Huffington Post

Topics: Stereotype, Prejudice, Sexism Pages: 2 (644 words) Published: December 4, 2013
I will admit that I am rather new to the discussion on bigotry, privilege, and the various -isms. I was speaking with a female friend of mine a few months ago, and I remarked that women, on average, are less able to compartmentalize their emotions than men. She was (justifiably) irate, and I qualified myself.

You see, I had never been explicitly exposed to the socially-propagated idea that women are emotionally unstable. When I found out, I felt rather embarrassed in not only being sexist, but in being so trite and un-profound in doing so. I am simply an observer of humanity, and although some people might suggest that I have internalized institutional misogyny, herein lies the purpose of my short essay.

Imagine you're a mad scientist in a laboratory, and the U.S. government has charged you with the task of creating a perfectly average white man. You split white men down into their fundamental characteristics: hair color, body hair length, belly-button protrusion, etc, and then you take measurements and find the average of each of them. Because of the outliers, what will result will probably resemble Frankenstein's monster. This is an analogy I find useful when discussing prejudice.

The essence of the previous paragraph was that prejudice arises from two factors: perception of the average as informed by personal experience, and institutionalized power dynamics. These two are inextricably linked, and as one feeds the other, it is very difficult to isolate the effects. However, I will arbitrarily make the choice to begin by discussing perceptions of the average and see where that leads us.

My econometrics professor last term proposed that while girls on average tend to do just as well as boys on standardized math exams, the variance for boys is higher. This is not to say that there are not girls who are incredibly gifted in math, but that there are fewer of them. But naturally, our life experiences are such that we will not be acquainted with the whole...
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