Most things in life are ordinary but we do a good job complicating them. (It is probably the only job we are willing to do without getting paid.) On the other hand things that are quite complex we tend to take lightly. Shall we call it the human way!
The origin of the word “stereotype” is apparently from Greek. (I am sorry, but the Etymologist in me was awoken.) Interestingly enough, this term have been used mainly in printing. But the word has taken on a new meaning today. The only printing it represent now, for many anyways, perhaps is what has been imprinted in theirs minds.
In a children’s nursery rhyme that was published in the 1800’s we see another typical stereotype that made it all the way to the 1980’s or perhaps even the 90’s. You know the one:
What are little boys made of? Frogs and snails and puppy-dogs’ tails, That’s what little boys are made of. What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice,That’s what little girls are made of.
This children’s rhyme reveals the Gender/Age stereotype that existed in the 1800’s, and every boy had to learn it by heart. (How cruel can you be!) People believed that every boy was mischievous and no good, while girls where the favourites. This belief was almost universal. In the 80’s, while growing up in the northern Namibia, this stereotype of boys was alive and kicking and perpetuated by almost every grown up. They also claimed that boys were no good and that they would not turn out to be useful members of the community. And that, boys would only become “Botsotsos” (meaning criminals, mostly in Namibia and South Africa). But at least they didn’t teach us to rhyme it. Such views can almost become self-fulfilling prophecies. For one, because these boys could have given up on themselves and think that they have no choice because they are doomed to this one bad destiny.
Wow! Just imagine that, gender determines how you turn out. Really!!? That’s deep!
That was the stereotype of the 80’s and past centuries.
Fast forward to the 21 century, and you find the reversed stereotype, same as in the past but now targeting the girls. They are now also believed to be no good, that they will only become loose women by the time they hit their teenage years, if not bearing several children out-of-wedlock by then.
To keep entertaining such stereotypes is nothing less than a disaster. To me it is an indication that, we, the adults, have given up and we see no way of addressing what ever issues are there in the lives of girls that lead to this stereotype; and to give up on the girls is to give up on mothers of tomorrow.
We don’t need to guess what the outcome will be, the result is almost predictable. Their confidence will leave a lot to be desired, their willingness to take responsibility will be lacking. While this is not a study but simply an opinion post, the conclusion cannot be far off.
Other image sources: Photobucket.com