Are Stereotypes Accurate? Part Two

June 4th, 2013 | Categories: Uncategorized

The answer to whether or not stereotypes are accurate is simple. After all, if stereotypes weren’t accurate why would so many social and health initiatives be based on them? For a minute consider that not only are stereotypes accurate, but they are so accurate that they are used as the basis to provide benefits for individuals and groups precisely because of their accuracy. Let me give you some examples.

Example #1: The stereotypes that blacks and minorities work menial jobs has been treated as an accurate descriptor of blacks. The presumption that this stereotype is accurate has been part of the argument to give blacks and other minorities a ‘hand up’ through initiatives like affirmative action. Indeed, affirmative action provides blacks and other minorities opportunities they would not otherwise have had because, according to the stereotype, they only work menial jobs.

Example #2: The stereotypes that all Mexicans are illegal immigrants has led to reform, especially on the southern border of the United States, through laws to provide undocumented immigrants improved quality of life through legal protections for their health and social well being.

Example #3: The stereotype that the elderly are helpless has led to social reform in terms of health care benefits for the elderly. For example, although complicating the process from some perspectives, former President Bush’s drug benefit reform was considered by some to be a great advancement in an elderly person’s quality of life.

Example #4: Stereotypes of the poor as lazy has led to welfare reform implemented in order to provide help to the poor who, as the stereotype would predict, are unable to make economic advancements on their own.

Example #5: Stereotypes of men as naturally insatiable sexual animals has led to the reimbursements of costs of Viagra and Cialas as allowable expenses for insurance coverage. Through this insurance benefit, males stereotypically victim to their sexual needs are able to improve their psychological and physical well being.

Because stereotypes are presumed to be accurate, legitimate social and health related reforms are implemented to help those stereotyped populations. How else could these reforms, offering legitimate aid, be determined?

Consider for a moment some entirely unrealistic alternate categories we could use to distribute social reform that would not be based on stereotypes:

–We could base racial disparity reform on personal history rather than race (e.g., blacks whose ancestors can be traced to slavery deserving affirmative action more than others),
–We could base immigrant reform on the number of dependents who would benefit from the reform rather than on the immigrant status of an individual (e.g., immigrants regardless of country of origin who have financial dependents)
–We could base elder care reform on the specific health situation of an elderly person rather than on age (e.g., elderly who have Alzheimer’s, elderly who are physically disabled in a way that requires nursing care)
–We could base poverty related reform on physical location rather than on income level (e.g., consider Newark, NJ, Compton, LA, Bedford Stuyvesant, NY, Detroit, IL )
–We could base sexual health benefit reform based on individual needs rather than gender (e.g., women, transgendered, intersexed).

Clearly these options simply wouldn’t make sense. Relying on stereotypes is the obvious solution because after all: blacks are in menial jobs, right? Mexicans are illegal right? elderly need assistance, right? poor people need welfare right? men are naturally required to have sex constantly, right? Don’t these stereotypes provide legitimate reasons for social and health reform?

I’m sure there are some of you who might disagree with me about my discussion in this post about why stereotypes are accurate. So, please, let me know why in the comments. Also, stay tuned for Part Three to be published next Tuesday where I will continue to discuss stereotype accuracy. To see part one of this series, visit the original post.

Be Sociable, Share!
You must be logged in to post a comment.