I posted a blog about New Zealand the other day, and got a heated response back about a comment I made about Aussies. My comment was lighthearted and it was taken to a whole other level by a reader who stumbled upon my blog. It got me thinking again about Stereotypes-- a subject that has come up quite often over these past few months of traveling. As much as we try to dismiss them, they exist. And there's a bit of truth to them...afterall, that's how they came to be. I never judge based on these stereotypes, and I don't believe that any of us should. The only way to know a person, no matter their nationality, is to sit with them and have a conversation. Well, I've conversed with people from every corner of the globe. Many responses I get are "wow!! I can't believe youre american! You're so cool! And well traveled!". Ha! Most stereotypes are negative, highlighting only the bad things about a place, religion or nationality. You can't generalize whole populations...we are all individuals to say the least. But I will say that there is some truth to stereotypes that we just can't ignore. As a traveler, you are representing you're country. Some people may never make it to the US, so I am representing my homeland. The guys I was climbing with the other day stated that all climbers are cheap. Most surfers agree that surfers suffer from big EGO's. My Israeli friends will quickly admit to bargaining for everything...and not giving up until they reach the price they want. Every Aussie will proudly admit to loving a party and being able to drink heavily and often. Anyone who has met an Aussie will agree. Yes, I know- Americans are loud and obnoxious, ignorant people. This is the stereotype we were given. When people say this to me or are quick to judge because of it- i just laugh it off. Yes, im loud. But my dutch friends are loud to. I know the person that i am, so i let negative generalizations just roll off my back. ...Arabs are religious lunatics. Irish people only eat potatoes. White girls dont have booties. French women have hairy armpits. Asians only eat rice. Blondes are dumb. Well here ya have it:
After doing some scouring of the WWW, I came up with some entertaining information and some well written articles about the topic.
" A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings. Stereotypes are standardized and simplified conceptions of groups based on some prior assumptions. " --wikipedia
-Dave Berry : "And as Americans, we must ask ourselves: Are we really so different? Must we stereotype those who disagree with us? Do we truly believe that ALL red-state residents are ignorant racist fascist knuckle-dragging NASCAR-obsessed cousin-marrying road-kill-eating tobacco-juice-dribbling gun-fondling religious fanatic rednecks; or that ALL blue-state residents are godless unpatriotic pierced-nose Volvo-driving France-loving left-wing Communist latte-sucking tofu-chomping holistic-wacko neurotic vegan weenie perverts? Yes. This is called 'diversity,' and it is why we are such a great nation - a nation that has given the world both nuclear weapons AND SpongeBob SquarePants. And so today I am calling upon both sides in the red-blue rift to reach out. Maybe we could have a cultural-exchange program between red and blue states. For example, a delegation from Texas could go to California and show the Californians how to do some traditional Texas thing such as castrate a bull using only your teeth, and then the Californians could show the Texans how to rearrange their football stadiums in accordance with the principles of 'feng shui' (for openers, both goalposts should be at the west end of the field). Or maybe New York and Kentucky could have a college-style 'mixer,' featuring special 'crossover' hors d'oeuvres, such as bagels topped with squirrel parts."
Stereotypes have been been around for years, and I dont think that they are going anywhere. Don't be offended by a generalization-- if you are you're own person than no one can judge otherwise. And if they do, fuck em. Take it all with a grain of salt and a smile.