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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cultural Stereotyping


Maybe a week or two ago while I was flipping the channels I saw Dr. Phil had some show about cultural stereotypes. I didn't watch much as Dr. Phil is getting closer and closer (in my opinion) to be just ridiculous with his show choices like a Jerry Springer with a little more educated host and no beat downs (that I know of). It prompted a question I had in my head, an honest question on how much we all stereotype cultures. We could say we all don't think this or that, but seriously people...we all stereotype in some way or another. Don't think you're above it, because you aren't.

Do I think that all Asians are bad drivers? No. People that drive old school Corollas do (sorry to those who drive Corollas...I hope you prove me wrong). I guess that would be a vehicle stereotype). What comes to mind when you think of the Irish? I think of red hair, the grassy fields of Ireland, drunkenness (there is my stereotype) and a accent I just can't help but enjoy hearing. Are all Jews good with money? A lot of them I know are, but not all are rich. Lord knows my husband's Grandparents aren't.

When it comes to my husband I see a lot of stereotyping or just categorizing him just because of his culture since he was born and lived half his childhood in Russia. Hell, I'll admit that I do it to him too. When I grew up it seemed that every family that moved in and out of the house next door to my Nagypapa's house were Russians. My family is Hungarian. Heck we knew Hungarian Freedom Fighters and I remember my Nagypapa (Hungarian for Grandfather) talking about those "damn Russians" next door. They were fine people and even my Nagypapa ended up getting along with them in the end. When I brought home my husband for the first time. My Mom commented how nice he was, but also made a point "he's Russian". Um so? I didn't grow up in the Cold War era maybe that is why I have no fear or disdain for ALL Russians.

When I thought of Russians (before actually knowing one), I thought of them as a very strong (almost beyond masculine to super power), sneaky, vodka drinking, everyone plays hockey and can dance to traditional folk music. Now that I know one, I still think Russians are strong (emotionally, mentally and physically) culture that really loves to have a good time (drinking or not) and knows how to unwind and not take life so seriously. They know how to detach themselves from work/life stresses and just have a good time without wondering who is looking or feeling over conscious. They are a VERY hospitable group and Russians will never let you leave their homes hungry. All Russians are not Alexander Ovechkin. My husband did not even ice skate (even though he lived in Siberia) until he came to the states. As for dancing? Plenty of them can, but I have yet to see any of them do the Drobushki, Peresek, or Chechetka (Russian step dance)even though that would thrill me to death and I have challenged a few of them to do it. Some have tried but were very unsuccessful. I find it sexy that my husband is Russian and has lots of these traits (stereotype and all minus the drinking since he really doesn't). If I describe him or talk to him I often do bring up where he is from because I find it fascinating. I know some other people look at him bugged eyed with questions because of his culture. Are they stereotyping him or just curious? I am not sure.

I think as Americans we are very much stereotyped as being a loud noisy bunch, but no more noisier then Russians can be. Haha. However, as a whole (and yes I am stereotyping so gasp if you will) being a culture that is obsessed with being overly PC. I agree on some of the PC-ness (if you will). However, there are those extreme groups of people who are offended by silly things. For example, the term Halloween and wanting to change it to Fall Festival is just plain ridiculous. It is what it is people, its Halloween. If you don't want to celebrate it then don't. I don't celebrate everything on the calendar like Day of the Dead, Woman's Day (celebrated in Russia), Kwanza and I don't expect it to be renamed to something else to hide the fact of what it actually is. I also think Americans as whole (again stereotyping) need to be less stressed out and less worried about material goods. Take time to unwind. Let yourself be a bit more free and stop worrying about what new Gucci purse is coming out. I get my purses from TJ Maxx thank you very much. Then again becoming a Mom (for me at least) has knocked me into the "real world".

I went off on a tangent, but you get what I am saying (well maybe). Cultural stereotypes is just something we all live with day to day. What are yours? Be honest now because I know you were thinking of some.

1 comment:

da Mamma said...

It is funny you say corolla, because I say all honda drivers. We all have some stereotypes we go with - some we learned from watching TV, others from our parents or society. I don't think stereotypes will ever go away. I think it is human nature to want to group things together to make things easier on ourselves, right or wrong.

I agree that as a society, Americans try too hard to please everyone. I agree that we shouldn't push our beliefs onto anyone who isn't accepting, but at some point you have to put your foot down and stand by your beliefs regardless of what others think. I think Americans have also become very selfish. It is very evident when you drive around. I think some people drive around and don't realize anyone else is on the road but them.

Kids lately think that everything should be handed to them and they shouldn't have to work for it. Both my aunt and my mother-in-law and attest to that fact. I wasn't brought up that way and I don't want my kids to be brought up that way, but sometimes I think you can't avoid it. I don't think that every team in a league should get a trophy or that every kid on the team should get a metal for "trying". Kids have to learn that not everyone wins and that you don't get rewarded in life for just trying - you have to work for (although there are some sad exceptions).

I look at my life on occasion and I'm happy for the material things we own, but at the same time I wish life was simpler and we didn't need as much stuff. I guess we can't have it both ways. I don't own expensive clothes, shoes, or purses, but I do own a rather nice townhouse and very nice cars. I yearn for a larger house and an old classic car, but I'm not so materialistic that I will put myself into bankruptcy to get them. But, if you want to get what you want, you have pull on your boots, pull up your pants, and trudge through. It will be worth it in the end.