We all have them. I know I do and I hate catching myself judging a person or place by their typical stereotype. I think of Texas and I see cactus and tumbleweeds. I think Dallas and I see big hair and lots of make up. Living in northern New England, I see the stereotype of New Englanders in action.
Sarcasm, fast-talking, aloof, educated…etc. And to some degree those are true. But beyond the stereotype are really nice people full of compassion. No, we don’t wear our emotions on our sleeves or chat up every single person we run into, like Southerners do. (Stereotype.) I swear I went into McDonald’s in the South and the girl behind the counter took five minutes to list the salad dressings.
But these stereotypes reach into fiction too.
I cringe when I read books where the churchgoers or the cheerleaders or the jocks are branded by the actions of just a few people, and I’m on the receiving end of that stereotype. These stereotypes usually create a villain where there isn’t one in real life.
These stereotypes appeared in ancient history too.
Medieval Europe was considered the center of the world. That was the happening place to be. Even though the commoners lived with their animals, and streams of sewage ran through their homes and in the streets and they rarely showered.
But over in Central America…who were these native people running around in nothing but loincloths? They must be backwards, not very smart, and just brutal to tear out the hearts of their sacrifices.
Come to find out they charted the stars, made room in their calendars for leap year, knew to shower daily and keep clean and kept recorded histories of their people. They built awesome temples without cranes or beasts of burden. While people were dropping like flies from the bubonic plague over in Europe, the natives on this other continent were thriving.
I find this completely ironic and amusing. Facts like this only made researching the Maya that much more fascinating.
Of course, now I need to cleanse myself of the stereotypes I have of medieval Europe. J
In How To Survive Ancient Spells and Crazy Kings, I worked hard to build a believable world of the Ancient Maya, weaving in their culture and their way of life through the eyes of a girl on an adventure to rescue her grandfather.
What’s the stereotype of where you live and how is it wrong? Or right?