Quick update and the problem with stereotypes

Okay, I know I promised that I would write about the writer’s conference last week, but last week didn’t happen as I planned. So, while I will share details on the conference and the things I learned, I don’t have time to write an actual post.

Here’s a quote for you to ponder, though.

The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.Β –Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, quoted in The New Republic, found in This Week 2/12/16


10 thoughts on “Quick update and the problem with stereotypes

  1. Isn’t that interesting! I instantly thought about stereotypes about autism: the Rain Man stereotype, the “off in their own world” stereotype, the hand-flapping stereotype, the obsessive behaviours stereotype. Yet my kids, who are both on the autism spectrum, are so unique. My daughter flaps her hands; my son does not. My son has the obsessions; my daughter does not. Neither of them are “in their own world” AT ALL, although my son is the extravert and my daughter the confirmed introvert. These stereotypes may apply to some people with autism, but certainly not all of them; the reality is much richer and broader than that. So yes, I agree with Achidie on this.

    I note she says “the problem … is not that they are untrue.” I wonder if there are stereotypes that are 100% false, with no basis in reality, or if all stereotypes have at least some truth to them.


    1. Hmm, good question. As I don’t know every stereotype in the world, I can’t answer definitively (if anyone could). But I have a hunch that, no, they have some element of truth that can be applied to at least a fraction of the people, but that it only becomes a stereotype when we expand “some” to “all”. What are your thoughts?


  2. The problem with stereotypes is that most of us like to stereotype others in some way, and so in some sense marginalise them or dismiss them in some way, but none of us like to be stereotyped ourselves. That is a human problem, really. The worst kind of stereotypes demean and even diminish others to poverty or injustice.


    1. Sounds like humans have a double standard in that regard: judge others harshly but hate being judged. Regarding your last sentence, do you think there are any “good” stereotypes, the kind that could actually benefit the people being stereotyped, or is it all negative? I don’t have an answer at this point, but I’d love to hear your thoughts!


      1. Even positive stereotypes can be negative in the end. I think it is just because stereotypes reduce people to characters in ‘our’ story. And stereotypes run very deep. Class stereotypes, racial stereotypes, Christian stereotypes, British stereotypes, American stereotypes, French stereotypes, and so on. They tend to deteriorate, eventually. I can think of loads of negative American ones, yet when I have met Americans at university and in the continent, I found the majority decent people and more laid back and polite than most English people. True.


  3. I’m chomping at the bit to read about your conference experience!!!!!!!
    Just kidding. I’ll wait!!! πŸ˜‰

    Although I had an amazing time at the 2015 Catamaran conference, I need to cool it with the conferences until after my manuscript is safe & sound with the publisher. Then I can go to Disneyland, I mean writing conferences!


      1. I had hypomania from the last conference, which was my first one. It seemed like most of the attendees seemed kind of….um, how do I put this? Okay, I’ll be crass: they seemed high! There was plenty of alcohol at the evening meet & greets. :0

        I hope you’ve gotten a chance to rest up since then!

        p.s. I wanted to comment about the stereotype quote, but my brain feels like Elmer’s Glue. I can’t think of anything insightful to write. I’d like to hire you to write all the comments I post on others’ blogs, including this one! πŸ˜‰


      2. I had writer’s block after my first conference. I’m not surprised that most of the attendees seemed high, actually; I’ve never thought mixing alcohol with business and with creative (read: prone to strange behavior πŸ™‚ ) was a good idea. A lot of the writers I met were SF/fantasy writers, and I heard more about vampires and demons and interplanetary warfare than I thought possible!


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