Tag Archives: stereotypes

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Blog #4 Goffman and the Spoiled Identity

Blog #4 Goffman and the Spoiled Identity

Goffman defines Stigma as “.. a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity” The Greeks originated the word Stigma to signify and identify those who were criminals and slaves by bodily evidence such as cuts and burns. In today’s society Stigma is used in a a very different context. It is used to disgrace an individual or type of population based upon labeling and stereotyping. Using these labels and stigmatizing an individual or population spoils the identity of the individual causing a “spoiled identity”. It makes them feel lesser than normal, when that is not the case. When interaction occurs between a stigmatized (SI) individual and a “normal” individual there is anxiety and self consciousness that occurs.

A great example of a population that has acquired a spoiled identity seen in todays society are those who suffer from Mental Illness. Those who suffer from mental illness are often categorized and labeled as crazy. They are seen as different and as outsiders to the world around them.

To label and to stigmatize is unfair and not right. Those who do stigmatize sometimes don’t understand that they are doing so due to their social norms and how they were taught to perceive others. We must be open minded and become more careful not to judge others right away.

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Race and Violence

It was astounding to see the historian blame the London riots on the “black culture”. That goes to show that anything deviant that does not pertain to the roles mandated by the authorities and high class, ‘white’ society will be blame on the minorities of color. Now that I see why the riots occurred, it is baffling that it is even suggested riots being a consequence of ‘black/urban culture’. They are social issues, not racial ones. This is not limited to London, here in the United States it is extremely visible with how crime is portrayed in the media. White killers are always attached to some mental illness or temporary outrage, while any other race is immediately thought of as “evil” or “influenced by their culture” (poverty, stereotypical ‘urban culture’- for lack of a better term). In the Dominican Republic, Haitians born in the country are not granted citizenship- due to their darker skin tone (there’s a history of discrimination in the country because of racism), human rights organizations are outraged. The treatment of race in the media and the government only adds to the racial profiling of people in all aspects of society.

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(In this tweet by comedian Katt Williams, he clearly differentiates between the handling of crimes in America according to one’s race/ethnicity- stereotypes are powerful if given constant attention).

Post # 5- Stereotyping

In today’s society we are all stigmatized/ stereotyped one way or another, wether our stigmas are discredited or discreditable. A person can be stigmatized for being too chubby or too skinny, for the way they dress, or the way you look in general, but we do whatever it takes in order to meets society’s standards of “perfect” . For example people who are too skinny are seen as bulimic or anorexic, they are told that they have nothing and that they look like a stick, that they should eat a hamburger to gain weight,  without them having those problems, yet people are quick to judge instead of trying to find out if there is more to that like being naturally skinny or having hyperthyroidism (thyroids that make you skinny) and that no matter how much you eat you do not gain weight.  These people who are stereotyped as being to skinny try to overcome this by getting implants, by injecting hormones to look a little thicker, in order for people to stop making fun of them.

On the other hand there are those who are overweight who get called names, stop eating and become sick, in order to become skinny just to please society. These people also go to the extremes of liposuction or tummy tucks, without realizing that they can die in the operating table. They do this because is an easier way and faster than to diet and exercise even though its more expensive. Yes being a little heavy can cause health problems, but if you eat right and exercise then there shouldn’t be any issues with your health, it’s all about knowing how to control yourself. There are also those people who are made fun of because they do not know how to dress, or they buy inexpensive stuff in order to save money. They try to get what they can with what they have and pay bills. Some people in order to meet society’s standards tend to spend their rent money or their money for bills in a bag or shoes in order to fit in with the rest of the crowd. 

Media plays a big role in the stigmas because they only show these “perfect” bodies, people with the best shoes, clothes and bags, and we want to look like them and have the things that they have. For example girls who are on the heavier side they want to be like Victorias Secret models, and girls on the skinnier side want to look like these celebrities such as the ones we see in hollywood in these reality shows. Whether you are skinny or a little heavy, society will never be pleased. They will always have something to say and a fault to bring out, so what we need to do is just to be happy with the way we are, work on our self-steem so that when people come at us telling us that we are this or the other, we know better and not allow them to get to us. If we are happy with the way we are and how we look, we wont care about what anyone else thinks about us as long as we appreciate ourselves and care about ourselves. 

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Confronting Stereotypes