Stereotypes are too common in society. Groups or niches use descriptions to distinguish themselves from others; however, stereotypes are given to a group by an outsider. More often stereotypes are made from a derogatory generalization because the outsiders are fully unaware of the processes of a group. Stereotypes evolve from jealousy, hatred, and ignorance; all very negative traits. And believing in a stereotype is evidence of close-minded thinking as well as a sense of prejudice.
Spiegelman was able to use the stereotype given to the Jews by the Germans as vermin as a metaphor for the different categories people, individuals, were forced into because of differences beyond their control.
My undergrad roommate is a part of a well known national sorority. The women of the sorority have a stigma of being prudes, junior yuppies, Stepford Wives in training and just over all boring according to the standards of college life. A common nickname to degrade these women is Cake Bakers. Mostly by rival sororities, this sorority has had this long standing stereotype because of the kind of women that decide to be apart of the sisterhood. Most of the women, excluding my roommate however, were nothing like the Cake Baker stereotype. They were very open-minded, had bigger plans than marrying rich out of college and could party with the rest of us Frostburg Bobcats. I got to know these women through my roommate, classes, and Greek life events (being apart of a sorority myself).
These women were smart. So smart in fact they decided to use the stereotype to their advantage. As advertisement for the sororities Fall Rush all the women wore t-shirts with giant cakes on them and written above the cake was the question “Want a piece?” This tactic was cleaver to me because not only did they make light of the stereotype they showed rivals that they were not afraid. They proudly sported those red t-shirts around campus for the better part of the semester. They showed others that they couldn’t be kept down by ignorance. The t-shirts were effective because it made people ask questions. I forced people to open up to them to find get the story behind the shirt. And with getting the story behind the shirt you received the story of the sisterhood.
When a group is stereotyped individuality is non-existent. The group is a collective and all actions and ideals are the same throughout. But we know that is untrue. We know that they majority of the time not all blonde women are ditzy or have low IQs. We know of an elderly person with an impeccable driving record yet when we are behind an elderly person in traffic we curse their very well being. This is because we don’t know them individually. We haven’t had the time to look into their face. Or hear their views on the world compared to our own. The Nazi’s hated the Jews because of their faces but only after their faces all became the same to them. That is what stereotyping does. It blinds the barriers and borders that make us separate in a common collection. Once the stereotypes are erased the lines of the face become more defined.