A stereotype is a generalization of a particular group of people, based on certain qualities and attributes that a small number has been known to possess. These attributes are then applied to every person who belongs to the community. Stereotyping is like judging a person before knowing her/him, based on what you may have heard, watched in movies, or read in books, about the community, ethnic group, or country she/he belongs to. While stereotyping is something that comes naturally to us, we also know deep down that the entire practice is simply inappropriate. Judging someone on the basis of an action done by another, belonging to the former's race, ethnicity, or group, is absolutely unacceptable; yet, this practice has led to some of the most destructive events in history, and has found its place in arts and literature too. Here, we will discuss some stereotype examples pertaining to various aspects including literature and media.
1. Perhaps, in this day and time, one of the biggest stereotype is the perception of Muslims by the world. After the 9/11 attacks in the United States of America, Muslims were persecuted like no other group. Muslims who caused no harm, who just minded their own business, were beaten, imprisoned, and given terrible treatment by everyone in the country. This stereotype came to the point where those belonging to this group had to cover up their identity by changing their physical appearances. Some Muslim men keep long beards, and those who did were identified by it. Women were identified by their 'hijab'. Soon, men got rid of their beards and women gave up their hijab in order to be accepted in the society. Of course, their names gave way to their true identity.
2. Stereotyping on the basis of physical appearances also affected the Sikhs - people belonging to a religious sect called Sikhism, from India. According to their religious beliefs, men are required to wear turbans and are not allowed to shave their beards. These men were also affected by the stereotypical depiction of Muslims, and some of them met the same fate as Muslim men. The outcome of the entire incident was that world over, Muslims are now perceived as terrorists, and people tend to be wary of them. The truth on the other hand is that not all Muslims are terrorists; in fact, a lot of Muslims are completely against the 'Jihad' that the terrorists have declared on the world. There is a section of this group that is peace-loving, and is making all attempts to rid itself of the stereotypes imposed on them.
3. From television, what could be a better example than The Simpsons? Homer Simpson is the biggest example of the American stereotype as perceived by the world. The common view is that Americans are obese, lazy, and dull, and Homer Simpson completely epitomizes this perception. However, it is ironic that his very own daughter Lisa is bright and intelligent, thereby countering the entire view immediately. Another example of stereotyping in The Simpsons is that of the character Appu. Appu is an Indian, who is depicted as dark and talking with a heavy Indian accent. However, not all Indians are dark-skinned, and not all of them have an accent associated with the English language.
4. When it comes to literature, perhaps one of the most prominent example of a stereotype is the portrayal of Shylock, a Jew, from the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. Jews have been perceived as manipulative people who are always greedy for money. Again, Shylock is exactly this individual in the play, and succumbs to the world view of Jews. On the other hand, the same character is also depicted as having a humane side that is evident in the speeches given by him in the play. The very basic perception of Jews is countered by this approach in the play.
5. One of the many stereotype examples for kids is the depiction of Cinderella in the story. Cinderella personifies the gender stereotyping about women, where they are perceived as docile, vulnerable, and completely helpless, depending on others for their survival. It is important to understand the impact of such stereotypes on children, as it is likely to shape their thinking in a manner that is prejudiced.
As you can see from these examples, all of them have what you may call a biased opinion towards a group, based on what has been seen or heard about them. These are just a few examples that have been explained in detail. Given below is a list of stereotypes where a lot of people succumb to the preconceived notions created by the world.
Some General Stereotypes
The list below consists of stereotypes about physical appearance, gender, age, and any other type you may have imagined.
- All politicians are philanders and think only of personal gain and benefit.
- If I wear Goth clothing, I'm a part of a rock band, depressed, or do drugs.
- Girls are only concerned about physical appearance.
- Guys are messy and unclean.
- Men who spend too much time on the computer or read are geeks.
- Men who are not into sports are termed as gay.
- All blondes are unintelligent.
- All librarians are women who are old, wear glasses, tie a high bun, and have a perpetual frown on their face.
- If you aren't educated, you will never make it big in life. (Bill Gates was a college dropout.)
- Girls are not good at sports.
- All teenagers are rebels.
- All children don't enjoy healthy food.
- Only anorexic women can become models.
- Women who smoke and drink do not have morals.
- Men who like pink are effeminate.