Insulting caricatures or useful generalisations?
The definition of a stereotype is that it is ‘a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing’. (http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/stereotype)
People like to put other people into groups. We separate them based on their appearance, their race, their origin, their gender, their behaviour or their opinions.
Those stereotypes are usually based on experiences and views by other people. Stereotyping is everywhere, in movies, on tv, in commercials or by people around you. The very basic stereotypes and probably the one that has been around for the longest is that women are supposed to cook and clean, get babies and stay at home where as men are the stronger sex, who work and protect women but also are in the position to decide over their wives. This image has changed over the years, women have a career and a family and do not have to choose between them. Men can be sensitive and it is acceptable for them to be a stay-at-home-dad. Stereotypes are affecting us from young upwards. If you are a girl you get pink clothes and dolls to play with. Boys have trucks as toys and play football. Of course this does not apply to everyone and the times are changing and fewer people care about with what their children want to play with, whether it is a doll or a football.
Everyone has stereotypes but it is important to keep an open mind because you might get proven wrong. Stereotypes might root in a grain of truth but it is wrong to insist on an opinion without actually question it.
Nowadays we watch how we talk about different groups of people and want to be political correct, but years ago it was common to call people names without being offensive.
Today books, which have been written in the last century, are being purged of words that are now seen as offensive. Works from authors like Astrid Lindgren are being politically corrected. The books have been written in a different time where it was normal to speak like that. But language changes and today we are supposed to be political correct. People say, that the children will get a distorted image of offended groups of people but if you talk to the children and explain them that it was a different time then and that language changes, they will understand. Classics are being censored but they were written in another time.
Stereotyping is not a good thing but people will continue using them because we like to form our opinions over people, if we like it or not.
The Adventures of Tintin, The Cigars of the Pharaoh, Here., 1934 (1955 colour)
Hergé depicts Africans as: ‘good at heart but backwards and lazy, in need of European mastery’ (McCarthy,2006)