Forget the fact that my blog has worn the “blogs for bush” button since… um… well at least the last election. I’ve never bothered to take it down. Forget that I voted for Bush not once, but twice, and am a fan of trickle-down economics. Forget that I thought Kerry and Gore were both full of crap, and blogged extensively on why I thought Kerry was in idiot in ’04. Forget that I was brave enough to walk on a college campus in this country with a “Bush Cheney ’04” sticker stuck boldly to the back of my binder for everyone to see.
Forget all of that.
Because I disagreed with a conservative (several of them) in the comments on another blog, I am a “liberal”. My father, a card-carrying democrat, would heartily disagree and is highly disappointed that his daughter is a “right wing conservative nut-job”.
I’m not here to gripe about the guy that labeled me a liberal. I firmly put him in his place and I am sure he now feels like an idiot, as he should. That’s good enough for me. What I want to discuss, is this growing concern that I have for the dangerous practice of our society to categorize things in groups and apply all aspects of those categories to the people within it, regardless of whether those aspects are true or false.
I guess it is our lot in life, to be slapped with stickers that say that we are this or we are that. We are part of some stereotype that someone else doesn’t like because we disagreed with their ideas. If this is the way life is to be, then I guess I’m a liberal.
Personally, I think stereotypes are born of ignorance. How can you possibly define a human being using a single word? Attempting to do so is to ignore the other facets of the person and choose the one that fits your ideal of them for the time being. It paints a poor picture of who they are, and often is simply dead wrong. If all stereotypes were true, my pillows would be soaked with brylcream and I’d be picking pocket protectors up off the floors because my husband is a nerd. He doesn’t wear pocket protectors, nor does he use brylcream, but the stereotype says he should because of that label, so it must be the truth, right?
So many people have been wrong about me in so many ways, that I have formed a decidedly bad reaction to someone labeling me with any sort of name. I get mad. I think everyone should get mad when they are unfairly labeled. In my view, this is an honest reaction to being shoved into a category by someone who has no idea who you are. The person who gave you that label has taken a look at who you are based on some very skimpy evidence and has chosen your core values for you. The idea of someone passing judgment on you on such shaky ground is simply offensive. It’s only natural that we would get angry about it. This is a very shallow and unfair basis on which to judge a person.
This leads us to the question of what we can do to stop stereotyping. The answer to this is very simple, but it requires you to make a choice. Do the benefits of stereotyping outweigh the consequences? I leave that for you to decide and think about.