To my horror, I once caught myself using the phrase “they Jewed me out of it.” I was shocked by my own words, and wondered how could someone who has always prided themselves for being fair and open-minded say something so overtly prejudiced and wrong-headed?
This thought connected to Jewish people being able to squeeze a dime out of a nickel goes back to the comments I heard as a young child about the Jewish family in our neighborhood. I believed I had moved past those stereotypes, but I realize now that prejudice is something we have to continue to be conscious of. The ideas you hear as a child are always trying to push their way back into your head.
I often ask myself now, what kind of stereotypes do we fight regarding gender and how do they affect our marriages? For example, a young boy might often hear that only girls cry, and they cry because they are weak. When that boy becomes a man, how will he see the strength that comes from vulnerability, and how will he be open to understanding those tears at a deeper level? If a girl is exposed to negative comments about men being emotionally clueless, how does she grow to respect men? How does she see the emotionally intelligent man in front of her? The problem with stereotypes is it puts people in a box and allows us to simplify whole groups of people, but we are much too complex for that approach. Stereotyping robs us of the opportunity to know the individual in front of us. While we may all be tempted to stereotype now and then, we must be aware that as individuals we are multi-faceted and cannot be put into a pot.