Signature, trademark, designation, copyright… These are all depictions of someone or something, which are special and unique, belonging to it and it only, where it serves as a sort of identity and intent. We have our own names, initials, character, nicknames and labels which have been given to us, distinguishing us from people around us, while others have their own for themselves. It is more or less like Lady Gaga – hands up a woman resembling a little bit of an alien look comes in to view every time her name is mentioned. Now THAT is her trademark.
A stereotype however differ in such a way that it is an assumption simply made by people who does not know something or somebody very well, and has been widely accepted to become a common knowledge.
Stereotype – a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with a special meaning and held in common by members of a group.
Having read Love in a Headscarf by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed, it is relatively easy do identify that other than sharing her account of finding a potential husband, she also addressed the stereotypes which the world have given to her as a women, and a practicing Muslim. The element of stereotyping is so rich and powerful in this novel that it had made me realize that there are so many things in the world that are so much different than what we think they are. Stereotyping is so prevalent and habitual in the world we live in today, to the extent that it had developed into customary beliefs which we all hold on to. However, if we pause and ponder on these accustomed labels that have been ringing in our ears for such a long time, we would understand most of them are just plain ridiculous and have to truth value or whatsoever in them.
A typical MUSLIM WOMAN – a mysterious veiled victim of male oppression awaiting Western liberation, an uneducated foreigner, a slogan-shouting terrorist.
This is one of the stereotypes that have been centered in the novel, which obviously is untrue and absurd. As pointed by Shelina in the novel, Muslim women have their own rights, be it in choosing Islam as a religion, engage activities which they are fond of, wearing the hijab or headscarf, get educated or most importantly in marriage.
A typical ASIAN – a nerdy, unexposed group of people who are only good at Maths, having weird cultures, illogical traditions and practices. Usually having an inapprehensible English slang.
Well, friends, waddaya think? Let’s just be thankful that at least there are people who acknowledges our intelligence and admires us for being so good in certain subjects. As for the other ‘qualities’ assigned, just shrug it off and put them at the back of our minds, shall we? We’re geniuses after all. ;)
A typical MAN – strong, but messy and unclean, irresponsible, insensitive, thickheaded, temper-driven, aggressive and brags about intimacy. Appears to have many interests, but it all comes down to women and football.
Come on, really?
A typical WOMAN – exactly the opposite of a man.
Now this is unfair. There are actually more stereotypes of a woman – not as smart as a man, obsessed with outward beauty, emotional, likes pink, thinks that they are right all the time and believes that the world revolves around them. Now girls, you do the evaluation.