The thing about stereotpyes

Stephanie Schoch

The jocks, the populars, the goths, the nerds, girls who eat their feelings, girls who eat nothing: I’m sure that jointly we could come up with a lengthy list of high school “types.” They’re known as clichés for a reason. In every high school in every city in every state there are clicks, groups, friends, stereotypes, whatever you want to call them. But the real punchline? These clusters made up of carbon copies never distinctly go away, even as adults or college students.

If I had to choose one predominant adjective to describe myself as an entering freshman, with large “deer-in-headlight eyes,” smiling at a world made of unicorns and rainbows, it would indisputably be naïve. I went in blind with my roommates simply because I thought that it would be fun. Yes, I embarrassingly regret to inform you that was the exact word that I used: fun. Looking back, I would modify that word, maybe to a two-worded “interesting experience.” Whichever way I describe it, I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret secret: my chances of getting the three roommates that I did was most definitely one in a million. I’ll give you a hint as to why: stereotypes.

Roommate number 1: Caucasian, Homecoming Queen senior year in high school, owns Sperry’s, was a big supporter of good ol’ Mitt Romney, has about two hundred debit dollars left over from the year. Roommate number 2: African American, eight to nine months pregnant, boyfriend lives in the apartment, enjoys fried chicken, has been known to say “finna” (for those of you who don’t know, it is meant to mean “fixing to” or “going to.” Stop asking why, because no one has an answer for you). Roommate number 3: Native American, owns a pair of mukluks, was first in her archery class last semester, brought back homemade beef jerky from home.

In a list format, it is easy to see these three beautiful people as characters, as I have not accounted for many of their other traits. But with dominant attributes that have, over time, become known to be associated with particular ethnicities, how can I not use the word cliché? How is it that I’m not suppose to stereotype when my living situation is like an 80s sitcom? There is an extensive difference between stereotyping and being prejudiced in that stereotypes can be easily pushed aside, but often prejudice is more permanent.

All writers are not drunks, all women are not terrible drivers, all 4.0 students are not socially inept. Humankind is idiotically proud of their ability to notice trends. “Hey, those three people who live in England have bad teeth, that must mean all of them are that way.” Or “hey, women cook a lot. That must mean they are meant to be in the kitchen.” Stupid.

Although brainless, I do have to rise to the defense of stereotypers. Past experiences dominate how we feel today, whether that means that all Asians are good at math, or men are physically stronger than women. The only time in which I peace out in the debate of clichés is when people are unwilling to change their previous ideas. Stereotypes have a way of being funny coincidences: so stop tip-toeing around them. They’re only offensive if you really believe them.
“Do you drink?” “Of course, I just said I was a writer.” -Stephen King