Outside The Box Of Stereotypes

Outside The Box Of Stereotypes

Why Is It That The Worst Things We Can Call A Man Are Woman And Gay?
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This semester, I am taking a class at my university for future educators designed to promote diversity and inclusion in the classroom. As future teachers, we want to make sure that all of our future students will feel comfortable and included in our classroom regardless of who they are. I have learned and experienced so much in this course, but right now I want to share about an activity that we did about gender and sexual identities under the guidance of the LGBTQ+ Support Services at the University of Dayton.

We started out by simply filling in the statement “Act like a _____.” For girls, we answered, “Act like a lady.” For boys, we answered, “Act like a man.” This raises the question of why is it not act like a lady AND act like a gentleman? Or act like a man AND act like a woman? While our answers may not seem significant, both of these statements carry their own connotations and images of what that might look like.

After completing the statements, we took this a step further by writing “Act like a _____” and box. The goal was to fill a box with characteristics we associated with “act like a man” and another with “act like a lady” to help us visualize the connotations these statements carry. While our descriptions for “act like a lady” suggested being dainty and emotional, our descriptions for “act like a man” suggested strength and power. We found that these descriptions relied on many stereotypes that would be impossible for a person to embody all of them at once.

So then what were characteristics of those that did not fit into the ‘box?' Our class chose to focus on those who did not fit into the box of “act like a man.” As we listed some of the common insults used for those who did not fit the ‘manly’ stereotype, we found that most were feminine and or related to sexual orientation. These included “too emotional,” “pussy,” “gay,” “queer,” etc. This list shows that we consider the worst things that we can call a man are a woman and not heterosexual. This is seen in the idea of “You throw like a girl.” What kind of message does this convey then to children? This shows that we value heterosexual boys more than girls and those of different sexual orientations.

Sadly, this seems to be deeply ingrained and normal in our culture. So what can we do to be better friends, coworkers, teachers, mentors, parents and family members? We can try to help get rid of the boxes. We can start by not rejecting or making fun of someone for not fitting into the ‘boxes’ or the stereotypes. We can also try to be more inclusive in the way we approach situations. For example, we can make our speech more inclusive by replacing “Hey guys” with “Hey folks” instead so that we are not leaving any gender out. We can also increase awareness to lessen the stigma and weight the words listed as insults above carry. We can speak of women and non-heterosexual individuals more positively.

Sometimes the little things we do will add up and have the ability to change the world, or at the very least hopefully the worlds of our future students. Hopefully one day we will be able to fill in those statements with just “Act like a human.”

Cover Image Credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/think-outside-of-the-box-6375/

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8 Struggles Of Being 21 And Looking 12

The struggle is real, my friends.
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“You'll appreciate it when you're older." Do you know how many times my mom has told me this? Too many to count. Every time I complain about looking young that is the response I get. I know she's right, I will love looking young when I'm in my 40s. However, looking young is a real struggle in your 20s. Here's what we have to deal with:

1. Everyone thinks your younger sister or brother is the older one.

True story: someone actually thought my younger sister was my mom once. I've really gotten used to this but it still sucks.

2. You ALWAYS get carded.

Every. Single. Time. Since I know I look young, I never even bothered with a fake ID my first couple of years of college because I knew it would never work. If I'm being completely honest, I was nervous when I turned 21 that the bartender would think my real driver's license was a fake.

3. People look at your driver's license for an awkward amount of time.

So no one has actually thought my real driver's license is fake but that doesn't stop them from doing a double take and giving me *that look.* The look that says, “Wow, you don't look that old." And sometimes people will just flat out say that. The best part is this doesn't just happen when you're purchasing alcohol. This has happened to me at the movie theater.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things People Who Look 12 Hate Hearing

4. People will give you *that look* when they see you drinking alcohol.

You just want to turn around and scream “I'M 21, IT'S LEGAL. STOP JUDGING ME."

5. People are shocked to find out you're in college.

If I had a dollar for every time someone had a shocked expression on their face after I told them I'm a junior in college I could pay off all of my student loan debt. It's funny because when random people ask me how school is going, I pretty much assume they think I'm in high school and the shocked look on their face when I start to talk about my college classes confirms I'm right.

6. For some reason wearing your hair in a ponytail makes you look younger.

I don't understand this one but it's true. Especially if I don't have any makeup on I could honestly pass for a child.

7. Meeting an actual 12-year-old who looks older than you.

We all know one. That random 12-year-old who looks extremely mature for her age and you get angry because life isn't fair.

8. Being handed a kids' menu.

This is my personal favorite. It happens more often than it should. The best part of this is it's your turn to give someone a look. The look that says, "You've got to be kidding me".

Looking young is a real struggle and I don't think everyone realizes it. However, with all the struggles that come with looking young, we still take advantage of it. Have you ever gone to a museum or event where if you're under a certain age you get in for a discounted price? Yeah? Well, that's when I bet you wish you were us. And kids' meals are way cheaper than regular meals so there have definitely been a couple times when I've kept that kids' menu.

So, all in all, it's not the worst thing in the world but it's definitely a struggle.

Cover Image Credit: Jenna Collins

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How Growing Up In A Culturally Diverse Environment Changed Me

We are all human.

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I can proudly say that I am from Montgomery County, Maryland, more specifically from the city of Gaithersburg. According to a 2018 study by WalletHub, three of the top 10 culturally diverse cities in the United States are located in Montgomery County. Those cities include Gaithersburg, Germantown, and Silver Spring.

I have lived in Montgomery County ever since the day I was born. Growing up in such a culturally and economically diverse area has educated me with the value of accepting differences. Since I was exposed to an assortment of cultures at such a young age, I hardly ever noticed differences among my peers and I. The everyday exposure to various cultures taught me to embrace diversity and look beyond appearances such as the color of someone's skin. I was able to open my eyes to other ideas, lifestyles, and backgrounds.

Ever since I was a child, I was not only taught to welcome different cultures and ethnic groups, but I was always surrounded by them. From my elementary to high school years, every classroom was filled with racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. Coming from someone apart of the Caucasian race, I was often the minority in school. Not everyone is as fortunate to experience such a multicultural society.

Since being from Montgomery County, I have grown up as a person with an open mind and strong values. Diversity has not only taught me to be more mindful but has also helped me become more of a respectful person. Learning about other cultures and backgrounds is essential to help societies strive, but experiencing it firsthand is something that no one can teach you.

After being in countless culturally diverse situations, I have been provided with many lifelong advantages. I was taught to be inclusive, fair, and understanding. I am able to be comfortable and accepting of all cultures and religions. After growing up in such a culturally diverse environment, I now develop culture shock when I'm not surrounded by diversity.

Our world is filled with numerous different kinds of cultures, ethnic groups, and religions. Being raised in a diverse environment has prepared me for what the real world looks like and taught me exactly what equality means. As I was growing up, I was always taught to be nonjudgemental of others and to embrace all individuals for who they are.

Diversity molds our identities. Every individual is unique, but each of us shares at least one trait — we are all human. Who would rather experience a homogeneous society, when they could constantly be learning about other cultures and building diverse relationships? When growing up, I never realized how impacted and truly thankful I would be to of had the opportunities to experience diversity each day. So here is a long overdue thank you to my parents for choosing to raise me in such an incredibly diverse place all of my life.

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