Stereotypical Fiction

As long as we have fiction, we will continue to have stereotypes.

I know. That’s a pretty bold statement to start off a Monday. I’m basically saying that we will never stop judging and assuming one’s character based on certain traits and characteristics and mannerisms. Well, as long as we keep writing books anyway.

X drove a Mercedes. When you read that sentence, what does the word Mercedes bring to the story that car doesn’t? Wealth, privilege, debt, flash?

If I said X drove a Mercedes, wore a pinky ring and Italian leather loafers what do you see in your mind?

I I said X drove a Mercedes, wore a Swiss watch and donned bright white tennis sneakers, what do you picture in your mind?

If I said that X drove a 1972 Mercedes, wore birkenstocks and no jewelry, what would that tell you?

If you thought gangster, WASP and hippie are you stereotyping? Are you assuming the final tally based on the digits, even though I never used the words gangster, WASP or hippie?

Are you an old fashioned stereotyper? Or are you just deciphering clues?

Is the whole process of show not tell an exercise in how to stereotype?

I watched a medical drama last night. The character in the hospital bed said “Girl, you have to see the Doctor, He fly.” If you read that line of dialogue in a book, would you make any assumptions about the character? Would it be stereotyping if you made an assumption about the speaker of that dialogue?

When we read fiction do we make assumptions based on description? I wrote in one of my passages last week “couch with welcoming back support”. I was, as someone said, trying to denote that the speaker was at least in middle age. Young people never look at a piece of furniture and wonder about it’s comfort, or how easy it will be to get in or out of it…but some older people do. Not every person of a certain age thinks about the comfort of a chair…but some do… Is it wrong to guess the character I was describing was oldish?

So, do we rid our lives of fiction so that we can lead a life with no judging others based on characteristics?

Or do we just learn to deal with the fact that humans stereotype, always have stereotyped and always will?

The One Where I Stereotype

I was walking with the dog when I saw a BIG truck- the kind of truck that people use to haul things and do construction and stuff…

Big macho truck.

Driven by big, burly tattooed guy with a leather vest.

Did I mention the truck was painted pink?

Big, tough looking PINK vehicle- manned by big, tough looking guy.

On the side of the big, pink truck was an inscription to whomever the driver had lost to breast cancer. Some words about being an ambassador for curing the disease. A big pink ribbon telling people to please get checked out regularly.

All on this big pink truck.

When I saw it my first thought was:

Wow. What a great way to try to get a message across to people. Use you vehicle to promote awareness about a devastating disease.

My second thought was:

I’m just surprised that this big tough looking guy actually did this on his work truck

I know. Flog me. I’m a bad person because I don’t think shaved head, muscled tattooed guys can be sensitive to women’s issues and to so openly being devastated by the loss of a loved one.

For the record, I know that I shouldn’t judge people by how they look. Yet…there I was, dumbfounded by looking at the man and reading the message.

Macho guys have the stereotype of being insensitive. The word macho even implies uber maleness…when I see a macho guy every bad stereotype of men pops into my head.

I just can’t help it.

When I walk by construction sites and these big guys stop to pet my dog and AWWWWWW over her cuteness, I am always taken aback. Really? These guys actually think my 7 pound fluffy dog and her pink raincoat are cute? Don’t they see that rather stately German Shepherd right over there?

No matter how evolved we think we have become, we still can fall back on judging a book by its cover. We see a “type” and we “assume”.

If you’ve ever seen “The Odd Couple” you know that when we assume, you make an ass out of u and me

Don’t assume anything.

Don’t stereotype.

In The Pink

My wardrobe is mainly black, a little grey and a splash of white and olive green. I wear black because it makes me feel confident.  My house is earth tones- tan, brown and olive green. This color environment is calming. Neutral. Serene. Non descript.

But, I do have a signature color: pink.  I own a pale pink moto jacket and two hot pink bags.  My phone case: pink.  My wallet/key thing: pink.  My bathrobe: pink.  My mainly colorless world has little pops of pink running though it.

Yesterday Deb made an interesting comment about Little Women: I posed the question, which character did you most relate to. Deb responded how the four main characters represented the stereotypes of the day, and how we are probably a little piece of the different characters. And she was right- the characters are stereotypes.  And, people do group others into types.  Just like they do when people choose one color over another.

When people see me wearing black, they jump to conclusions.  Emo, Goth, plain, boring, chic, urban…the list goes on.  They see my all black outfit and make assumptions about the type of person I am.  Now this doesn’t happen in NYC too much, because black is a predominant color in a Manhattan wardrobe. But when I traveled…I think I was spotted as a New Yorker before I even opened up my accent…

Now let’s jump to the pink.  Pink gets a bad rap.  I know Mother’s who will not let their girls wear pink- they think it’s “too” feminine”.  I get odd glances when I walk around with my hot pink patent shoulder bag. How can I wear pink? I see the look in their eyes without them opening up their accents…

And maybe pink is feminine.  But I’m OK with that.  I’m feminine. This is neither a good or a bad trait- it’s just part of who I am and I wear it proudly.  I’m OK with the pale pink side of my personality.  I’m 100% OK with being a female.

But what about the other shade of pink, the shocking pink, the hot pink…Personally I think those shades of pink are a lot more bold than red. And boy do I throw my fuchsia around…

I am not just the pale color associated with all things Easter and all things cute…I am also bold and innovative and in your face. I take calculated risks. I can be reserved and I can be authoritative….

I am not one thing. I have many dimensions, many shades….

Yet- if you hear I love pink….what do you think?