Let’s Learn From Stereotypes! 由刻板印象學習雅量

I held an event about stereotypes on Peace Boat which got me into trouble, but I will talk about that in more detail later. Here I would just like to recap the event and share our ideas with a wider group of audience online. Let’s have a look how we can develop cultural acceptance from stereotype!

Our panelists are 我們的講者有:

  1. ♀from Japan, studied in Germany and worked in Korea
  2. ♀from Japan , studied in Hawaii and Australia, worked in various development projects in Asia, now living in Bangladesh
  3. ♀from Taiwan, went to American church, studied in Belgium and Japan, currently living in Spain 
  4. ♀African-American from The US, working in Japan 
  5. ♀from China, studied Japan and France, living in Japan but going for working holiday in Canada 
  6. ♂from The Netherlands, studied in Japan now living in Japan 
  7. ♂from Australia, working for Peace Boat in Japan and has been traveling the world for years 

Definition of Stereotype 什麼是刻板印象?

They are considered to be a group concept, held by one social group about another. A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. It’s the practice of grouping people with similar traits together. They are often used in a negative or prejudicial sense.

有什麼用呢?What for?

Generalization helps us make sense of the complex world.
以偏概全 普遍化幫助我們理解這個複雜的世界。

Rather than imposing certain stereotype onto others, let’s ask about their personal opinions.

By understanding more, we can live among different cultures with more ease.

Standard of beauty evolves over time

What’s Beauty?
什麼是美? 什麼膚色?什麼樣的身形才美?
Afraid of getting dark vs. sun bathing 怕晒黑 vs. 享受陽光
Whitening product vs. tanning product 美白/小麥肌護膚產品 (中文:一白遮三醜)
Macho man vs. pretty boy 肌肉男/美男子

Cubby Lady Yang from Tang dynasty, “schoon” = clean = pretty in Dutch
You can see from those western classical paintings, pale white skinned and chubby were considered as beautiful as they were people with high status. They had pale skin because they didn’t have to work outside in the sun and had enough food. But now people want to be fit!
(Asia is like that today? 1-2 generation behind after industrialization
Prince charming/ heroes rescuing girls to man supporting power ladies, such as “Frozen”

Conclusion: You are beautiful in your time and with your own definition!

Gender Stereotype 性別刻板印象

□ Girls play with dolls and boys play with robots

In fact, the kids play whatever you give them.

□ Men provide income for the family while women stay home with kids

There are many working couples hiring house cleaning service. Is this outdated?

□ Westerners believe Asian women to be gentle and obedient

是因為西貢小姐這電影嗎? Is it from the film/ musical “Miss Saigon”?

□ Guys should pay for girls on a date

If we let the men pay, it’s like we’re not independent. I don’t like that. There’s one man simply does it because he was taught to do so. Another guy said, it should be like going out with your good friend and you wouldn’t want to take advantage of your friend, right?

Region stereotype

Africans can play sport and sing well

African decedent might think it’s unfair towards them. They also work hard for things and should not be seen as “animal-like”.

Latin people dance well

There are some that can’t dance, trust me. But it’s true that dancing is part of social life since childhood.

Asians are good at studying

比較book smart, not street smart,很多是一直逼小孩唸書的結果,成長成沒均衡發展的書呆子?!

French are romantic

有嗎?在哪? Really? 是說和德國人比起來比較不拘禁,是真的。而且巴黎髒…
Compared to their German neighbors, they are more free, yes! And Paris is not a clean city…

Japanese are polite and punctual

But they often talk ill behind your back, the peace might very likely be pretentious!

Chinese and Dutch are cheap/ frugal

真的務實呀!Practical! If they can bike they won’t take cars but it’s also because the fuel is more expensive, same for the public transport! Someone would bike to Belgium border and take a train from there as it’s cheaper.

Culture stereotype

People with tattoo are related to gangster

In Japan, you can’t enter hot springs if you have tattoo. 在日本有刺青不能去泡湯
But it’s also for self-expression 但很多人只是用它來表現自我

European men are gentlemen

Where are those guys? Tell me where I can find them! At times, some men think they should let women do things on their own or it’s not gender equality.

Westerners enjoy the present, no money saved

But do you know most Belgians will save to have a house of their own?
但你知道大部份的比利時人都有自己的房子嗎? There’s an expression “having bricks in the stomach”

Key Takeaways 總結

From a diverse group of panel speakers, we demonstrated that each individual can have different voices in the world.

Stereotypes can be neutral and it is just one way to look at things.

Remember, you can make your own definition too!


Europeans enjoy longer meal time and have shorter working hours
歐洲人喜歡享受悠長的用餐時間,一天工時不長 (簡單說,歐洲感覺就是悠閒,不是嗎?)

Spanish take naps (siesta) doesn’t mean they’re lazy because the total working hours are the same or sometimes even more. It doesn’t only exist in Spain, part of Italy too because it’s just too hot that your body kind of shutdown and the usual length of naps is only 20 minutes.
西班牙人午睡,並不是因為他們懶惰 ,工時被切成二段後並沒有比較短,有時還比8小時多。而且這個習慣也不是只有在西班牙,在義大利一些區域也常見,因為天氣熱,身體受不了,自然需要休息,通常午睡只有20分鐘。

English drinks afternoon tea 英國人愛喝下午茶, but English friends claim it’s more for the weekend only. (Besides 比利時荷蘭在下午四點左右也常有這習慣 Belgium and Holland also have afternoon tea around 4pm)

Slow service in Europe? In Belgium, a meal could take up to 4-5 hours for a celebration, wedding party= whole day and night through. While Taiwanese wedding party would usually involved the whole morning for a traditional ceremony followed by a big meal with guests in the restaurant, it would take 1-2 hours only just for food and exchange gifts.

Being slow sometimes means respect! As the cafe/ restaurant want to give you enough time and space to enjoy without giving you pressure to pay. So this is not necessarily a bad thing but definitely different from the efficiency people are used to in Asia.

The more north you go in Europe, less choice of food you will find. It’s because local produces are limited. So it’s common people don’t eat much vegetable and fruit because it was not consumed back in the old days and they don’t feel they have to change their diet either. It’s common to just eat the same sandwich everyday in Northern and Western Europe. There’re differences in vegetable and fruit consumption between northern and southern Japanese. You can also compare Korea and Japan with southern parts in Asia. Personally, I am from Taiwan and I couldn’t stand eating only pickled vegetables every meal and you hardly see vegetables when you eat out in Japan!

There are different ankles to everything; it all depends on your perspective.

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