Is Stereotyping Useful?

As I sat in my car at the golf course waiting for my younger son to finish his lesson, I wondered what material to discuss in my next stupidity blog entry. Moments later, the answer drifted in through my open window. Two men, thirty years old or so, stood a row behind me, prepping their golf gear. This is the conversation I overheard:

Guy #1: (sounding annoyed) “I’m riding my bike up a hill and the cell phone rings. I don’t know why, but I answer it. I hear, ‘Hi babe! How’s it goin’?'”

(I wanted to yell out my window, “Who was it?” Instead, I assumed it’s his girlfriend/wife).

Guy #1: “So I tell her, I’m riding my bike up a hill. She says, ‘You do sound really out of breath. Anyway, I’m in…’ and she just continues babbling on! So I tell her I’ve gotta go, and I hear…dead silence.”

Guy #2: (chuckles like he’s half-listening).   

Guy #1: “So I say, don’t be upset. She says, ‘I’m not upset. I’m just trying to communicate with you.’ (He says this last part with great drama, then raises his voice in case people at neighboring golf courses can’t hear him). Can you believe it? Didn’t she realize I was busy? There’s not a woman out there who’s not like that. She doesn’t exist!”

I’d like to say that I got out of my car, marched over to the sap, and gave the tip of his nose an unforgettable pinch. That would confirm a few things for him about women. Instead, I stepped out of the car to get a better look at what could be a serial stereotyper. I saw a counterfeit human.

It’s not a man/woman thing. I actually have both male and female friends who, when I say I’ve got to get off the phone, continue on for another 8 1/2 minutes just to say, “I’ll talk to you soon.” Some people don’t understand the meaning of “gotta go.” This caller seemed to fall in that category. In fact, this whole failed conversation may have taken place between two stupers (short again, for stupid persons).

Let’s discuss stereotypes for a moment. Like cliches, stereotypes exist for a reason. Once in a great while, they may ring a bit true. But mostly, they’re self-serving; that is, they provide an opinion for a stuper who would be unable to reach an opinion without the aid of stereotyping. It also allows stupers to believe they have an intimate knowledge of a truth, however inaccurate that truth may be.

“There’s not a woman out there who’s not like that!” 

A bit extreme wouldn’t you agree? To lump all women or men in a single category is plain, old-fashioned stupidity. This guy demonstrated a lack of wisdom, shrewdness, sensitivity or deep thought. I did not once hear him say to the caller, “May I get back to you in a little while?” Wouldn’t that have been more direct and courteous? 

Okay, so he was in the midst of an uphill battle on his bike. He chose to answer the call. He chose to be irritated. He chose to complain. Yet he absurdly put the reason for his frustration on the female population of the world.

Is stereotyping useful? Only if you’re a stuper.

I still think I should have pinched him.



One Response to “Is Stereotyping Useful?”

  1. Jody says:

    You were right. All he had to do was to say I’ll call you back. Maybe that was too simple for him, or maybe the guy wanted a challenge. Biking uphill and answering the phone?

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