Whether we are aware of it or not, we judge others and through this process, categorize individuals based on our anticipations and later, formulate expectations of what type of person they ought be. If this individual were to display characteristics that do not fit the grouping we had put him or her under, this individual is deemed “tainted” and, as a result, has lost our respect and acknowledgement. Goffman explains that these “tainted” individuals are, to us, stigmas — people who are different, bad and dangerous.
In the early 1900’s, society viewed working mothers as stigmas. The expectations for women at the time was to stay home, clean, cook and take care of the children; it was the husband’s duty to go out and work. If a woman did work, she wasn’t expected to be working because it was her “duty” but more because working made her attractive and smart. However, a working mother was unheard of.
Today, mothers who work (just like their counterparts) are a common occurrence. No one is surprised when someone says that both their parents work. This is an example of how stigmas can change over time. What was stigmatized in the 1900’s has now normalized in today’s society. Conversely, one could even argue that the unemployed, stay-at-home mothers have become our new stigmas.