PREJUDICES AND STEREOTYPES
This is a space created for and dedicated to personal stories that are addressing prejudice. You can submit your anonymous stories to our email address firstname.lastname@example.org. The space is not limited to stories of migration, because each –ism (sexism, racism etc.) is interconnected and feeds of each other and thus creates a self-supporting tenacious knot. Describing a personal story could be helpful in untying this knot.
The main theme of the project is to expose, define, explore and understand prejudices and stereotypes. To briefly introduce the meaning behind these words we use the definitions by renowned psychologists and scholars, who were particularly studying these social and behavioral phenomena.
Prejudice is defined by Allport, the American psychologist and the father of personality psychology, as reluctant and hostile attitude towards a person belonging to a particular group only because s/he belong to that group and therefore it is assumed that s/he have the undesirable attributes ascribed to this group. Allport further simplified it into the following description: „To think about others badly without proper justification.“
Predictability or opinion rigidity, characterized by emotionally charged and critically un-judged judgment, and consequently resulting attitude of a individual or a group. It can refer to anything, it is formed on the basis of a given religious belief or ideological conviction, it does not depend on the immediate situation and does not defend the understanding.
Stereotype is, according the scholar and pedagogue Jan Prucha, defined as an idea of a social class of individual, groups or objects that are essentially pattern ways of perseverance and assessment of what they apply to. They are not the products of the direct experience of the individual; they are taken over and kept up with tradition.
Lastly Allport describes a positive or negative stereotype as a too strong a conviction associated with a certain category. Its function is to justify our behavior and attitude towards this category. It works both as a tool to provide justification for our categorical acceptance or rejection of a group, as a sorting or selection tool to simplify our perception and reasoning.
You, … from a divorced family.
My parents got divorced when I was six. I never felt different and it did not bother me. I was always surprised when I read statistics about the doom that a divorce brings. I have my own kids. I was shocked when a teenage girl, the daughter of my best friend, told me that she feels terrible about her parent´s divorce. I asked why. She told me because she her friends used to look down at kids from divorced families. I was shocked; I did not know that my classmates were judgmental this way. It makes me wonder about what we can do for our own children to be more open to different social backgrounds other than our own.
Recently, I’ve been called by distant acquaintance – more or less jokingly – „socka“ what in lose translation represent the meaning of „trash“. By the same token, in the same week I got into the verbal conflict with the man, who remembered me as a child. When I did not engage in the conversation with him the way he imagined I should, he immediately associated this with the arrogance of superiority and did not stay shy and pointed out my „low class“ upbringing by saying „you act like you are better then us, but you should not forget how you grew up“. Despite the fact that I truly do not think much of the intelligence and empathy of these men, I realized that their words stuck in my mind and left a bitter feeling. It brought the memories how inferior I felt in the eyes of others during my whole childhood. Such feelings make it very hard to build self-confidence. It has been very long since I felt ashamed of the fact that I come from socially weak family. Rather the opposite; I am very proud of my mother today, how she managed such difficult situations of raising four children alone, how she managed it all with only basic education, and with no support of others, including my father and the close family. I am not a girl with poor dress, lice, and bad language anymore. I, just like my mother, have also managed to live my life in dignity; work hard on my self, gained university education and managed to secure more comfortable life for my son and me. It is true that there are some negative habits I continue carry with me; such as disrespect towards myself. I have tried to work out my „demons“ connected to my rather difficult childhood, but even two years of psychotherapy did not resolve it. And I am also full of prejudice towards others and towards my self equally, but am trying to recognize, deal, and eliminate those, because I think if others or you your self can look at you as a „trash“ it is very difficult not to be it.
I’m Roma person. I have met and continue to meet with very strong prejudice that the Roma people are uneducated. This prejudice, of course, affects me negatively. Nevertheless, I managed to find the positive aspect of this prejudice towards my community and me and I have worked hard to prove this prejudice to be irrelevant and unfit and that Roma people do have equal capacities, when opportunities are presented. I finished my secondary education with diploma and I have started to work as a social worker. Today as a professional I am able to help people, including those with similar prejudice about Roma people.
My prejudice / Prejudice agaisnt me
I have prejudice against alcoholism. Yes, I now people love to drink, have fun, I also do. But when they do it every day and do not act normally, they are aggressive, I hate that! And I have a personal experience. My family had to live with an alcoholic. My father. He did not care about anything. He did not work, did not cook, he was aggressive and we actually really hated him for them. But then after few years he changed. He sobered! And he became a careful father. We really feel he loves us and care about us! And we know that all that years he needed to be supported be us and sometimes he was not. Because we had prejudice. We thought that it will not change and that he does not care about anything. But the alcoholism was stronger and tried to destroy him. So my opinion is that we should not show backs to the people who suffer and need help and support in such a hard times as they are addicted to alcohol. It is a normal illness. So after this, I changed my prejudice against alcoholism even i fit was hard for me. And I am not saying that every alcoholic is a good person but I thing we should try firstly to understand to them and judge them.
My personal prejudice
My biggest prejudice is against gypsies. Definitely, I am not a racist! But, I must say, that my personal experience is-when some gypsy come to the bus, for example, I naturally put my bag. And why? It is because it is being said over and over again (especially in media), that gypsies steal from other people. My own opinion is that is also because we know only “dark side” of gypsies. I know, that I tis not only my prejudice. It is prejudice of those people who do not say loudly. I must break this prejudice of my mind, because it is not a rule, that every gypsy is bad. I believe, that it will be different in the past.
Statement of my judgment
I’m the one who knows what to do in every case, because I know everything.
I want everyone to care about be me, but I don’t give a shit about them and their life. I know I’m better than anyone else.
I want everyone to love me, but if I love someone is always conditional, people have to deserve my love.
I judge women with bright red painted nails for unexplainable reasons.
I blame universe for natural disaster.
I hate God to let young people and children get sick and die.
I judge myself that I’m not good enough because my father said so 40 years ago.
I judge almost all Slovaks and put them into the racist box. Only because very few of them made racist comments about Gypsies, Hungarians, Arabs and whoever they can think of.
I judge all guys with no hair, big chest and muscular body to be less intelligent and I’m sure they are criminals.
I judge young and middle age guys with beard to be boring as they are hiding behind the mask to be trendy and cool.
I judge people in the bus or train that they listen to what I say and judge me for that. So, I’m faster and judge them first.
When I see prototype of independent woman I feel insecure and judge myself that I’m not good enough.
I don’t trust men it suits and ties. I judge them as untrusty and liars.
I judge all Americans as fat, stupid, war-lovers, McDonald-only eaters, not educated, native Indians killers – simply not worthy beings.
I judge myself and feel guilty when I masturbate.
I hate babies because I can’t relate to them.
I judge Australians because they are too white.
And I can go on and on and on….
I make judgments in every moment of my life. It is program which runs in my subconscious mind. Whenever and wherever I feel some kind of threat or insecurity or just simple dislike it triggers me and my natural reaction is to judge it and to see any possible danger. And if the thing I see is no danger but only simple something I don’t like, my reaction to it is the same as to possible threat. I’m trying to justify my worthiness through judgments which blocks my real feelings.
But end of the day, my level of happiness and trust towards world depends on how much I identify with all these judgments and how much I’m able to detach from them.
As part of the migration workshop and introductory of immigrant population in Eastern and Central Europe I realized, or rather I better understood, that the prejudices towards different groups of people were raised from various kind of fears. The fear – one of five basic emotions – is transformed into the concern about one’s own identity and security, which we traditionally take over via education and the influence of surrounding environment predetermines us to reject new, unknown, or non-intrusive influences.
I live in a relatively small South Bohemian village that has long sought for the status of a town. When such aspiration was realized in the mid-1990s, the inhabitants were proud of their achievement. In 1997 I got married and moved from Prague to the “town” with the idea of quiet, healthier life in an idyllic environment for my own family. I came up with the views, the values, the moral attitude and habits that were formed in large progressive and cultural city. I carried stereotypical attitudes and behavioral patterns from the city – such as spontaneous communication, openness, and tolerance. Not even for a moment I denied that I should act differently from what I was used to. For example my behavior towards men should have had change – I had had both female and male friends and it never occurred to me that to be friends with a man could be problematic.
I was used to going out with friends to the cinema, for a dinner, anywhere for social life, without a partner and I never thought of it as a problem. Tolerance and a degree of autonomy towards my partner, was natural to me and I expected the same in return.
In a short time, however, I understood that not only to speak with “strange” men, but also to go out with a group of people that these men are part of, is an unacceptable norm in the small town. And eventually going anywhere, if it is not a doctor, a market, post office or to work is socially unacceptable. Over the time, I had the impression that there was no difference between a woman from South Bohemian countryside and a Southeast Asian Muslim woman.
I often wonder, who creates this norms and prejudice that women – especially married women – should not share common social activities with men, who are not family members unless their partners are there. I think that women do it themselves. They are worried about the comfort of their sons, who could lose the absolute dedication of their life partners, and that would also reduce the comfort of their wives’ wishes to provide for husbands’ comfortable living.
This is also related to the idea of what a woman has to take care of, or is responsible for, in a “traditional” marriage. She does not have time for cultural events, sports, or other activities to meet her personal needs. Men only take the model of marriage or partnership in which they grew up. And why not – it’s convenient and comfortable for them.
I am currently living in a partnership, where we share the same level of household management, child upbringing, financial coverage, and family matters. We both have time for each other, for our children, friends, our hobbies, and our jobs.
We have interrupted the stereotype of the traditional concept of marriage; I think at least the concept of marriage among the older generation in the Czech countryside. However, I still meet women of my generation only at the post office, at the doctor, or supermarket. And when I go with my friends for a drink and the dinner or cultural event I never meet them – unless they are with their families.