Q: What are some misconceptions that you had of Asians that changed since you moved to an Asian country?

I want you to do something for me. I want you to reach into the deep crevice of your mind and think of all the stereotypes that you were introduced to as a kid, teen, young adult or whenever, and think about how it may have affected the way you viewed a certain person or race.

Really think about it now. Were you ever subconsciously influenced by these stereotypes? How has it affected the way you choose your friends or romantic interests?

For some random reason, I was doing this same exercise the other day around misconceptions I’ve had about Asians before moving here and full disclosure, I was quite surprised at the results. I never thought I was above stereotyping, but I definitely didn’t see myself as one to be affected by them. I try to let people define themselves instead of generalizing them, but I’m only human and sometimes I fail. No lie, I got psyched out by this “examination”, and started calling some friends to make sure that they didn’t feel stereotyped by me in any way.

Thank God the one person I was able to reach didn’t. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Anyway, I thought it would be fun today for us to dig into my psyche and see what actually floats around in my subconscious.

WARNING:

You are getting into a dangerous territory delving into the crevices of my mind, and if you continue to read pass this warning, I can only take it to mean that you have willingly subjected yourself to accepting whatever uncomfortable information you may find out about me (or not, it’s up to you whether you accept me for meπŸ˜‰). I’m human and I have a weird thinking process, but understand that this is how I thought as a child, and as I grow I am seeking to open my mind and understanding of others by interacting with them and getting to know them individually. This does not reflect my current impressions of Asians now.

You have been forewarned. Tread with care. 😊

1…

2…

3!

Well, there’s no turning back now.

As a kid, I didn’t grow up around a lot of Asians, so a lot of my knowledge of Asians came from stereotypes. Nothing too outlandish, just the general: Asians are smart, musically gifted, great at video games, etc.

So what kind of stereotypes influenced me when I had my first exposure to Asians in high school?

Stereotype #1 – Asians are smart.

When I first heard this stereotype (I’m talking way back when I was in elementary/middle school) I thought Asians were on a different level of intelligence. Like, there was smart, and then there was Asian smart. I thought there was a gene in the Asians that allowed them to be intellectually superior to other races. Like why else would they make a big deal about someone being smart? (I know, stupid, but I warned you that we were going into dangerous territory.) Small admission- my preference for asian men, that started in high school till about my first year in college, may have been slightly affected by this fact (what can I say, I was into nerdy men).πŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆ OMG, so shameful. But thankfully, somehow I managed to move past this and now I’m into more passionate and driven guys from any race (nerdy, geeky guys still have a shot though). πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Okay, moving on. Now, I’m mature and realize how hard Asian people work towards their education. Maybe the stereotype came from the value placed on education the culture and maybe the tiger moms that developed from it. It had nothing to do with a gene. πŸ™„

Wow, that was more embarrassing to admit than I thought it would be. πŸ˜‚πŸ™ˆ

Stereotype #2: Asians are cliquish.

I heard this stereotype more frequently when I was preparing for my move to Korea and I think it was a stereotype that was more specific to East Asians (Koreans, Japanese, Chinese), but nonetheless it was something I heard as a teen too . When I first heard this in high school, I thought, “Whatever, some of my close friends are Asians and they aren’t cliquish,” but after taking a step back I can see where the stereotype came from. I guess because of the collectivistic nature of Asians, it’s a bit more understandable as to why they gravitate easily to one another. It’s apart of their culture for them to take care and look out for one another as a group, so it probably comes second nature to them. I’ve never tried it in America, but here, when I approach them, they don’t push me away. (Well, not to my face anyway). Besides,in general, it’s easier for people to hang out with others who understand them and have similar backgrounds. After all, birds of a feather, flock together.

However, as a kid, it did make me feel as if I needed to be extra proactive in interacting with Asians, which placed a lot of stress on me whenever I wanted to be friends with someone. I think I actively avoided talking to some when they were in large groups. It’s was kind of intimidating to me. πŸ™ƒ So I was kind of worried about it before I moved here. I came to realize much later that it wasn’t as bad as I had feared it to be.

There are more, but I think that’s enough probing into my mind for right now.

Stereotypes, man. A grossly oversimplification of someone or a culture. (I’m sure this is not the actual definition of the word but whatever. πŸ’πŸΎβ€β™€οΈ)

Anyway, I just wanted to end this post by saying stereotypes are POWERFUL. Stereotypes places people in a box so that other people can “understand” and interact with them in a way that they may deem feasible.

I don’t think stereotypes are all bad. It allows us to break ice, give context to, and approach something that may initially seem daunting, however, that being said, I don’t think stereotypes should replace fact or individuals. While there is some truth to them, they should never be used to judge an individual. In my case, I may have been influenced by stereotypes in the initial process of getting to know and understanding Asians and their culture, but I tried to NEVER let it define the people I met. I have tried to be mindful of how much my perspective is being shaped by stereotypes so that I won’t be in danger of never allowing myself to truly understand and appreciate someone who is different from me.

Maybe in another post I will talk about specific Korean stereotypes that I heard before moving here, and how it affected my outlook on life here.

Anyhoo, that’s all for now.

Until next time,

See ya around, friend~~

Posted by:ThatKoreanLife

2 replies on “#14 – Stereotypes

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