329 Days ’til 40: Silencing Stereotypes

29 Mar

Thank you to my readers who so eloquently pointed out something I did not address in my post “331 Days ’til 40: Defining Ourselves.”  They brought it to my attention that, while I did a good job addressing the need to resist labeling ourselves, I did not address the reality of when others label you.

This is one of those days when I have to admit that I am posting with more ideas and questions than answers, and I welcome the input of those who are reading this post and can relate.  There are so many labels that society or people within society place on us….. even subconsciously.  From the moment we meet a new individual our subconscious mind is hard at work “classifying” the new acquaintance according to our own life experiences…..  It is as though, by slapping labels and stereotype on people we make ourselves feel better because we can claim to understand and predict the behavior of this new individual.  We start labeling and stereotyping….

  • Black or white?
  • Christian, Jewish or Muslim?
  • Mac or PC?
  • Chocolate or Vanilla?
  • Republican or Democrat?
  • Right wing or left wing?
  • Gay or Straight?
  • Butch or Femme?
  • Strong or Weak?
  • Smart or Stupid?

While some individuals may argue that these labels and stereotypes are okay because there can often be an ounce of truth in a stereotype, I struggle to agree.  These labels are so disempowering and, more often than not, are used in ways that do not empower the individuals receiving these labels.  I do believe that society’s desire to label and stereotype emerges out of a deep need for belonging and control.  We label those around us as we seek to find someone who is not threatening to us, someone who may fit in a similar category.

“I think fitting in is highly overrated. I’d rather just fit out… Fitting out means being who you are, even when people insist that you have to change. Fitting out means taking up space, not apologizing for yourself, and not agreeing with those who seek to label you with stereotypes.”  ~ Golda Poretsky

While the quote from Poretsky may indeed be true, what on earth do we do when others stereotype us?  I sometimes feel as thought it is situation dependent.  There are times I find that individuals are so narrow-minded, insecure and unreasonable that I draw the conclusion that they are not worth my efforts to attempt to educate them and assist them in dissolving their judgement.  There are times when I agree with Poretsky and I believe that we must challenge stereotypes at all costs.  There are other times when I realize I am not reasoning with a rational, healthy human being and I draw the conclusion that the best thing to do is walk away.  I also hold firm to the belief that positive relationships are the best way to combat stereotypes and labels.  Once an individual is given the opportunity to get closer to a person who stereotypes them they learn that we are all the same on the inside – we need food/ water/ shelter/ baths/ etc.  When people spend time with me and my family, for example – they see we are as boring as the rest of the world and that helps to dissipate stereotypes.

How DO we reject stereotypes?  Can we be an advocate for the powerless and commit to standing up to stereotypes, policies and labels that we know are wrong?  Are we willing to risk a job or a grade in order to sacrifice for a greater cause and hang out with our friends?

“We are much too much inclined in these days to divide people into permanent categories, forgetting that a category only exists for its special purpose and must be forgotten as soon as that purpose is served.”  ~ Dorothy L. Sayers, Are Women Human?

I LOVE this quote by Sayers – as people do label us for many reasons and when we they are ready to rid themselves of the labels there is great joy and freedom.

I believe education and exposure are the best ways to combat the very critical issue of labels and stereotypes because as people spend time with you, the stereotypes can crumble with repeated exposure.

I will leave you with this quote from Margaret Mead:

“Instead of being presented with stereotypes by age, sex, color, class, or religion, children must have the opportunity to learn that within each range, some people are loathsome and some are delightful.”  ~ Margaret Mead

Today, 329 days ’til 40, I will continue to remind myself not to stereotype others and to stand up for myself when I am subjected to stereotypical labels and comments.  I hope our society can really, TRULY learn to look past what they believe we are to the people we really are.  I will involve myself in education to help our community understand that differences are to be celebrated, not ridiculed.  I will be open to what others say about how to educate others in order to end labels and stereotypes, as I clearly lack the answers in this category, but still want to do my part to alleviate this discrimination.



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89 responses to “329 Days ’til 40: Silencing Stereotypes

  1. doubleinvert

    March 29, 2012 at 00:14

    And then, there’s transgender, too.

    For my part, I don’t think of it as I’m labelling myself. I think of it as using descriptive vocabulary. Language is the primary tool I use to get ideas across. For instance, in the “about” section of my blog, I have what some might call labels describing myself. I don’t think of them as such, though.

    I would not say that stereotypes have any basis in truth. Stereotypes have their bases in observations, and observations depend on point-of-view.

    What do I do when I’m stereotyped by others? Well, it depends on who’s doing the stereotyping. I know that there are some people whom I will never be able to convince that I am indeed fully human and not a monster. For those stereotypers, I just move on. For the fence-sitters, those I engage and try to explain myself. I might fail, but I’ll try.

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 09:01

      A very good point (and yes, there are quite a few stereotypes I left off my list). And I agree with you fully….. you make a particularly good point about who to engage with – when you know people are so closed minded they will never change, it is not necessarily worth the energy to speak with them, but it is worth the energy to dialog with people who are open to listening.

  2. deanjbaker

    March 29, 2012 at 00:15

    good posting

  3. leah elizabeth

    March 29, 2012 at 00:24

    Maybe an answer is to not ‘stand up’, responding to judgements maybe shows that you are agreeing that you should be judged, just judged in a way that you see fit. Maybe the answer lies not in what you ‘do’ but in what you ‘are’. It all starts with number 1, the person staring at you in the mirror, accept yourself, truly accept yourself, once you start to love and accept who you are you understand what it means to be accepted, therefore being able to give it.
    Along the journey the self acceptance will start to pour onto others, accepting them for what they are. In that you allow vulnerability like you previously said, you allow relationship and all those barriers and walls that cause the judgements in the first place fall down, and love can be received, judgements aren’t needed anymore because you know you were always enough as you are and so is the person in front of you. Sometimes the reason why others judge is because they don’t know self acceptance and the only way they will know it is to be shown it, to experience it.
    Love who you are, and that love/attitude will pour onto those around you. It is a journey that takes time, but its one worth taking.

    Don’t try just be.

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:56

      Great comment! Thank you so much! It is true that self-acceptance is contagious and sometimes when we acknowledge the stereotypes and judgements we give them more power…. good point!

      • leah elizabeth

        March 30, 2012 at 00:24

        I’m glad it added to the interesting point’s you already made, sorry for taking over your page with my essay!! x

        • 400daystil40

          March 30, 2012 at 10:23

          Please do not apologize, I really appreciate when people are thinking and adding to the conversation – the dialog is how we all learn and grow – so thank you again!!! 🙂

  4. jensine

    March 29, 2012 at 00:49

    I thinks that being free of any prior thought is nearly impossible but I do believe that if you are aware that you see people in little pre-packed-boxes you can always unpack and surprise yourself with what they may REALLY be like

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:55

      I LOVE this comment, Jensine – you are so correct! We know we will label and place people in boxes, and those of us who are evolved enough to be aware of this fact will be able to benefit from moving past our stereotyping others to unpack the boxes and gain that gift you mention! 🙂

      • jensine

        March 29, 2012 at 08:58

        Ah thanks …. My blog is nearly two weeks old now and I must say I am enjoying the communication around the world 🙂 still not sure what I am doing but a few people seem to enjoy reading it

        • 400daystil40

          March 29, 2012 at 09:05

          Yes, what an adventure blogging is! I am also new to it…. only been at it for 71 days (but you could probably figure that out from my countdown!) Thank you again!!! 😉

  5. rabidmongoose

    March 29, 2012 at 00:56

    Fantastic! I love your honesty in bringing more questions than answers to this topic.

    I’m going to badly paraphrase a story I heard Zig Ziglar tell about Buddha to address this post:

    A man confronted Buddha on the road one day and began spewing mean, vile, and nasty things at him and calling him all sorts of names. When he was done, the man asked Buddha, “What do you think of that?!”

    Buddha replied with this story: “A man once tried to deliver a gift to his neighbor that was meant as an insult. Though he knocked loudly at the neighbor’s door, the neighbor would not answer and accept the gift that was being offered. Eventually the first man grew weary of knocking and left with the bad gift…to whom does the insulting gift belong?”

    The man that had accosted Buddha replied, “It belongs, I suppose, to the man who offered it.”

    To which Budda said, “Your insults I refuse to accept.”

    The man turned and slowly walked away, ashamed.

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:51

      Thank you, Rabid Mongoose for your wonderful comment! I LOVE the story you shared!!! I hope the readers scroll down and read this! Yes, sometimes we must admit that we do not have all the answers and just have to sit with the reality that we have the questions that need to be dealt with.

  6. leese315

    March 29, 2012 at 00:57

    Interesting blog, it reminded me of something that I learned in my Health and Gender class this term. We were learning about gays and lesbians and how some lesbians are more masculine than others etc. but something that struck me was when we read a study that was done. There was a person who worked at a department store and they didn’t have any distinct features to present them as a man or woman. The clothes they wore were baggy and did not give off a body type, the hair was cut shorter, easily worn on a male or female, the facial features were not distinctive of that of either sex.

    So what the study was looking at was the customers who entered the store and were in contact with this individual, what their reactions to this person was. They were asked how they felt around this person. The general answer was that they were uncomfortable not knowing if this person was a male or female. The overwhelming responses they got were vastly the same. So they came to the conclusion that, because we are sexual beings and we want to impress the sex that we are attracted to, they found it unsettling that they could not decipher the sex of this person.

    Getting back to your blog, maybe we stereotype people because it makes us more comfortable in knowing (or think we know), who we are dealing with. If we can stereotype a person then we can make generalizations of people. Don’t get me wrong I wish people did not stereotype, because I know that everyone is so different and it is something that we as human beings need to stop doing, but that could shed a little light on why we might do it? =)

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:49

      Thank you, leese315! Wow, thank you so much for sharing what you learned in class – it is such a great example and so relevant to what I posted! I do agree with you, many people stereotype because we feel more comfort in being able to classify those around us, as if this classification allows us a sense of control.
      Thank you for your great comment and wonderful example!

  7. Kate

    March 29, 2012 at 01:09

    Some people have irrational fear of the unknown or of people they are unable to understand/relate to. Our mainstream media often feeds this fire by encouraging people to hold on to stereotypes and/or prejudices. The ongoing Republican/Democrat, left/right wing, liberal/conservative rhetoric is a key example of this. It is sad when people cannot appreciate differences and see that these differences are what make our planet beautiful. Also, it is unfortunate that some people cannot see how much we all have in common with one another. Finally, labels prevent people from developing relationships with others they would otherwise find enjoyable.

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:48

      Kate, you are so right! When will our world be able to come together and focus on commonalities and celebrate our differences? I agree, labels do indeed prevent us from getting close to people who could be greatly enriching our lives.

  8. olgamontenegro

    March 29, 2012 at 01:15

    I love everything about this post. Thank you for being so candid.

  9. terry1954

    March 29, 2012 at 01:48


  10. 007blueray

    March 29, 2012 at 01:48

    Namaste 400daystil40,

    ‘Stereotyping’, ‘labels’ etc. are all common ego traits of humans journeying on 3D level. Humans have been ‘categorized’, labeled in our IDs and societies etc for many eons by the governmental systems worldwide. That system was created to ‘recognize’ and ‘resonate’ with what they can ‘manage’ and what they ‘assume’ they will have a harder time to ‘manage’. Castes systems by more ancient Eastern/medieval system were more primitive and till this day, still exists.

    What others will stereotype us, is what they will mirror for themselves.

    Example: If someone were to tell me that I’m unfriendly and have an ‘uppity’ attitude, it would be that….they see that attribute in themselves. It is a mirroring effect. In time, when they have a chance to spend some time with me, they will come to another ‘conclusion’ and tell me that I’ve another ‘trait’ ..and so on….and so on.

    The truth of this lesson is: What others ‘think’ of me, is not my business. Detach from what they feel, think, say or do. By ‘reacting’ to their ‘conclusion’ of who we are, would be to tell them that they are ‘right’. There aren’t any ‘right or wrong’. Humans ‘react’ according to their own soul lessons/purpose at different point of time/moment and it’s constantly changing, mutating etc. It’s always different and evolving. Therefore, it’s all right to teach ourselves to ‘detach’ from their ‘labels’. Detachment doesn’t mean that we don’t care. We do..we always do…. as we are all One – One Divine Family.

    There are billions of souls journeying and if we were to get ‘annoyed’ all the time, with what others have to say about us – there will be no end to it. They have ‘free will’ to think, say and long as it doesn’t hinder our spiritual growth. Each one of us, we all have our own karmas to deal with and dualistic ego traits are one of those soul lessons which we have to experience, learn, to rise above it and to keep the wisdom upon learning it. We take the lessons with us and at the same time, we are also leaving ‘markers’ / signposts for others to follow. That way, no one will let ‘lost’.

    Each time someone ‘labels’ us – just remember ..they are just ‘mirroring’ a part of themselves and they need to see it in somebody else, so that they may learn to recognize the ‘markers’ / ‘signposts’ and understand that they have work to do – within themselves.


    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:45

      Thank you for your great comment! I often use the quote, “We hate most in others that which we hate about in ourselves” – I have no idea who said it, but it is really in line with what you are saying. I also like your comment about detaching from what others thing, which I think is important. I hope the readers scroll down and read your comment, because it is wonderful! Thank you so much for posting 🙂

  11. Janet

    March 29, 2012 at 01:50

    Thank you. This is exactly what I needed to read today.

  12. writerwannabe763

    March 29, 2012 at 02:01

    You did a pretty good job of stereotyping ..the who’s and why’s.

    In our own minds I think we do label or think of different people in a stereo-typical way. But if we are reasonable, we question doing so and then try to alter our thinking somewhat.

    The man who stereo-typed that young lad in Florida, just because he was black and wearing a hoody, and walking in an area that seemed inappropriate for him to be in….caused his feelings or possible his racism, to leap way out of control and ended that young person’s life. That is an extreme case but how many extreme or every day things do people do because they have ‘stereo-typed some race, color, religion, ethnicity, or the life style of a person.

    I think we have to ‘own’ that we possess these feelings, but be wise enough to argue ourselves about the legitimacy of them.

    Even if we think someone or something IS wrong in our eyes, we should not set ourselves up as judges. In the end we shall all be judged for our own thoughts, actions or lack of same.

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:41

      Thank you (I think!) for acknowledging my ability to stereotype!!! 😉
      I do agree with you, we all do it and I would at least hope that most reasonable people acknowledge their biases and keep them in check…. The man in Florida, as you say, did not do this….. and the results were horrific. Until we really know a person, REALLY know them, to judge them would not be fair….. and we cannot judge the content of a person’s character by their “cover” – we need to know them first.

      • writerwannabe763

        March 29, 2012 at 16:27

        The first sentence in what I said was not worded correctly or clearly. I meant to say you did a good job in explaining the who’s and why’s of the ways in which we stereotype!!

        • 400daystil40

          March 29, 2012 at 16:29

          That is so funny!!!! Thank you for a good chuckle! 😉

  13. Linda Willows

    March 29, 2012 at 02:20

    When we learn the damage of either giving or accepting stereotypes and labels, we might be at the first step to becoming free and understanding the nature of freedom. I think that labeling is done for more than “predicting and maintaining control”. I covets the ego’s fear of vulnerability, fear of one another and of the unknown. We display a fear of invasion and seek protection. Perhaps, primal but surely we are meant to grow into peaceful beings. Stereotyping, must examine itself.
    To you, from Linda

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:39

      What a good point, understanding how incredibly damaging they are is very important. I agree with you completely, that the labels are about us needign to control (or rather, needing to try to convice ourselves that we have control). Thank you for your great insight!

  14. ibbob500

    March 29, 2012 at 02:35

    Great job on a tough topic. You’re braver than I am for tackling it! Like you said, it seems for me that, as much as I don’t want to, I’m inclined to stereotype sometimes. I’m not sure it’s completely avoidable. But gentle reminders, to myself first and also to others, are a good thing. Thanks for the reminder!

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:37

      Thank you…. yes, I think it is critical to admit our own tendencies towards stereotyping others. We need to look in the mirror first and go from there….

  15. irishsignora

    March 29, 2012 at 03:39

    I reject stereotypes (and am teaching four kids to do likewise) by embracing one simple reality. I’m Kelly. I’m comfortable in my own skin, and if other people feel a need to pigeonhole me for their own comfort, I’ll just have fun freaking them out every once in a while when I do what comes naturally to me, but is completely unexpected to them 🙂

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:35

      Such a good point, and I think this is where education comes in…. we may not be able to change older generations who stereotype, but perhaps we can at least make a difference for our next generation…

  16. LauraLee

    March 29, 2012 at 05:34

    Dorothy Sayers! Do you know how often I get blank stares if I mention Dorothy Sayers?
    So lovely to read your thoughts: icing on the cake to read familiar quotes from much-loved writers in the process. 🙂

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:33

      Yea! So glad you know her work! Yes, I imagine many would not have any idea who she is! 🙂

  17. buckwheatsrisk

    March 29, 2012 at 06:15

    I love this! I have to say there is one stereotype that a bunch of us have in common and i am proud to be one…Blogger 😉

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:32

      Yes, buckwheatrisk!!! Good point! 😉

  18. bethincoach

    March 29, 2012 at 06:29

    I truly enjoyed reading this post about stereotyping. thanks so much for sharing your run at 40. what an enjoyable read! thanks too for liking my post “That Time of the Month” on my blog… keep up the great writing!

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:32

      Thank you! 🙂 I wrote a post on the same topic as yours a while back, which is what drew me to your post.

  19. elpulloverazul

    March 29, 2012 at 07:47


    once when i was young somebody asked me: “and you? what are you?” that person found the questions reasonable when i found it non-sense. I thought: ” do i have to be something?”. after that i decided i can not find myself in one group or another. i dont classify people either. I think if we do that people will not be under one stereotype, they will be under many. because you can be female white with a mac eating chocolate in a gay bar, and which kind of stereotype is that?

    have a nice day!


    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:54

      Your comment made me smile! I agree with you so much! My family could be stereotypes in many different ways due to where we come from, etc… and we prefer to see ourselves as we truly are – a loving family that cares deeply about each other and society. 🙂

  20. bleneraida

    March 29, 2012 at 08:30

    How nice to see in words in the morning what I am fighting in my mind to explain to my soul. These months have been the revelation for me and I understand by experience exactly what you are explaining so well in your words. Poretsky and Sayers just made my mind so clearer now, thank you. I believe they are right, I have been fitting these days for what I stand up and I have never been so well in my body and my mind.
    We are what we stand for and we are who we are, nobody has to try to change you are include you in a specific stereotype while your soul is so free to be anywhere she want.

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:52

      Wow, I am so glad that the timing of this posting meant a lot to you. Yes, we are who we are and we need to be true to ourselves – people’s reactions are their own issues.

      • bleneraida

        March 29, 2012 at 08:59

        Yes you are totally right, and I have been for so long, and maybe too long trying to moderate or avoid people’s reaction for this or that, not be bad or anything…… And this is not living truly to ourselves. I am me and I love that, and I love this… what to do I love the people around me only because they are what they are and would never want them to change for any reason.

        I really loved your post, you amde me smile and convinced I am on the good road. Thank you!!!!!

        • 400daystil40

          March 29, 2012 at 09:04

          Thank you so much! I am so glad to hear there are others out there who think like I do! 😉

  21. Victoria Oldham

    March 29, 2012 at 09:57

    I have a friend who says, “I don’t mind if people label me, but I won’t allow it to be a box I can’t escape from.”

    I think as human animals we automatically label things–good/bad, fight/flight. As we’ve become less nomadic and a global community, we’ve allowed those labels to become far more than simple ways to stay safe. They’ve become sociological markers of status–if you’re outside the ‘norm’ you’re instantly a threat of some kind.

    I take on the label of lesbian because I’m proud of who I am, and practically every day I’m coming out to someone–another co-worker who asks if I’m married, a doctor who asks if I’m pregnant, etc. I use the label to educate, to show that I’m just another person, and hopefully alter their impressions/stereotypes of what a lesbian is. The longer they know me, the more the definition attached to that label may change. Hopefully. 🙂

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 10:19

      Thanks, Victoria, for your great comment and for bringing up such an important point. Sometimes when we label ourselves for other people it helps to normalize who we are and educate them, and hopefully change the stereotypes they have in their minds. I apprecaite your input and hope you will visit again! 😉

  22. saymber

    March 29, 2012 at 15:02
    my comment: J Johnson unfortunately a few sterotypical, young troubled black men can really have an adverse effect for the group overall.

    When my husband and I lived in Delaware we lived in a very poor section of town with a high black population; lots of Section 8. In a complex adjacent to ours the drug problem was so bad that on election day back in 2008 they staged a drug sting and carted off quite a few people. In contrast to that, I can remember coming up to a group of pretty scary looking young black men one day and they were the nicest, most friendly bunch…proof you should never judge a book by the cover. We were surrounded with the scary, angry, drug selling, loud rap music playing young black men stereotypes and had validation every day. We were afraid to go out at night…sometimes even during the day. We felt very out of place as the minority in this area. My husband and I found ourselves becoming something I never thought I would (my grandparents were very active fighters for black civil rights and taught me not to judge people by race, sexual orientation…any label). A few bad apples making for a view that the whole basket is rotten.

    Every segment of labeled peoples in this world can be the worst ambassadors to their groups. They serve with their actions and deeds to add fuel to the fires of stereotypes. It’s hard to keep in mind that one does not mean all. It is incumbent apon each individual to treat people like they want to be treated no matter what their “label” – give people the benefit of the doubt instead of know what assuming does…makes an ass out of you and me lol. I hope this recent death of a young black man will not just stir the black community to rage and focus on the persuite of justice for just one person but look beyond the situation to how the greater problems of the young black community can be dealt with. Getting young black men and women opportunities for greatness — education, jobs, positions of influence in all levels of government and communities. Create a new, greater and stronger, much more positive stereotype — black people are people who, like anyone else on this planet, want to do better, deserve to have a chance at greatness beyond sports scholarships and singing…a chance to be anything they dream they can be — like all of us do.

    Isn’t it time for racism and bigotry, negative stereotypes to end?

    1!#4 – Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:43 AM CDT – Roger Ailes’ Secret Nixon-Era Blueprint for Fox News

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 16:43

      What a wonderful comment, Saymber!!! Thank you so much! Yes, it is time for racism, bigotry and negative stereotypes to end – it is PAST time! I love everything you have to say in this comment… I hope readers scroll down and read it! 🙂

  23. lengesinski

    March 29, 2012 at 15:58

    Excellent Points and a Great Posting!

  24. mountainmae

    March 29, 2012 at 16:45

    I wonder where the saying “Other people’s opinion of you is none of your business.” fits in the puzzle. Do we have to try to change other’s opinion?

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 23:02

      Great saying to bring up and great question to link to it….. Other readers have made similar comments… I think some opinions cannot be changed and are probably not worth the investment of our time and energy… but there are others who may be willing to be educated… it seems those are the minds we want to try to change. 😉

  25. Katrina

    March 29, 2012 at 18:37

    I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award, view my recent post for the guidelines

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 23:01

      Why, thank you!!!! 😉

      • Katrina

        March 30, 2012 at 01:10

        your welcome

  26. Anya

    March 29, 2012 at 18:57

    Thank you again for another wonderful thought provoking post. Stereotyping? It’s unfortunate and I don’t think it will ever be silenced. As long as there is hate in this world, it will always exist. I want to share with one of my favorite quotes. It says, ““Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ― Dr. Seuss.

    I have been discriminated against many times because I am a young female entrepreneur, in a male dominated world. It is difficult at times to see that stupid stuff like stereotyping or discriminating still exist! I don’t give it more attention because it doesn’t deserve it. I move on to what matters and what is going to make a positive difference in what I do. Until next time! Have a wonderful day!

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 23:00

      Thank you, Anya! I am also really enjoying your comments! I LOVE LOVE LOVE that Dr. Seuss quote – in fact, I had it on my work signature line for over two years!!!!! 😉 I wish you the best in your career – and I hope that you go out there and prove to everyone that you belong, even in that male dominated field!

  27. simon7banks

    March 29, 2012 at 19:17

    More or less agree, but “Republican or Democrat” (or the equivalents in other coutries), or the name of your religious group, are not disempowering descriptions in themselves: they are the names for commitments you’ve freely entered into. Membership of a political party, for instance, gives you the ability to engage in its affairs, to have your voice heard, to try to influence policy and so on – and also to learn from people who share something with you. In the U.K., where I live and am a citizen, I can call myself a Liberal Democrat because that’s the name of the political party I’m a member of, and it would be strange if I objected to others calling me the same. The trap comes when either you or others assume these are complete and adequate descriptions of you or even your opinions, or that all Liberal Democrats, all Christians, or all whatever other names are listed, are the same.

    Some names reflect a shared experience of how other people see you or treat you. To go back to your original question – I remember overhearing two young Israeli guys in Scotland, just out of the army, talking to an English girl. Suddenly one of her questions provoked one of the guys to say, “I don’t believe in God”. His companion was shocked: “How can you say you’re a Jew if you don’t believe in God?” The lad replied, “I’m a Jew because other people call me a Jew.”

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 22:58

      Very interesting point, yes sometimes labels for identity work for some people. Great comment! Thank you so much – I love your story at the end, such important commentary on the world today.

  28. Karen Berthine

    March 29, 2012 at 20:09

    Love the quotation from Poretsky!

  29. Widdershins

    March 29, 2012 at 20:52

    What a wonderful concept … I’m going to sign up and continue the journey with you!

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 22:48

      Thank you, Widdershins! I look forward to your following the journey and sharing your insight!

  30. Yousei Hime

    March 29, 2012 at 20:56

    Very enjoyable read and thought-provoking, which is always good. Thank you for your recent visit and like. If I had to label my blog in reflection of yours, it would be 8yearspast40 and still clueless. 😉

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 22:47

      Thank you so much! 🙂 Your last sentence made me laugh! Thank you!!!

  31. guavalounge

    March 30, 2012 at 01:37

    Your posts are great. I can’t wait until you reach 40! I am over 40 and my blogs more about being there. It actually starts making a whole lot more sense once you are! Good luck

    • 400daystil40

      March 30, 2012 at 10:11

      Thank you Guava Lounge (love your name!!) I am glad that once I turn 40 it is supposed to make more sense! 😉

  32. michaelwatsonvt

    March 30, 2012 at 04:16

    Thanks for this thoughtful post. As you may know, there is a substantial body of research that suggests the human brain uses stereotyping as an essential labor saving strategy. (Using less energy is important as the brain uses a LOT of energy.) If that is so, perhaps we might benefit from noting our stereotyping and question it’s accuracy, rather than try to do away with it entirely. More importantly, maybe can, as you suggest, resist acting on it reflexively. That is, maybe we can learn to reflect on our brains’ tendency to oversimplify, before we act in harmful ways.

    • 400daystil40

      March 30, 2012 at 10:06

      Yes, you bring up a very good point. I think you are so correct, awareness is such a critical factor….. I wish more people were willing to step back and do exactly what you suggest!

  33. Spider42

    March 30, 2012 at 08:38

    Nice post.
    As it stands I do agree with you on an ideal level, but realistically I feel that zero-labels is a scenario that socially and culturally we as a race are not ready for yet.

    And it’s not as evil a thing as many assume – if you meet me (for eg) if you know I’m from India, a comic geek, writer, laid-back, agnostic (more or less), etc, these things help you get to understand aspects of what makes me what I am. Stereotyping in my view is different from this – that would be if you picked on one and assumed that I was an incarnation of the worst of most obvious of whatever stereotype.
    BUT, knowing these things about me gives you ground to converse and get to know other things, which then mean that these things matter less and less as you know me better.

    In today’s overly politically correct world I think we take these things too seriously and need to not react and be fearful of ALL labels all the time. It’s a silly analogy but thats like saying we won’t name anything and that leaves you with foil bags and tin cans and boxes that all look the same from the outside so “Mystery meals all around!” becomes a problem. But if you know more or less what you are getting to start with, you can try it out and then judge for yourself if it’s your type or not – might be something you normally like but end up hating, something you don’t know but end up loving. Anything’s possible.
    Not the ideal example but I hope it makes the point I was going for here.

    Cheers. (and promise I’ll stop leaving such HUGE comments, bad habit!)

    • 400daystil40

      March 30, 2012 at 09:35

      I just have to respond that I love your HUGE comments – that means you are thinking/ questing/ analyzing – you are helping to create a true dialog on these topics. I just hope that other readers pay attention to them because they are good!!! 🙂

      I like your comment about how we can go too far the other way…. labels are bad but so is being so politically correct that we are not really able to engage in conversation/ etc. We also cannot deny that we all do have a history, a culture, a heritage – and these things are important.

      Thank you, once again, for your amazing insight! Please keep those long comments coming!!!! 😉

      • Spider42

        March 30, 2012 at 10:45

        Great! 🙂
        Will try to be more concise in future but I promise to keep responding in detail. Thanks, I’m glad you approve.
        Also glad you got what I was going for regarding the extremes, you’d be surprised (or maybe not) at how many folks are one or the other and just plain incapable of seeing the error inherent in it.

        • 400daystil40

          March 30, 2012 at 10:48

          🙂 Maybe that is why I like your comments so much, I often agree with them!!! 😉

  34. John Jonelis

    March 31, 2012 at 01:26

    Define yourself as well-read. Here’s one for you: THE GAMEMAKER’S FATHER.

  35. J.C. Prime

    April 1, 2012 at 13:53

    I think I’m painfully late in coming across this… but your post resonates hugely with me, especially at the moment. Throughout my life, I have struggled with stereotypes, hoop-jumping and box-fitting, and while I understand the need for them at some points and in certain cases, I’ve never been that comfortable with them. I can lose my temper when I’m stereotyped by people… but that just gives me a chance to try and open their mind, so it ends up being fairly constructive anyway!

    It was very comforting and… validating (I think that covers it) to see stereotypes deconstructed in print. I had been planning my own deconstruction for some time, but it’s still a dissertation-length work in progress!

    So thanks to you for putting it so well – and also to all the commenters for their fantastic points (especially the gendery ones, which have saved me from having to say too much on that one)!

    Brilliant. That’s all that’s left to say.

    • 400daystil40

      April 2, 2012 at 05:18

      Thanks so much, and yes, I agree with you, the comments on this post were superb! I am so lucky to have these amazing readers!

  36. benbinbenben

    April 7, 2012 at 08:49

    i live the paradox of loathing bigots to the extent that maybe it makes me bigoted towards the bigoted, as changed the minds of the bigoted is difficult i find my self caught in a second trap.

    • 400daystil40

      April 8, 2012 at 05:25

      Very good point, I am the same way and have little tolerance for the intolerant (which, I guess, makes me an oxymoron).

      • benbinbenben

        April 8, 2012 at 12:05

        i’m over tolerance with me it’s accept it, or “get out of the pool!’


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