Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thursday Thirteen - Prejudice

I am greatly troubled by prejudice. Prejudice is a baseless and negative attitude toward any specific group. Baseless means there is no reason for the person to hold these negative thoughts toward whatever group they are targeting.

Unfortunately, our media today enforces prejudices on many levels. Prejudices also enforce stereotypes. While some stereotypes can be good (women are warm and loving, for example), most are not (teenagers are lazy and never do anything but play video games, for example).

I experience prejudice every day, and I know you do, as well. The problem is we don't often realize it is happening, because we're so used to it that we see it as normal. Some prejudices are easily acknowledged, and as a society we have attempted to eradicate them. Racism is a good example. While the U.S. Supreme Court may think racism is not relevant today, I think most of us know that it is indeed a terrible fact of day-to-day life.

My experiences have led me to try to be as non-judgmental as I possibly can and to try not to label groups. Still, I do it. When the media constantly beats things into your head it is hard to shake it off sometimes. We categorize unknowingly.

So here are a list of 13 common prejudices. There are many, many more, which is really quite sad. 

1. Gender/sex. In particular, I find many men are quite prejudiced against women. I experience this in the medical field more than anywhere else. Doctors automatically assume women have issues that are "all in your head." I can't tell you how many times a male doctor has dismissed my concerns.

2. People who are obese or too thin. I am overweight and I have found that most people underestimate my abilities greatly because of this. Most think I am not as smart as I am. I am not sure how being overweight equals less intelligence but that seems to be the case.

3. People who dress differently. I dress fairly normal but I have seen people shy away from those who prefer less conservative garb. I live in a conservative area and so people who have eccentric tastes tend to stand out significantly. I am always amazed at the reactions of people.

4. People who think differently (the media is really pushing the differences here between liberal/conservative thought, but generally speaking, when I sit down with someone who thinks differently than I, on many issues we are in agreement. But the media doesn't want to look at those; they are into divisiveness.)

5. People from different countries.

6. People who are handicapped or mentally ill. Lately I have been using a cane. For some people, it makes me more visible and they are polite and open doors. For others, it is as if I have vanished completely and there isn't a person standing there anymore. The cane symbolizes that something is wrong, and that means I am no longer acceptable.

7. People who are richer or poorer. Again, this is media-driven. The recent quotes from politicians who blame the poor for their own poverty are maddening. I firmly believe our system is set up to create a set of people who are poor, and economic forces are against them and are put in place to keep them on the lower rungs of economic stability.

8. People who have had a stroke of bad luck, such as losing a job or an injury. When I lost much of my freelance writing work in 2009, thanks to the recession, I felt like people started avoiding me. Obviously there was something wrong with me or I would still have my byline in the newspaper.

9. People who practice a different religion. Around here, it is common to ask people where they go to church. It's an ice-breaker question, and one I fail at because I do not attend a church at the moment. I was baptized as a Brethren, by the way. Sometimes I feel obligated to throw that in, even though it really is no one's business.

10. People who are elderly. Since I have gray hair now, and am aging, I am experiencing this more and more. Old people are invisible in our society. When I was young, I was taught to respect and honor the seniors among us. Apparently that is no longer the case (though of course I am generalizing, which is what I am preaching against in this blog entry).

11. People who are younger. I am probably guilty of this one. When did eight-year-olds start checking people out at the supermarket?

12. People who are a different race or color.

13. People who are smarter or less intelligent.

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here. I've been playing for a while and this is my 354th time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday.


  1. Yep,I'm with you. Being more accepting is something we all have to work on.

  2. this list is spot on and i am pretty sure i know who you are referring to in #11 lol...i thought the same thing, he drives too! :D

  3. I gave up on male doctors about twenty years ago because of the prejudice thing. I'm much happier with my female GP.

  4. Another well-written post, Anita. I think number five is particularly peeving me these days, especially with the recent "epidemic" of underage children crossing the border by the hundreds on a daily basis. These are children with no families or relatives who care fleeing war-torn Central American countries and the first thing narrow-minded people in this country say is, "send them back to Mexico" -- without thinking to what you might be condemning them (gangs, childhood prostitution, living on the streets). I think the UN is right in urging us to change our thinking from "illegal immigrant" to "refugee." Oops...sorry for the soap box. :-? My T13.

  5. When I was growing up, I was unacceptable in so many ways, the hardest being ethnicity- I wasn't 100 percent Anglo European. I appreciate that you have mentioned several of those ways of being prejudiced for scrutiny in your post, because such prejudice is very harmful. As for myself, such abuse continued into my adulthood because the family I married into had members who were bigoted, and also, because I'd chosen to be a Quaker and "didn't know the Bible". How very sad that all this will still happened.

  6. Next to my husband... you are the smartest person I know. And all of us are smart, but in different ways, regarding different subjects. I can be VERY prejudice against certain groups and readily admit it. It's not something I am proud of, but something I have not been able to correct.

  7. Human tendencies are quite complex and sad. The fat / thin thing is rife where I live. And the media! OMG....


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