability to asses further than they eyes can see. They take certain parts of a parts of a person, like cloths they are wearing, they way they speak, the jobs they have, even down to the names they have as a means of stereotyping people. Stereotypes seem to be made just to make people feel safer about other people. If they can put them in some kind of class or category they can know what to expect of them and seem to judge them on the rest of ‘their kind’.
Society also seems to stereotype just to feel safe. If they know what a group of people act like they are less likely to feel threatened, as they know what to expect. Many people are threatened by people or things that they are not familiar with or have never come across before, if they can take one part of them take on part of them and associate it with a certain type or class of people they feel less threatened because they supposedly know what they are like.
Another reason why people may stereotype others is to be in control (and to reduce Anxiety). People would be very anxious and unsettled surrounded by people they dont understand, it may even be a little chaotic is peoples actions and behaviors were meaningless. We make perceptions and stereotype people in an aim to understand, just for our own benefit, just so that are not left guessing. Another reason why people stereotype, is so that they can plan/organize their own response to others. They make assumptions of people and mentally think of things to and not to say once engaged in conversation with them lest we offend at any point. If we have an idea of what they are like one can guess things that would not be suitable to say in their presence.
Every one seems to stereotype and make assumptions on the first encounter with people that we dont know, whether it consciously or subconsciously.