Stereotypes, fraternal or sexual, are made only to be shattered

By Erica Fatland

You learn something new every day, or so the saying goes.

Over the past couple weeks, I have been exposed to many new places, activities and people. Through doing this, I really have turned over a new leaf. I’ve found that people really, REALLY aren’t who they seem to be all the time.

OK, so this sounds like just another useless topic by a know-it-all columnist. “Thanks, Dr. Obvious. I think I already knew that you can’t judge a book by its cover,” countless critics say.

But it goes further than the finding that the next door neighbor looks sweet and innocent but really likes to worship Satan on her days off.

Stereotypes are a normality. They always will be here. There’s no doubt about it. But the thing is they really don’t have to be.

I won’t deny the fact that I have made strong judgments against large groups because of a few chance incidents. But after I have been exposed to these new people, I have found that I’ve been missing out on a lot for a long time.

One of the startling discoveries: Frat boys, oops, I mean fraternity members, aren’t really so bad.

It’s a loaded statement, I know, but I am speaking the truth here.

My basic understanding of the fraternal system is that its members like to, for lack of a better saying, get drunk, crush beer cans against their craniums, and, well, you know.

But that’s just not the case. Many, I will never say all, of these people have goals, get good grades, want to make a future for themselves and even &gasp & remember what they did last Saturday night.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg for me.

And now the column changes in tone, a normal occurrence when I sit down to write. So if any readers are bored at this point, maybe the interest level will turn up if I switch to the topic of sex.

Ha ha, had you there for a minute. I’m speaking of sex as in what one marks on a FASFA application, not the other one. Sorry.

But I digress.

Stereotypes, when comparing males to females, have been around for generations, too. Numerous books have been written about the differences between the sexes, including my all-time favorite, John Gray’s “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus.”

I do give the man credit for pumping out 200-odd pages just on the relationships between couples, I do.

The problem? Men and women aren’t really that different, especially when it comes to relationships. At least in the 21st century they aren’t.

For example, according to certain books on chivalry and manners and such, it is customary for men to walk on the curb-side of the sidewalk so as to keep a date’s dress from succumbing to the dangers being splashed by cars flying through mud puddles.

Now how many men really know that rule? I would venture to say few or none.

I am not a “feminazi” by any means, but I think a woman knows that if it’s wet outside and a car is on its way down the street that, hmm, maybe she should move over. It’s that easy.

Then there’s the whole stereotypical money issue.

Supposedly, women aren’t supposed to spend a single red cent on their men. And if the guy doesn’t have any money, I guess you’re supposed to stay in for the night and watch reruns of “Starsky and Hutch.” Imagine if the poor guy was paying his way through school. Well, at least he would have the TV trivia section of “Jeopardy” down pat.

But seriously, it’s slightly neandertal to make a guy pay every single time. It’s downright silly if you ask me. If both of you are in college, especially. Money is tight all around when college comes into play.

All in all, stereotypes always will be around, it’s inevitable. But opening your eyes and forgetting the sayings of some English aristocrat of the 1600s helps alleviate those stereotypes. You miss out on a lot by merely looking on the surface of things and following someone else’s rules.