5 Stereotypes You Need to Stop Believing Right Now

Some might say stereotypes exist for a reason; that there’s some truth to them. Whether you believe this or not, there’s no denying most are associated with negative connotations. If you judge others based on nothing more than how society paints them, it’s time to take a long, hard look in the mirror. With every sweeping generalization you make, life is given to yet another stereotype. This is why it’s about time we stop perpetuating these widely-held views of others. Here are a handful of the ones you need to get out of your mind.

1. Men are career-oriented, and women are domestic

two women in the kitchen preparing a salad

Women can be domestic, professional, strong, and anything else they want to be. | iStock.com

Traditional gender roles have long existed, and they’ll probably continue to exist for years, decades, even centuries to come. Gender stereotypes clearly still exist in the workplace, regardless of how much progress we think we’ve made. If you’re still skeptical, take a look at mainstream media, where gender roles are most commonly perpetuated.

In fact, researchers have evaluated gender stereotypes as seen in advertising campaigns. One thing’s crystal clear: The majority of corporate America continues to give life to such stereotypes. Just take home cleaning product commercials, for example. How often do you see a man scrubbing the bathroom as opposed to a woman? Probably not too often. Similarly, consider ads for heavy machinery or tools, where men commonly play the role of construction workers. Luckily, times are changing. Now we just need society to catch up.

How gender stereotypes are manifested in the workplace

Peggy from Mad Men

Peggy from Mad Men managed to break into a position considered to be a man’s job. | AMC

According to NoBullying.com, gender stereotypes in the workplace often involve personality traits, domestic behaviors, occupation, and physical appearance. Take an example as obvious as Mad Men. Any woman who worked at the ad agency, at least in the earlier years, was a secretary. She was expected to dress a certain way, and act in a particular fashion. For instance, in the episode where JFK was shot, every female employee was seen crying, tissue in hand, only to be sent home by the strong-armed male employees. And while we’ve come leaps and bounds in some aspects, there’s still a long way to go, which brings us to our next point.

2. Women are the inferior sex

Woman trying to open a jar of pickles.

Oh my, this jar of pickles is too tight for any woman to open! | iStock.com/Central IT Alliance

Painting women as the inferior sex is a tired narrative. But sadly, it’s very much a reality in our culture today. Now more than ever, it’s important to stand up against this sexist viewpoint and take action. It’s hard to believe that there’s still a gender pay gap. Or that some women’s rights might signed away by those in positions of power. The idea women aren’t smart enough to make decisions for themselves, or that they don’t deserve equal pay, is highly offensive to any proponent of equal rights.

Who’s fighting back

woman doing push-ups in gym

Women are strong, powerful beings. | iStock.com

Thanks to Always’s girl-positive campaign, doing something “like a girl” has taken on a whole new meaning. In recent years, the company’s ads have challenged males and females of all ages to rethink their concept of what it means to run, throw, and play like a girl. Using the phrase is nothing more than an insult to an entire gender, and it needs to stop now.

Another example topping the list of our favorite companies is Under Armor. Who could forget the brand’s jaw-dropping spot featuring Misty Copeland? And it turns out the “I Will What I Want” campaign, which featured female powerhouses, proved successful for Under Armor’s sales, too. In fact, The Washington Post even thought it warranted coverage. The company took a chance, and the market responded positively.

3. People on welfare are lazy

house models on coins, mortgage rate trends

Just because someone’s in public housing, doesn’t mean they’re lazy. | iStock.com

This is a big one, as there tends to be a pretty significant stigma around the welfare system. Public housing, WIC (Women, Infant, and Children), even affordable health care all incite pretty passionate reactions. Some people love these types of programs, while others loathe them.

While no system is perfect, public assistance programs shouldn’t be a source of shame for people who need help getting back on their feet. It’s a sensitive subject, but one that deserves due diligence on the part of naysayers. Are there people who take advantage of the system? Of course, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t just as many, or more, folks who truly benefit.

Why it’s not true

Piggy bank on buoy floating

Government assistance may be a person’s last hope. | iStock.com/razihusin

It doesn’t take a genius to know what the cycle of poverty looks like. But beyond that, there are countless circumstances outsiders fail to consider when passing judgment. As Mashable points out, there are a lot of welfare myths that need debunking. Most people who receive government assistance aren’t lazy, rather they’re in need of some serious help.

For instance, it may appear a woman who collects welfare checks each month is getting nothing more than a free handout. But what you don’t know is that this single mother of three works two jobs, and government assistance was her last hope for survival after finally working up the courage to leave her abusive partner. And if that didn’t sway your opinion, maybe a more concrete example will. Don’t believe anyone deserves assistance? You probably didn’t know AmeriCorps members are eligible for food stamps during their year of service. They’re working, but have volunteered a year of their life to give back to a greater cause. We’d say that’s a pretty admirable move.

4. Gay stereotypes

man waving gay pride flag in front of courthouse

Everyone deserves equal rights. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Anyone who actually believes all gay men are flamboyant, and all lesbians are butch, needs a serious reality check. Not only is this kind of thinking incorrect, but it perpetuates hatred toward a large group of people. Believing such sweeping generalizations only breeds more hate, intolerance, and ignorance. So, it’s high time our culture gives this one a break. Of all the gay stereotypes out there, have you ever wondered how they came to be?

How one, in particular, came to be

Redwood forest campsite

Simply put, Subarus are great for anyone who loves the outdoors. | iStock.com

Let’s take one example that probably sounds familiar. Have you ever heard Subarus are cars for lesbians? Yeah, so have we, but the joke’s on anyone who believes this generalization to be true, at least in a negative sense. Aside from the fact Subaru actually makes great cars, it turns out the lesbian-loving-Subaru-theory was first planted by the company itself. According to The Atlantic, Subaru recognized a niche customer base of lesbians, and decided to capitalize on it back in the ’90s.

Touted as an adventure-mobile for those who loved the outdoors, Subaru’s campaign successfully claimed their share in the market as an alternative to larger trucks and SUVs that were previously considered the only well-equipped vehicles worthy of handling off-road terrain. Combine the carefully-concocted campaign with the company’s eagerness to provide domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couple employees, and we’d say Subaru is definitely a company worth supporting.

5. All immigrants are undocumented

muslim men pray in a mosque

Only ignorant people fear those from other cultures. | JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Here’s yet another stereotype that’s especially important to address, given our current political climate. Now, of course this point is totally false, but xenophobia — the fear of foreigners — is a real thing, and we need to talk about it.

One writer for The Chigaco Tribune discusses the very real threats facing our nation today. Examples include, “building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, destroying alliances, banning refugees, suggesting a fantasy that envisions an apocalyptic war between Muslims and Christians,” and this kind of language does nothing more than continue to breathe life into unfair prejudices that many immigrants have to work hard to reverse.

What you need to know

Immigrants getting U.S. citizenship

Immigrants can be undocumented or documented, but never illegal. | John Moore/Getty Images

First of all, you never actually know whether someone else is undocumented. Unless you’re meeting with a potential employer during the hiring process, most people don’t typically walk around with their birth certificate or visa on hand. But most importantly, it’s crucial you pay attention to the language you use when discussing immigrants.

How many times have you heard people say “illegal immigrants”? Well, this couldn’t be more inaccurate, never mind offensive. The fact is, a person cannot be illegal. While someone can commit an illegal act, an individual can only be undocumented. So, choose your words very carefully. For more information on the subject, check out Time’s take on the issue.