Everybody’s bitching about stereotypes these days, and with good cause. There are plenty of them out there.

Frat boys funnel beer and have unprotected drunken sex.

Sorority sisters are air-headed bimbos.

Football players are stupid.

Gay guys have limp wrists.

Lesbians wear flannel.

Computer science majors like Internet porn.

Stereotypes have always existed and probably always will. And what I learned in sociology class years ago is that most stereotypes exist because there is a grain of truth in most of them. And what’s wrong with that?

I’ll tell you what’s wrong with that. Stereotypes can be used for evil purposes when they are used to make broad generalizations about large groups of people. How unfair is it to assume that everyone belonging to a similar category in our population has the same exact traits?

Most stereotypes are accompanied by a stigma that can damage the reputation of an individual, solely based on his or her membership in a social category. And not only that, it implies that everyone outside of that social group does not engage in the kind of behavior that the stereotype indicates. And that is not fair.

I think that it is outrageous that only fraternity and sorority members can be party animals. I’ve been partying tough for my whole college career and nobody ever says, “whoa, that Free Press staff is a bunch of drunks.” And I’m pissed. I’m just looking for credit where credit is due.

Fraternities on the USM campuses have been forced to down play the partying in their houses, nationally, by the organizations that they belong to, and by the University itself, and its not because they are the only ones that are doing it. Lots of people party, but somehow only the higher profiles of Greek organizations are targeted. What about my parties? Doesn’t anyone care that I’ve thrown a couple great ragers in my day? Why hasn’t USM tried to shut me down for getting a bunch of people loaded once in a while?

You see, not everybody hates stereotypes. Stereotypes can also give people a feeling of belonging in the group that they are associated with. Why do you think gang members all wear white tank tops and matching headbands? Many find comfort in being easily identified with their peers.

For as many people who credit television shows like Will and Grace for breaking gay and lesbian stereotypes, I know just as many homosexual men who resent the “it’s ok to be gay if you act straight,” phenomenon, because it takes away from their sense of culture and community.

What I’m trying to say is that stereotypes are not always negative to everyone and that some people embrace them. There are always exceptions and I’m sure that a few fraternity members love the fact that people think they are wild and crazy. The only crime in stereotyping is to believe that everybody thinks the same way.

The world is a very diverse place and every stereotype has a different meaning to each individual. Don’t forget that just because a person fits into a certain stereotype, that’s not a bad thing.


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