Monday, June 18, 2012

Prejudice

I've been thinking a lot about Fruitcake's latest post. Or really the things that are being said in comments.  

Fruitcake says, I am inclined to be a little put out when people say "I am allowed to trash group X because I'm one of them, but you are not allowed to.

I have to admit to being guilty of that.  I bitch about Americans in my blog.   Then I get offended when Australians bitch about Americans. Is that fair? Not really.

But sometimes I feel more justified because I KNOW Americans....lots of them.   And on a very frequent basis, I interact with lovely people who happen to fit the negative stereotype of Americans—  Loud, ethnocentric, frequent bragging, and sense of entitlement.

When Australians complain about Americans, I'm thinking, what the hell do you know? What are you basing this opinion on?  The one group of loud tourists you ran into while hiking?  An episode of The Simpsons?  George W. Bush? A geographical blunder made by CNN?  

Fruitcake's complaint came after my list of complaints.  I realize I'm guilty of my own pet-peeves..at least one of them. I spoke against, people who act like they're doing me a favor by tolerating me, since they usually hate everyone else in my group.

I have my prejudices.  And I have my exceptions to the prejudice.

For example....

I'm prejudiced against a certain age group.

I'm an ageist, I suppose.

But there are a few people from this age group that I adore. Instead of thinking Well, maybe I've judged this group wrongly, I tend to think, Well, this person is not like the OTHERS.  

I try not to be, but I AM a prejudice person.  If I meet two or three people from the same religion, country, age group, ethnicity, etc; and they have something in common, I tend to imagine everyone from that group will have that trait as well.

It's stupid, really.  

It's irrational.

You probably need to know at least 100 people from a specific group for your personal stereotype to be even remotely valid.   

I definitely know more than a hundred Americans.  Or at least I've known MORE than that many through out my life.  I'm guessing that only a small minority fit the stereotypes I mentioned above.  

All in all, people are people. There's more variation between individuals than there are between groups.  My rational smart brain knows that.  The irrational dumb sections of my brain will probably never succeed in grasping the concept.


P.S-I can't complain too much about Australians judging Americans based on fictional American TV shows. Watching Offspring has raised questions in my mind about Australians, specifically their attitudes towards sex.   It's silly, though, because certain characters in certain American shows have the same attitudes and behaviors. It's probably more of a TV vs. reality thing than an Australian vs. American thing.   But when I see an American TV show, I can know better and think, that's not realistic or overly common...at least not with the people I know.   When I see it in an Australian TV show, sometimes I'm not really sure.