Stereotypes rampant in high school and beyond
High school is an interesting experience, to say the least. In one day you can hear ten or so people stereotyped for no good reason, and witness multiple double standards as they are applied to somewhat undeserving recipients.
Scary thing is, there’s really no need to visit Nevada Union or Bear River to witness this, as the whole silly mess of people unjustly judging others runs rampant just about everywhere.
Although, no matter where I may be, if there’s one thing that really gets my feathers in a ruffle, it is when individuals apply a different set of standards to different segments of the population.
For example: the reigning Miss America was discouraged from using abstinence as a speaking platform, on the grounds that the topic may not be well received by each and every person roaming the earth and could possibly thrust the wrong image upon her. Heaven forbid that an innocent beauty queen would address a topic having to do with sex … And here I thought abstinence would have spotlighted her strength.
So, society can’t accept a girl promoting abstinence, yet we seem pretty cool with females who are sexually active and happen to have relations with more than one individual, being called (well, feel free to insert your own derogatory term here), while males can engage in the same exact actions, even to a further extent, and be labeled as nothing but studly.
Hmmm … Seems a little backwards.
Here’s what needs to happen: Miss America should be praised for crusading for a perfectly worthy cause. People should either accept the fact that females have just as much right as males to do what they wish, or some creative individual needs to create a term with some good negative connotations that girls could throw around while talking behind the backs of those guys who are “studly.”
But, obviously we don’t live in Perfectville, and a lot of things may never be accepted. Therefore, Miss America will continue to have to avoid new things, females will be named, and males will always be … well, “stud muffins.” The sad thing is that the whole concept brings a new meaning to the idea that everyone is created equally because, quite honestly, you’re only equal in most people’s minds until they decide otherwise.
Then the equality decision stereotypes begin to pop up like dandelions in an unkept lawn. Say Jill gets partnered with Jack for a class project. Because Jack is your typical jock type, Jill acts quite unfairly towards Jack because in her mind, he is simply a 200-pound mass of mindless muscle when, in fact, Jack is a 4.0 student who enjoys opera. Unfortunately, Jill will never know that Jack likes opera because Jill applied a stereotype to Jack. Why’d ya do it, Jill?
Jill did it because she didn’t take the time to consider that not all basketball players are egomaniacs with confused looks permanently smeared across their faces. And whether we admit or not, each of us does something similar each day when we don’t consider that not all bubbly blondes are airheads who drive sports cars. Or that not all people who choose to cloak themselves in black and dye their hair magenta are depressed and come from broken homes. Or that not all the members of the chess club study nonstop and wear coke-bottle glasses. Or that not all of the beauty queens want world peace … Get my drift?
I admit even I am guilty of stereotyping people after judging them with little or no knowledge of their personality from time to time, which, when stepping back and really examining the process, seems pretty darn petty. Quite honestly there’s no other way to describe it. I can’t call this childish, as people under the age of 12 aren’t nearly as judgmental as those above it. I can’t classify it as an activity that occurs most among the uneducated, as all aspects of society take part in it. But I can call it petty.
Thus, the question becomes: Why do we allow ourselves to waste so much time and energy on as petty a task as creating rumors and smacking labels on one another? Beats me. Perhaps it’s because that’s what we’ve always done, yet it need not be what we continue to do.
So, the next time an individual outside of your normal scope of friendship sits beside you in class, stands next to you in line at the store or smiles while strolling down the street, why not smile back, throw out a big “Howdy!” and make a new friend?
Or you could opt for the enforcer approach and simply tell the next Jill you see talking behind Jack’s back to put a sock in it and grow up. Whichever you prefer.
Natalie Russell of Grass Valley is a junior at Nevada Union High School. She writes a monthly column. E-mail her at email@example.com
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