Thank You Candace Parker For Communicating The Un-Stereotype

September 27th, 2012 | Categories: Gender

Today TCS wants to thank WNBA basketball player Candace Parker for communicating an unstereotype. The unstereotype, as I am coining it today, is a message about a group that is counter to the stereotype for that group. Because stereotypes help with information processing, the unstereotype actually makes information processing difficult because it counters your stereotypical assumptions.

The unstereotype shocks you, makes you take a second look, makes you momentarily confused, and bothers you though you don’t know why.

The unstereotype stands out as noticeable, whereas a stereotype is often overlooked because you are so accustomed to using it to process information.

The unstereotype pictured in the photograph above stood out so much that photographers took pictures of it and ESPN used a version of it in an advertisement in Parenting Magazine (October 2012). Why is this picture unstereotypical? Because it shows one of the most tender moments between a mother and her child while also simultaneously showing a strong, aggressive, and competitive woman. These two ideas seem, even as I am writing them, mutually exclusive. Yet, Candace Parker demonstrates they are not. The unstereotype pictured in the photo shows women can have stereotypically feminine traits and stereotypically masculine traits at the same time and still be valued and respected. The double bind be damned!

Ms. Parker was just living her life, showing affection to her daughter. She wasn’t mugging for the camera. She wasn’t photo bombing. She didn’t stage the whole scene. It was natural and perfectly unstereotypical!

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  1. ricketr2
    November 29th, 2012 at 00:48

    While reading this article about the unstereotype immediately I was brought back to the very first communication theory I learned in my Introduction to Communication course. This theory is the expectancy violations theory and this is exactly what the unstereotype is. The article describes it as something that one would not normally witness; it is something you would have to take a second look at. The picture of professional woman’s basketball player Candace Parker giving her daughter a kiss was unstereotypical for several reasons. For one this woman is a strong basketball player showing affection to her daughter and also because this was not just a show for publicity. This concept is much like the expectancy violations theory because this theory discusses why arousal occurs when expectations are not lived up to. Because a powerful basketball woman gives her young daughter a kiss before the game caused arousal from on lookers. One would not expect to see such behavior coming from a woman like her. Usually when one’s expectancies are violated it is perceived as a bad thing. In this instance, however, it is not. It is nice to see a competitive woman like herself show her loving side. To me it brings out the motherly and compassionate side to Ms. Parker.

  2. cmastrangelo
    November 29th, 2012 at 10:02

    Professional female basketball player Candace Parker caused a scene in a photo captured of her kissing her daughter. This portrayed a contradiction of stereotypes, as it showed a “masculine” female communicating a feminine action. However, this act of kissing her young daughter was not staged and was rather completely natural, so it made the scenario entirely believable. I really enjoyed the moment that was captured in this photo. It basically disproves the idea behind stereotypes, because it shows that you cannot just group a person into one category. Each person is individual, and maybe roles that they have overlap. Therefore, trying to make them one dimensional in a specific judgment is not going to work. Parker is taking on the role of an athlete here, who is generally seen as tough and defensive. Yet, she is showing affection to her young child, highlighting her femininity. Trying to stereotype her in one way would be impossible, because she is portraying multiple roles at the same time.

  3. Anastacia Kurylo
    December 5th, 2012 at 11:23

    I realized that my son is also an un-stereotype. Because he likes playing with dolls and wearing purple shirts it forces people to think when they see him. they can’t resort to the usual crutches to say is he a boy or is he a girl. Instead, they have to take a good hard look at him, what he says, how he acts, and even listen for his name or how people talk about him. Then they can make an educated guess about his gender. It’s actually kind of fun to watch. My mother commented recently that my son at 3 1/2, like me, is an educator!

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