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Author Topic: Posititve stereotypes.
Speed
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Okay, we all know what stereotypes are. Mexicans are lazy and stupid. Americans are fat. Men are insensitive. Middle-easterners are terrorists. Black people are criminals. Ideally we wouldn't believe any of them. Hopefully even if we do find ourselves thinking in these ways, we can at least recognize the fact that our instincts have betrayed us and not let it influence our actions.

My question is about the other kind of stereotype. Black people are athletically gifted and good at singing. Asians are good at math. Jews are funny. Gay people have the best relationship advice. These stereotypes are no more true than the negative ones, but they are less directly harmful than the kind that causes us to believe that it's okay to hurt or kill people. But are they really better? Are they as bad as negative stereotypes, a lesser evil, not at all evil, or actually good? Has anyone ever had experience being associated with a positive stereotype? How did it make you feel? Mad? Patronized? Proud?

Just curious about how these things are perceived and how they influence people.

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MEC
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I find that often these "positive" stereotypes simply are just negative stereotypes dissplayed over a larger group of people.
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BYuCnslr
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Asians are good at math and engineering, as well as great at playing the piano or violin.

I laugh at those stereotypes but looking at it...I'm above average in math...and I'm pretty good at playing the violin....hehehe, I don't help debunking the stereotype, thus I think it's rather funny.
Satyagraha

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Toretha
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Well, if you fail to live up to the positive stereotype, the result is often that people will notice more and make a bigger deal of it. Which doesn't really help anyone, usually
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BannaOj
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What about Blacks are better atheletes? Wouldn't the world records and professional sports seem to indicate this is so?

Some of the stereotypes are partially true due to different genetics.

I don't have any scientific data on it, but I imagine I could find it. Several martial artist instructors I know, have practiced for years to improve their reflex speed, say that blacks and asians have naturally faster reflexes, they see it in every class they teach.

(No wonder Tiger Woods is so scarily good, like Robin Williams says in his live on Broadway, you've crossed Black Athleticism with Tai concentration abilities...)

So what do you do about stuff like that?

AJ

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Telperion the Silver
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What would white folk be? They are better conquerors? [Wink] hehehe
Joke...it's a joke...

[ April 20, 2004, 04:29 PM: Message edited by: Telperion the Silver ]

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UofUlawguy
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Isn't this what brought about the downfall of Jimmy the Greek?
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Speed
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Well, the fact that a stereotype has a basis in fact doesn't make it right to propogate. For example, I think one could make a fairly convincing case that the average black person could beat the average white person in a game of one-on-one basketball. Even so, there's no such thing as an average person. Making assumptions about an individual based upon even a substantiated average is very dangerous.

Did anyone ever see the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry dates a white woman named, I think, Lisa Wong? George's mother and father are going to get a divorce until his mother talks to Lisa Wong on the telephone. She gets all kinds of advice from Lisa that she listens to because Asians are wise and spiritual. So she resolves her problems with her husband until she meets Lisa Wong and finds out that she's white, at which point she immediately resumes plans for a divorce. It's much funnier on the episode than in my summary. But I wonder how often we do things like this, and think that it's okay because we're not assuming anything "bad" about someone based upon their race.

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mr_porteiro_head
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I disagree that stereotypes are always harmful. Stereotypes exist for a reason -- because there is some truth to them. They are also useful.

The only problem is when we forget that these groups are individuals. There is *nothing* wrong with saying something like "Mormons tend to be conservative republicans". It's just when you start thinking "ALL Mormons are conservative republicans" that there is any problems.

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Ralphie
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quote:
What would white folk be? They are better conquerors? [Wink] hehehe
Speaking of which, I need some advice on my marriage, Telperion. But I'll just e-mail you.
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Olivetta
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In college and for a while thereafter, I found that people were usually surprised when I showed any intelligence at all, or used a word they assumed I didn't know, or something. It was because I was cute and outgoing, therefore people seemed to assume I'd never had to grow an intellect or personality to survive. [Wink]

That's not a positive stereotype, just one that sort of shocked me when I realized people thought I was pretty! *snort*

But when I was in first grade, I wore glasses. Other kids used to have me 'check' their work to see if it was right, especially in math. I don't know if they did it because I wore glasses and they assumed I was smart, or because I was *actually* smart. I think I may have actually gotten good at school stuff because it was expected of me. [Confused]

[ April 20, 2004, 03:46 PM: Message edited by: Olivetta ]

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Speed
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How is the statement that black people are good at sports different than the statement that black people are criminals? If I could show statistically that more gang violence is performed by black people than white people, would that justify my thinking that black person x is probably up to some criminal activity when I see him shopping at my store, and ready to bust a cap in my @$$ if I mess with him?

Again, the statement that "Mormons tend to be conservative Republicans" leads to the thought that "this Mormon I just met is statistically more likely to be a conservative Republican than that non-Mormon", which is a short train of thought away from the thought, "I'm sure that Mormon is probably a conservative Republican." This isn't the most harmful example, but it establishes a pattern of thought that can take us down some dangerous roads.

[ April 20, 2004, 03:50 PM: Message edited by: Speed ]

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Altáriël of Dorthonion
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I guess this all depends on your outlook on life. Personally, stereotypes come from culture. Americans are fat because of their hot dogs and such, but not all of them are. It depends on what kind of stereotypes are made. Whether its simply generelizing an idea or actually backing it up. After all it is true that black folks have more physical endurance because of their genes, but it also depends on how much effort they put into their sport. Its obvious that belonging to a certain race gives ou its ups and downs. But I think that we're still all equal when it comes to being human. [Razz]
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pooka
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I'm not sure if this was my mom the entertainer, or my mom the antropologist who said this. But she said people with poor eyesight tend to have more intelligence (though it is not the case the intelligent people tend to have poor eyesight). This is because until the last century, there was still survival pressure against folks with poor eyesight so they had to have compensating value to the community to survive.

I think understanding what is a valid causal relationship and what is not is important. If someone is tall and well muscled, they will tend to be a better athlete. If it happens that a certain group is more tall and well muscled, it is not the more obvious characteristic of their skin color that is making them the better athlete.

Whites aren't fat because they are white. They are fat because they are rich and sedentary. (The rich part is that the more options people have about food choice, the more often those choices tend to be based on taste and not nutrient density).

I don't know why asians are good at math. Probably because most asian immigration has been elective. So we get a disproportionate share of smart and determined asians over here. But from most of the martial arts films I've seen, they have their fair share of flunkies and degenerates back home. I'm asian =o=

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advice for robots
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Here's an interesting article about attractive people and how others tend to treat them.

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3917414/

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Mike
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Just to throw this out there -- I know this has been said before (and probably more succinctly and accurately) -- there is more genetic variation on average between two people of the same race than there is between races as a whole. So it seems far more likely that those stereotypes that do have some truth to them are based on cultural differences, not genetics.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
which is a short train of thought away from the thought
Let's go back to the not-so-insulting example. If 98% of all mormons were conservative republicans, then "That Mormon is probably a republican" is an absolutely true statement. Will the 2% be offended at it? Probably. But it is still accurate. The odds are that any mormon is republican (in this hypothetical example).

I think that stereotypes are only harmful when you forget that they are stereotypes, and not rules.

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mr_porteiro_head
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Here's a question for y'all.

About a week ago, pooka said something about people around here (Utah) treating her differently because she is not white.

Now, I've met pooka before, and I was surprised when she said that she is not white. I figured that I hadn't noticed her ethnicity. I remembered that she has dark hair, but then it seems that so does every ethnicity except for northern/western european.

And here in this thread, she says that she is asian. Once she said that, I remember it from when I met her.

So I *did* notice her ethnicity when we met, but her race was so unimportant to me that I forgot it.

So here's the question: is that good or bad? Should I try to be more conscious and sensitive of other's race? Or is color-blindness the ideal?

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katharina
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quote:
But she said people with poor eyesight tend to have more intelligence (though it is not the case the intelligent people tend to have poor eyesight). This is because until the last century, there was still survival pressure against folks with poor eyesight so they had to have compensating value to the community to survive.
Hmm... maybe the poor eyesight leads to less looking around, which leads to more alone time, which leads to more introspection and reading, which leads to what looks like intelligence?
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Olivetta
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Or, if you can't see the predators coming, you'll get along in life better if you're capapble of being sneaky/crafty. [Wink]
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Rhaegar The Fool
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Irish can hold their liquor excedingly well. And can lick anyone in a fight, with the possible exception of a narrow win over an australian. New Zealanders, Samoans, and Irishmen are born good at rugby.
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Olivetta
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I read that article, advice for robots, and I think it illustrates fairly clearly things I've seen in RL.

Robert was in daycare a few days a week when he wasabot six months old. With his adorable platinum blonde hair and cutie-pie smile, I think he got better care than some of the other babies. Sounds horrible, I know, but he was talked to more, and I saw how the girls loved to hold him. People came up to us in restaurants and commented on how cute he was. [Smile]

Then there was the fact that Ron always sent me out by myself in electronics stores, if he needed a sales clerk. He would say, "Go over there and look cute and clueless for me." It never took longer than three minutes for me to hook one and bring him back to Ron. *snort* It used to make me mad, but even I had to admit it WORKED.

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Alexa
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There can be negative consequences to positive stereotypes. What if there is a stereotype that all Asians are good at math, and some poor Japanese girl is judged accordingly who has absolutly no Math talent.

Let me try again. If you value someone based on a false stereotype, I consider it hurtful. Oh, he (black man) isn't good at sports, pathetic. Or worse yet, 'not good at sports...hmmm...must be good at capping people.'

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Tstorm
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Speaking of electronics stores, I work at one, and I think I have a useful contribution to make. Mind you, I realize it's a stereotype...

Indians and people of middle eastern descent enjoy bargaining, or at least they attempt to bargain more often than other people.

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Annie
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Thinking that clown fish are funny is a common misconception.
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Annie
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Seriously, though, there's also the fact that groups tend to perpetuate their own stereotypes for comic effect. Look at My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Moonstruck, Bend it Like Beckham, Friday, and Singles Ward. Is it dangerous for groups to laugh at their own stereotypes, or is it a way for them to save face by re-appropriating demeaning misconceptions?

[ April 20, 2004, 06:18 PM: Message edited by: Annie ]

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jehovoid
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There's a great line in Airplane where the stewardess gives a passenger a list of Jewish sports stars. I don't remember exactly how it goes, but this thread reminds me of it.
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skillery
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When checking into a motel, if the proprietor's name tag says "Patel," you're going to get excellent service.
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Chizpurfle
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Although well intentioned, many times these so-called "positive" stereotypes are blanket insults.

-Jews are smart and hard working, but at the same time, they are greedy SOBs.
-Asians are good in math- they are excellent at absorbing information. Like Robots. They are good when it comes to logic. Like Robots. However, unlike "us", they in where it counts- creativity and emotion. Like Robots.
-Mexicans are hard working. (As if you are saying, "I really can't think of anything great about them- but since they appear to be the ones that do all the backbreaking cheap labor- I will just say that they work hard.") [Roll Eyes]

Just the simple fact of stating that "Mexican's are hardworking," and "Asians are good at math," is in itself damaging. It is almost as if implying that me, as an Asian- is a whole different species from you, a human. It is also robbing a person of their individuality and attributing their good traits or success not to them, but to their ethnic group.

Most of all, it is analogous to seeing an ugly man and looking for something to compliment him about- but not seeing anything good about him, say out of desperation, "My, what a pretty set of...teeth you have!"

[ April 20, 2004, 08:58 PM: Message edited by: Chizpurfle ]

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Anna
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"French people are hot"
[Roll Eyes]

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Alexa
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Yes Anna, European men tend to be more romantic.
[Wink]

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Slash the Berzerker
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Olivia:

Whenever we need to get the car fixed, I always have my wife take it in. I tell her to wear her black skirt, and to put red lipstick on.

We get a discount every single time. It's like clockwork.

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Lissande
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Slovak men are sexy and have a charming way of occasionally saying "willage" for "village."

"You're so wiolent!"

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