Change the Conversation
For years, I have shamelessly participated in the awful act of stereotyping. I’m not talking about blatantly judging people according to their skin color, ethnicity, or sexuality; I am talking about the shrouded stereotyping that conceals itself as jokes and conversation-fillers. I don’t even mean half of the things I joke about, but in saying such jokesI have helped perpetuate the societal norms that I myself am now trying to help humans break. I have participated in joking about how women are “always hormonal,” “always late,” “always crazy.” We’ve all done it (THERE I GO AGAIN) just to be part of the conversational banter, without giving it a second thought. Jesting about how men are “always predatory,” how men need to “grow a pair and ‘man up,’” and how “men shouldn’t have emotions.” Teasing one of my Pentecostal friends on being a “skirt-wearing Pentecostal.” About how “all feminists are crazy” and “all pretty girls are stuck up” and “all teenaged boys are immature.” Lumping people in to categories and assuming things about them—or even “harmlessly” joking about stereotypes and making excuses based on their existence (come on—how many of us girls have used PMS-hormal-induced-rage as an excuse when it’s convenient? I know I have!) are just perpetuating the legitimacy of the ideas. The truth is this: the more we continue to talk about stereotypes, whether in complete seriousness or in passing jest, the more we stoke the fire of judgmental bias. And I have decided to stop subconsciously and unintentionally perpetuating these stereotypical beliefs. I am going to change the conversation.
Believe it or not, saying things out loud without giving a second thought about the words you have spoken only ingrains those ideas into your subconscious. When you are presented with the question, “Do you actually believe those stereotypes?” you are suddenly at a loss of what you actually do believe, and therefore tend to defend the stereotypical, assumed beliefs because those are all society constantly shoves down your throat. Even merely resisting to speak up when these stereotypes are joked about or mentioned in conversation leads people to assume that you promote those beliefs.
In conclusion, I am going to change. I am going to stop and think about everything I say before I let it come out of my mouth and project it to the world like a personal billboard. I am going to stop and ask myself, “Do I really believe in the ideas behind these words that I am speaking?” If I don’t, then why am I saying them? Why am I promoting something that I don’t support? Stop mindlessly promoting stereotypes. Start changing the conversation.