"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Breaking and Confirming Stereotypes

I can't even remember how we got on the subject now.  All I know is that Samer and I were talking the other day, and the subject of Americans came up.  Maybe we were talking about stereotypes because the next thing I know, I'm jotting down notes as he lists ways I broke his stereotype of people from the United States, and things I confirmed about it.

Oh, I may have mentioned Malik's post about differences in US thoughts of dogs compared to Arab Muslims' thoughts of dogs. And also Amber's comment about her thinking Southern culture was in some ways similar to Arab culture.  I think we were talking about those topics as they tend to be some of my favorite.

Anyway, here is what I noted:


* I am emotional, therefore, not the "cold Westerner" type he sees in Germany.

* I have a love for foreign stuff. I easily warm up to foreigners and am open to other points of view.

* I am not stubborn - meaning I am OK with changing my mind about things if I see that I've been wrong

* I am not brainwashed by the media

*  I don't watch a lot of TV, movies, and am not overly-concerned with following celebrities.

* I am not hardheaded re: US patriotism and foreign policy


* I am easy-going

* I am friendly

* I like jokes

* I have an American accent

I would qualify most of these because I am not always easy-going or friendly, and sometimes I am very much stubborn. But I am thankful that Samer sees me in a good light most days.

(Good thing this topic didn't come up the day I was ranting about Patricia Roush's daughters being stolen by her Saudi ex-husband because I wasn't very nice about men, Arabs, Muslims, the idea that children belong to their fathers, or mixed-cultural relationships that day.  Thankfully Samer is forgiving ... )

Have you ever had a foreign friend who shared how you either confirmed or broke stereotypes he or she had of people from the United States (or where ever you are from)? What was on your list?  What things do you believe most foreigners have right about your people? Wrong? 


jaraad said...

I think more than any Americans I met you definitely like to know more about the Arab cultures.
I like to talk about my religion and explain anything about it as much as I can when I know the other person wants to know or have curiosity. But I don't do that when the other person is attacking my religion. In this case I don't care to explain. So you definitely are one who have curiosity about other cultures and religions and I like to answer your MANY questions :)

I describe America in one word: EXTREME.
In general, if you go to Jordan or Malaysia or Turkey you can some how generalize the people's culture, attitude and behavior. This is not the case for US even among its white people.

You can watch very conservative shows on TV like 700 club or the nice Texan preacher Joel Osteen and shows like Jerry Springer and others alike.

Americans are more conservative than any other industrial country (maybe except Italy but not sure) yet they have the biggest porn industry.

America has one of the best, nicest, and most intelligent TV host, Charlie Rose and also has the most repulsive TV guest I can ever imagine, Ann Coulter.

I have known racist professors whom every student knows they hate foreigners and also know the best professors ever.

My point is in America you find everything you can think or not think of :)

sanil said...

Thanks for sharing your lists! I've never really talked to anyone from another country about US stereotypes so I can't weigh in much, but I think it's interesting and enjoyed reading this.

Susanne said...

Malik, I absolutely enjoyed your comment! Soooo much. Yes, I think this is very true. I wonder if it's because we have freedom to believe how we want to believe unlike countries you mentioned (perhaps? maybe? not sure about their freedom or lack of it.) We have the freedom to be conservative and religious and at the same time enjoy porn and (most) every other vice censored in other parts of the world!

By the way, curiously, Samer mentioned just recently that he used to think nearly all Syrians thought alike. I recall in the past when he's say 98% of Syrians think like him compared to Americans who have a wide range of thoughts. Now that his country is in a mess, he has had second thoughts about how similar Syrians think. I thought that was an interesting observation by him. Maybe when people have the freedom to be different (in this case during a rebellion against the gov't), you see how different people truly can be.

Thanks for the great comment!

Sanil, thanks for reading and for leaving a comment!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Over the past 25 years we have had over a dozen Japanese and German students in our home for a short stay, except for one who stayed 18 months.

Some of them were surprised that we did not sit in front of the TV all day, or shop all the time, and so on.

The one that surprised me the most was one Japanese 19-year old. She had barely settled in when she asked to see our gun, and was shocked to find we didn't have one. According to her all the Japanese think we pack guns and use them. She was warned by many people at home not to go out after dark, ever, because she would be shot.

I realize there are some areas of our country where that may be true, but it is certainly not the norm. We dispelled that misconception quickly, and she enjoyed her 18 months with us.

Candice said...

That was really interesting! I think I helped break some stereotypes about "Americans" (even if I'm Canadian) that my husband's family had.

I made them see that not all people here sleep around and like to dress slutty and get drunk, that kind of thing. They also expected me to be more outgoing socially, maybe party-style, but I'm really not so I made them see we can be very calm, home-and-studies-focused people.

Susanne said...

Suzanne, I enjoy stories like you shared. How funny (?) that the Japanese student wanted to see your guns! I'm thankful you've been able to break down some of those stereotypes. Although I have nothing against the wise use of guns, we don't own any either so your student might be disappointed visiting my house as well. I think it would be exciting having a foreign visitor for a while. I'd love to see the US through his/her eyes! I've told my Syrian friend that I want him to come so I can see what takes his attention. Unfortunately, he cannot get a visa here.

Candice, I'm glad you helped the American stereotype! :) I wonder now if people think similarly about Canadians...hmmmm.

Samer and I have compared our views on a number of things, and have been pleasantly surprised how close we are in many aspects. For instance, I know many Christians drink alcohol and it is NOT totally condemned by the Bible, but my upbringing was such that alcohol was a big no-no. I still remember one of Samer's friends being incredibly shocked when he found out we didn't drink alcohol. He even posted on Facebook that he was proud of his evangelical American friend for not drinking! Haha!

Thanks for chiming in on this topic!