Why I Need to Outgrow Stereotypes

Why I Need to Outgrow Stereotypes November 18, 2023

I like to think that at this point in my life, I can accept my strengths and weaknesses, and know that I am OK as I am and that God loves the real me. Now and then, however, I find a crack in my self-perception that challenges me to do some reflection. My outing today reminded me that I still dislike fitting a stereotype. I need to outgrow stereotypes.

Another Patheos.com author has an interesting article about stereotypes.

Stereotypes About Women

I think that I am sensitive to stereotypes about women. “Women are too emotional (read, hormonal) to be in leadership positions.” “Women do not image Christ” The other day I read on Twitter,  “Girls should not be altar servers because it is a way for boys to think about being priests.” And a priest informed me

This article from the BBC discusses how raising boys and girls differently can reinforce the stereotypes about masculinity and feminity.

A woman with her car's hood up pours oil into it.
Plenty of women are comfortable around cars. I must recognize that it is OK to have gaps in knowledge. Courtesy of Arvin Latifi, pexels.com

The Scenario

I have been driving my mother’s 2003 Camry around town for a few months. My brother arrives tomorrow from California so he will drive the car while visiting all of us.

Two of the interior lights are out and one of the windshield wiper blades has shredded. I thought that I would go get replacements for these parts. I spent quite a bit of time looking through the car’s manual to figure out what type of bulb works in the various missing lights.

The Auto Parts Store

So, I go into the store with what I think are descriptions of light bulbs and windshield wipers. I spent some time trying to explain what a so-called “personal light” is in the car. The man is looking up the make and model to find these parts. I find out that the best way to match a new bulb is by taking the old bulb out and then matching it.

The man helping me has offered to put the blades on and take out the lights. The windshield wiper issue is straightforward, so I pay for those. I have trouble finding where I put my card to pay. That is the last straw: I feel stupid.

The Stereotype: A Flaky Woman Who is Clueless About Cars

I was a flaky woman who is clueless about cars. I almost said, “You know I am smart in other areas,” or something insane like that.  I go out to the car and try to figure out how one would access the lights. I am reading the manual. Then I think, “I don’t have the energy for this,” and I drive home.

Intelligence and Knowledge

I wonder if I had gone to the Apple Store at the Mall if I would have felt like I fell into a stereotype: a flaky woman who is clueless about computers. I do not think that there is a strong stereotype like that. I suggest that I am not the only one who dislikes operating in unfamiliar areas. I must remind myself that being ignorant about cars, fashion, or a certain type of music does not mean that I lack intelligence.

A car expert in a music store might feel dumb. A music store expert in a Nordstrom store might feel out of touch. It is OK to have major gaps in knowledge. It was the feeling that I was stupid, however, that stopped me from accepting help from the man who was likely just being nice.

I do not remember the last time that I felt painfully stupid. The experrrience obviously hit a nerve so I likely need to pay more attention to this.

I had a mini-crisis of my own making. The next time I go to the auto parts store or another place that features a gap in my knowledge, I should prepare: pray, be well-rested, and ready to swallow that inferior feeling I had. There are probably many women who go to that auto parts store and stun the employees with their in-depth knowledge of automobiles.

That is not me and it is OK that it is not. I just need to outgrow stereotypes.

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