Posts Tagged ‘Stereotypes’

Stereotyping has existed for a long time, and a lot of the generalizing that occurs today has its origin in historical events like wars or colonialism. Such events often spark insulting and trivializing images of the other and a use of propaganda which promote feelings of hate (Khorana, 2014), and these images, or stereotypes are very hard to get rid of. In old Western movies it was the Mexicans and/or the Native Americans that were depicted as villains and savages and in modern Hollywood we are introduced to Arab and Muslim terrorists (Khorana, 2014). As the media contributes to these stereotypes they communicate a negative and false representation of other cultures.

Interestingly though, after the war on terror, propaganda has become less effective and the acts of warfare has become more transparent in the media and therefore it has become increasingly important to communicate ‘positive’ representations of our enemies so that we appear as ‘good-doers’ in the midst of our wars (Alsultany, 2013).

Evelyn Alsultany (2013) therefore talks about a new type of race representation in the US after 9/11 which blends negative and positive traits of an ethnic group; she calls it “simplified complex representations“. It challenges traditional stereotypes but also justifies discrimination by contributing to a multicultural ‘illusion’. For example; TV-shows and films have incorporated patriotic Arab or Muslim Americans into their plots who assist the Government in fighting terrorism to counteract stereotyping, in TV-dramas they are often victimized to create empathy, sometimes we are led to believe that they are the leading terrorists but later it is revealed that it was someone else (‘flipping the enemy’), and in news media we are often first given a disclaimer (“these are not Islamic practices”) before we are told about the brutality of Islam.

Alsultany (2013) argues that such representation “do the ideological work of justifying discriminatory policies” because simultaneously as the Arab or Muslim American is e.g. victimized, the storyline often also express that it is unavoidable due to the national security crisis, and in the news media diversity and complexity is loosely mentioned but the majority of evidence supports the negative outlooks of the ethnic group.


Khorana, S 2014, ‘Race and Representation’, lecture, , BCM310, University of Wollongong, 05 May.

Alsultany, E 2013, ‘Arabs and Muslims in the Media after 9/11: Representational Strategies for a “Postrace” Era’, Project Muse, vol. 65, no. 1


I come from a country where equality has an important place in society. Class, sex, gender, age or race; it is important that we are all treated alike in Norway. It has not always been this way, and we must be grateful and pay respect to the ones that have fought for these rights in past times. Despite the fact that it is important, it is sometimes hard to balance such issues in politics. Many would suggest that we are not being just to immigrants or that we are not successful in treating the elderly well, but when it comes to equality for women we have come a long way. Or have we not?

Young women today take an equal pay, or a right to work or vote for granted. If a girl were to be denied employment on the grounds of her gender or if she was sexually harassed at work it would reach the media in no time and the organization would be named and shamed for their actions. In recent years there has been an unfortunate ‘wave’ of rape in some of the big cities and therefore we now have parades to spread awareness of the issue and several campaigns arranged to follow girls safely home at night. It looks like it is going the right way, but an article by Clementine Ford gave me second thoughts.

Ford (2013) brings about the point that perhaps the media and even the public do not care as much about justice for ‘the others’ as we do about justice for ourselves. In Norway, for example, we proudly show our statistics that demonstrates that both women and men occupy leader-positions, that we are free to decide who stays home with the kids and that women are encouraged to take a place in man-dominated work forces, but at the same time we have a huge amount of sex-workers that are beaten and raped daily, and we have affiliations with trafficking where innocent girls are forced into prostitution. Many of these women may not be Norwegian citizens but it takes place in our country.

So why is it that we do not fight for these women’s’ rights? Why is there no parade for them? I cannot help but think that if most of our prostitutes were Norwegian or if women were being trafficked from Norway the whole nation would be joining a parade. I believe Ford (2013) to be right that because these women are different, or not ‘like us’ they do not get the same coverage in the media and are therefore also being marginalized.

Feminism therefore still has an important place in our countries, but perhaps we should try to open up our focus to include all women, and not only the white, middle-class women ‘like us¨.


Ford, C 2013, ‘How did we let Adrian Bayley happen?’, Daily Life, 14 June, viewed 30 April 2014,