On Stereotypes

Once I said to a friend that I’d like to adopt some of the superficial, stereotypical traits of, say, a lesbian – the cropped hair and flannel shirts – so as to more dramatically prove people’s assumptions wrong when they wholly incorrectly labelled me as gay.

He said to me, bemused, ‘You want to act like something you’re not, and then get angry when people think you’re the thing you’re pretending to be?’

I couldn’t figure out why his summary of it seemed so different to my idea, but I realised it later.

‘No,’ I would have said emphatically, indignantly. ‘I never said I’d act like I was gay, and that’s the whole point. People are the sum of their actions, and yet they would have judged me from the inconsequential markers they’ve decided prove my identity, and ignored my actions completely. But you can dress someone in a thousand different costumes and it will still be the things they do that determine who they are.’

Of course, I’m far too attached to my long locks to chop them off to make a point. But it’s the principle of the matter.

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