We live in binaries: Male/Female, Good/Bad, Gay/Straight, Beautiful/Ugly, Right/Wrong etc.
It’s natural for us to perceive and express reality in these binaries, we can’t avoid it. Anyone being asked if they’re 100% one or other thing, will in many cases begin elaborating and explaining their own complexity. Yet in the case of talking about others, whom are strangers or unfamiliar to us, we can find ourselves oversimplifying them – stereotyping them.
These stereotypes are given socially constructed qualities, as well. Usually spoken of as ‘prejudice’.
Often I see jokes made on the stereotypes(Yees, I make them too). With punchlines living off the qualities of the stereotype, the prejudice. Punchlines told on the expense of a weaker entity – probably a group of people in society. So in the jokes, the racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, elitist, what have you-ist in you is exposed – with humor as a shield, one can’t be associated with being any of the said -isms. Which make sit tricky for me to address them, when they flow past my ears or roll in front of my eyes. Do you address such jokes? And what approach do you take? The times I’ve approached people on their ‘jokes’ they think I misunderstood, or just didn’t ‘get the joke’ – how can I come past this situation?
One can tell a lot about a person, by the jokes they tell.
Today’s blog comes with a message: Give yourself the benefit of seeing the complexity of the world. Don’t get stuck in the binaries and let people around you unfold as full personalities. Not as someone that lacks in one thing, and has surplus in another.
I believe it’s healthy to stop up once in a while and rethink my inner landscape of binaries. Which of these stereotypes do I mention in my daily life? How do I mention them? Does this show respect? Am I being just to their complexity and nuances? Do I acknowledge there are people, whom are a part of this polarized scale? As Io mentions in her TED talk, most people are found between the two ends of a scale Gay/Straight, I’ll find more people in the “/” than in the two terms!
Just like my life happens in the dash of my birth year and my death year 😉
An element of a whole doesn’t make a stereotype, and a stereotype is not found in reality.
Watch this video on sexuality and gender, made by the Vlogbrothers. It is a good introductory explanation of the complex nature of men and women.