Wednesday, 3 February 2016
We're all very different, she said, and very few people actually conform to the tired old stereotypes we love to fling around so recklessly.
She was right of course and now I'm careful not to generalise but always to qualify anything I say about a specific group of people. And preferably not to make any general statement at all but stick to those individuals I know personally.
I used to be scathing about men, thinking only of those men who hate women and treat them appallingly. I would forget all those decent, considerate men who treat women with respect and are horrified by the rapists and misogynists.
I used to be over-polite about women, assuming they were always kind and caring, when as we all know women can be just as bitchy and competitive and aggressive as men when it suits them.
And so on and so on.
After all, I don't like it when people generalise about me. I resent the tedious stereotypes about public sector workers, vegetarians, socialists, home-owners, non-parents and thin people.
I may be a public sector worker, but I don't have a fat salary. I don't have a pension (let alone a fat one), I don't hand people 40 page application forms, and I don't go on sick leave every other day. I do my job for a fairly meagre salary and I haven't gone off sick since I started the job over five years ago. So as far as I'm concerned, you can screw up the stereotype and chuck it in the rubbish bin.
So, yeah, I'm super-sensitive to sweeping statements now, I can sniff them a mile off and I studiously avoid them. Please feel free to alert me if you see me thoughtlessly uttering one. I didn't mean to, honest. It was the mouse's fault.