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Double Standards

Ah the wonderful joy of stereotyping, it gives us the illusion of being justified in our judgemental opinions on others – safety in numbers I guess. It must be okay to say or think that way if others do – right?? it worked for the Nazis I guess so if you believe it – more power to you – judge on!

I on the other hand find people who engage in stereotypes a very funny breed. There seems to be an unwritten rule about who can be judged and what can be said, a double standard if you will . Up is fine, down is offensive. Go and read any Internet discussion board on weight, religion or money and you will see what I mean.

You will see comments like ‘skinny bitch’ or ‘twig’ or ‘anorexic’ when describing someone thinner than the poster and it is most often not a flattering post, commonly in contexts such as “This skinny bitch was sitting beside us…” or “This twig thought she was so cool” or “this anorexic chick was try to…”. Comments like this are common on discussion boards and if you are honest – common in every day life spoken by those who probably don’t even think of it. Ever been standing at the mall with a few girlfriends and had a tall slender woman walk by dressed to the nines??? How often would that happen and someone would NOT make a comment?  Something along the lines of “they are probably fake” or “who does she think she is trying to impress?”

Now flip that over. If you were on a discussion board talking about weight issues and you used derogatory comments like that to describe someone who was overweight – what would happen? Well I can tell you – you would get attacked by every poster on the board for being mean, offensive, judgemental and prejudiced against overweight people. You post may even get deleted or edited by a moderator as inflammatory. Say something about an overweight person on the street and you risk the same treatment, even most of your girlfriends wouldn’t support such a comment. Even in this blog I am using politically correct terminology such as overweight and obesity because so many take offense at the word ‘fat’ but have no problem with the word ‘skinny’.

What about religion? how often have you ever been spoken to by a person of religion – told what you were doing was a sin or that you should go to church? Ever been told that you would never get into heaven or worse that you could burn in hell? Only 33% of the world is Christian but even suggest that Christmas should be taken out of schools and there is public outcry demanding that the other 67% continue to be forced into a religious celebration for fear of being offensive. Take a look at religious protesters at any political rally discussing abortion, capital punishment or well anything and the posters and chants scream judgement and punishment for non believers and it is as common and as accepted a practice as any we have seen but…. flip that around. What if you were to tell a devout person that he was delusional and believed in a fairy tale? What if you were to protest against cults outside of a church on Sunday morning or to fight against Christmas? What would happen then – would your comments and protests be met with the same level of acceptance as those of the religious sect?

And then there is the topic of money. The best example of this can be found on any wedding or bridal discussion forum. Multiple posts are dedicated to money-saving tips and budget friendly advice. Sympathy and support are given to those who want what they can’t afford – you even see people fundraising and soliciting sponsorship for weddings and these people are all met with the same acceptance and support. Flip that around and mention any type of extravagance – talk about a big budget wedding or discuss the show ‘platinum weddings’ and the claws come out. Any idea you share that isn’t ‘cost saving’ is dismissed and ridiculed as a waste of money – called tacky or over the top and the poster is dismissed immediately as an AW (attention whore) and ridiculed and it doesn’t happen talking just about weddings. How many times have you had a discussion with a friend or family member and listened to them complain about expenses, about not having enough money… how often would you share that you were doing well financially and that you were looking to spurge? Would you downplay your success because you didn’t want to seem like you were bragging?? Why is it ok to comment about not having enough but not ok to talk about success why such a double standard? It isn’t about making someone feel bad, why can’t we celebrate the good for a change and share hope and promise instead of being forced to always commiserate?

the stereotypes of the wealthy are all around us – it is ok to comment and assume that someone with a lot of possessions is in debt, is morally bankrupt, is truly unhappy, married or was born into money… it is ok to dismiss and judge them publicly, it isn’t just accepted it is usually celebrated and people will more often than not join in on the judgement telling stories of people they know who fit the stereotype. BUT… flip it around and start making judgements about the poor. Comments about work ethic or priorities, addictions or laziness and see what happens then… I guarantee you that in most circles you won’t be joined in your judgement or heralded for speaking out – you will be scorned and ridiculed for your heartlessness and lack of compassion. you will be lectured on social issues and criticized for ‘thinking you are better than.”

So my question whenever I see this happen is why??? Why are we so insecure as a people that we feel the need to bring others down by minimizing the positive qualities they have? Why is ok to ”knock them off their high horse” but not okay to “kick them while they are down”? Personally I don’t think we should do either but if we engaged in one shouldn’t we be willing to allow the other? If we are going to judge shouldn’t we be judged? Up or down, stereotypes are just that – a judgement of an entire group. They aren’t always bad, they aren’t always good but considering how many groups we all belong to as individuals we should be very very wary of stereotyping anyone because there are so many ways that those very same stereotypes can be used against us.

Perhaps it is safer to just take each individual as just that – an individual. Every group has its good and its bad and unless we know an individual on their own, we don’t know which side of the line they would fall so why do we always assume the worst? Is it to make ourselves feel better – bringing them down to our level because it is easier than bringing ourselves up? Do we not pick on those beneath us because we already feel superior? Don’t we deserve to treat ourselves better than that? Don’t we deserve to have the confidence and security in our own choices, abilities and accomplishments that we can look at those above us and celebrate them for who they are and what they have the same way we feel compassion and encourage and support those beneath us?

I honestly believe that what we say about others speaks more to who we are than who they are. Next time you are standing at that mall and that girl walks by or someone drives by in a shiny new sports car, announces plans for an exotic vacation or speaks of their religious beliefs or lack there of – think about that. Think about what your reaction will say – not about them – but about you. You just might find that your opinions will change.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 13th, 2010 at 2:24 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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