Monday, August 20, 2012

Embracing Stereotypes

In this age of embracing diversity and political correctness, we have become cautious about pointing out the things that make us different. The fact is we are different. Instead of ignoring our differences, I think we should embrace them. However, there is a fine line between embracing them and making assumptions based on someone’s ethnicity. I love the word ethnicity. I was once asked to define it, and I said, “Ethnicity is what makes us ethnic.” Brillian, huh?

Also, we may deny we are prejudiced, but let’s face it, all of us have some level of prejudice, especially about people we have never met or cultures we have never encountered. Or, we make assumptions about people based on their behavior. Or, we just believe every stereotype we have heard about a particular group.

How many of you find yourself stuck behind someone going forty miles an hour in the fast lane and think, “Oh God, it must be an Asian woman driving that car.” Then you pass the car, and it is an Asian woman. Then, you think to yourself, “Oh God, I’m a bigot!” You aren’t a bigot. You’ve been conditioned to believe Asians are bad drivers, and try as much as you want, you cannot get that out of your head because many of them are. The ones that aren’t, don’t have a driver’s license.

Before I go on. If you don't understand humor, you will not enjoy this. If you are easily offended, please continue reading!

Here are some stereotypes about people, you may or may not believe:

All people who drive BMWs are assholes. Actually, some are just pretentious queens. I once saw one BMW crash into another BMW in a parking lot. I called it poetic justice.

All shoplifters are black women. Nope. Almost ninety percent are white people. Do you know why? All the floor walkers are following the black women around the store while the white people steal all the merchandise. I have picked up some really good five-finger bargains this way. I apologize to all the black people who have been shadowed in a store while I stuffed scarfs and earrings into my briefs.

All Jewish women are nymphomaniacs. Only the single ones. Do you know how to stop a Jewish woman from having sex? Marry her.

All gay men have great taste, designer wardrobes and live in tony neighborhoods. Have we met?

All Hispanic women wear tight low-cut jeans with bare midriff tops and show some serious muffin tops. Only in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood in Washington, DC.

The only way an Arab can win an argument is to blow himself up. Have you ever met anyone from the Middle East with a sense of humor? No. That is why there are so many problems. They never smile or laugh. Arabic and Hebrew, when spoken properly, always sound like arguing. I think they should all switch to French.

All black men have large penises. While many do, there are many who don’t. Believe me. I have done my research. I once dated a guy who was one-quarter American Indian, one-quarter Hispanic, and one-half black. He had the smallest penis I ever saw. I guess everything cancelled itself else out. I wonder if he got used to all the looks of disappointment?

All French men have large penises. I wouldn’t know. I couldn’t get past the body odor.

All Jewish men have beautiful penises. This one is true. Take my word for it. It is all in the cut.

Now, how many of you find yourselves believing the above? Especially the Jewish husbands out there? Does that make you a bigot? Only if you say any of them out loud. I wonder how many people in a mixed marriage have scars on their tongues?

There are a few assumptions I have encountered over the years for being Gay and Jewish, which I have illuminated more times than I care to admit in this blog. Many years ago, some guy at the gym was talking about how he entered a bar, and he knew immediately it was a gay bar because all the guys were wearing pointy shoes. Pointy shoes? I guess the guy getting a blow job in the bathroom wasn't his first clue.

However, moving to a trailer park – excuse me – mobile home community, has really brought out the prejudice in a lot of people I know.

I don’t know how many times I have heard, “Well, consider where you live.”

My favorites are the ones with the surprised looks on their faces when they enter my home and they don’t see mismatched furniture – you know the couch and love seat that clearly came from a different set. I hate that. Nothing looks tackier to me than a living room with an unmatched couch and loveseat. A friend of mine’s sister lives in a pink house with an unmatched sofa and loveseat in her living room. Everything in her goddam house is pink, and she couldn’t find a matching sofa and love seat? The Barbie Dream House it ain't.

Sometimes, they are disappointed because I don’t have a refrigerator on my deck … or an old Rambler on blocks out back (actually, it’s under a tarp).

While I have made it my mission to dispel all the trailer park stereotypes, there is one group I cannot help. Rednecks.

This past weekend, I drove out to West Virginia to see a friend and have dinner. I know you are already thinking about West Virginians. When I was in high school, I had a friend who was from West Virginia. She said that whenever she told people where she was from, they looked to see if she was wearing shoes. She graduated number two in our class.

All of us have heard the West Virginia jokes.

Why don’t they teach sex education and driver’s education on the same day? It is too hard on the mule.

Did you hear about the West Virginian who married a virgin? He took her back to her family and said, “If you don’t want her, I don’t want her.”

What has five teeth and an IQ of seventy-three? A PTA meeting at a West Virginia high school.

So, there I was driving through West Virginia in my pick-up truck, so who am I to judge?

Before I go on. My brother is convinced that Deliverance was filmed in West Virginia. He also is always glad when I return home from the great state of West Virginia alive. “You be careful out there. There are some crazy ass mother fuckers in that state.” He doesn’t exactly say that, but he thinks it.

Deliverance was shot in the Tallulah Gorge, southeast of Clayton, Georgia, and on the Chattoogah River, which divides Georgia from South Carolina. As I said, I do my research.

After dinner, my friend drove me around the great city of Inwood, West Virginia, to see the sites, which consisted of trailer parks and just trailers on land (they have a lot of trailers and mobile homes there), the occasional Sheetz gas station, a male strip club – with male strippers (closed for renovation, unfortunately), Dollar Generals, Dollar Trees, and Dollar Stores, and one really nice mobile home community, which as it turns out was managed by the same company that manages mine. The entire time, my assumptions about West Virginia were in high gear.

We decided to get ice cream, since I am always watching my weight and careful about my diet. As we pulled up to this cute retro ice cream stand that looked like something right out of the 1950s, I noticed a vintage car, if you can call it that, parked two spaces down. It was a 1967 Corvair 500 (the base model; my family owned a red 1965). The car was blue, had mismatched wheels, one hubcap, and the interior was … how shall I put it … less than perfect. This wasn’t a daily driver; it was a relic. Two guys were sitting in it waiting for their pizza to be ready to take home, and I asked if I could take a picture of their car to send to my brother. One of the guys actually called it the redneck VW. 

The guy in the passenger seat said with a smile that had maybe three teeth at the most, “Sure, let me hold up my beer, so you get a picture of that, too.” He was embracing his own stereotype and quite proud to be a West Virginia redneck. I respected that.

I took the picture, then said to my friend, who by the way was raised in West Virginia and still lives on the land where he was raised, “Oh my God, you cannot make this stuff up. He should be the poster child for West Virginia rednecks.”

He agreed and laughed.

Am I a bigot? No because I like rednecks! And let’s face it; they are proud and make life so much more interesting.

Are you embracing your diversity in your community? Are you a redneck? Follow me, join me, or just buy my damn book!

1 comment:

  1. The only major issue I have with rednecks (and I grew up near at least a few) was the notion of treating ignorance as a virtue. You don't need a college degree to celebrate knowledge, whether it's learning a trade, or just learning a little something about the world you didn't know before.

    Of course, in parts of the blogosphere (not here, clearly) Americans of all stripes are now convinced that even the most ill-informed opinion becomes fact because it's posted online.

    On the perils of stereotyping, I must quote the ground-breaking philosophers that made up the kick ass female group En Vogue:

    "I wear tight clothing,
    High heel shoes,
    That doesn't mean that I'm a prostitute."

    Deliciously low-brow. But it doesn't have to be Faust to make a point and pack a punch. And Lord could they strut.