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– "Dumb jocks!", "Women don’t belong there, doing

that!", "He must be a

criminal, just look at his clothes." How often have we heard somebody

mention

these things, yet, how often have we said something similar? Our society is

based

on face values where we categorize people because of the actions of a few.

All of

the above statements are prejudicial notions used to define members of a

social or

an ethnic group, and are called stereotypes. Unfortunately, stereotypes

negatively

affect our ability to understand members of a different group or ethnicicity,

and

are we usually resistant to change because of them. We stereotype various

groups

of people, but none like professional athletes, women, and different ethnic

groups

in our country.

Professional Basketball, Football, and Baseball players have been the

victims of many stereotypes. Hearing people call them dumb is common. A

misconception by many people is that pro athletes aren’t educated. This is

such a

farce since the vast majority of them have attended prestigious colleges and

universities, and received degrees in different fields of study. A popular

misconception is that the educations they did earn were in areas like Liberal

Arts,

or other general fields of study which didn’t challenge their mental

capabilities.

Another stereotype is that pro athletes received preferential treatment while

in

college. Many believe that if an athlete needs a certain grade to remain

eligible to

play sports, then the faculty would grade him or her lighter than the rest of

the

class. We have also stereotyped athletes as "above" the law. There

have been, on

occasion, incidents where a pro- athlete is treated better by the justice

system than

an average citizen wo! uld be in the same situation. We are satisfied to say

it’s

because of the athletes fame and wealth, but fail to realize that it was

probably a

first offense, or to follow the story up and see that punishment was dealt

accordingly.

Additionally, we have frequently stereotyped women, especially at the

workplace. Women are always associated in business with jobs such as

secretaries,

nurses, customer service, and anything that needs a "womans" touch.

They are

rarely thought of as the CEO of a corporation, or as the Vice President. When

women are in positions of authority however, we have stereotyped them as male

bashers or power hungry when they give orders. At home, we stereotype women

as

well. Washing the dishes, folding the laundry, cooking the meals, and taking

care

of the children are all associated as a woman’s responsibility. Women are

also seen

as passive and submissive to their husbands in the home. The way a woman

dresses, or the color of her hair is enough for many men to stereotype women.

We

have always looked upon blonds as air headed, with big white teeth, a

high-pitched voice, and a wad of Dentine bubble gum in her mouth. As well, we

have stereotyped women that dress in tight clothes, or short skirts almost

instantly

as being promiscuous.

Finally, the most common stereotypes are those which we have aimed at

different ethnic or racial groups. African-American stereotypes are the most

obvious. We have often stereotyped Young black men as gang members solely

because of the kind of clothes they wear. The media constantly blasts images

of

black men involved in crime and gang-banging across the six o’clock news, but

hardly ever the White or Asian doing the same. We have also stereotyped

African-

Americans as the largest ethnic group on public assistance, which is not true

at all.

It just seems that way because people are ignorant to the fact that whites

make up

most of the welfare system. We have also stereotyped them as superior to

other

races involved in sports. They can jump higher than everyone else, run

faster, and

have better balance because of their "extra" muscles. It may seem

this way when

we watch sports on television, and it does seem that way at times,

nonetheless

though it is a stereotype.

Stereotypes are products of our own individual inadequacies. They make us

feel better about ourselves because we can point the finger at a person, and

label

not only him or her, but an entire group. Stereotypes seem harmless at first,

but

overtime they cause serious damage to our society. Because of them, we have

become narrow minded and less receptive to people different from us.

Stereotyping a person, or a group of people, is easier than it is to get to

know

them. Stereotypes are just another product of our society which puts more

value on

what an individual possesses rather than who a person is. Sadly though,

stereotypes will remain.


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