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Human beings usually form misconceptions and innuendoes about others when persons start believing in an opinion or idea about a particular individual or group, an idea or opinion that may be entirely untrue or just partially true representing an oversimplified opinion, attitude that is prejudiced, or a judgment that is uncritical just because it is being pinned on distinguished characteristics that are associated with that particular group. Humans are always different from others, an attribute that helps one to establish his or her individuality. But the existence of these differences gives others the reason to form biased opinions that generalize everyone in groups that they may have nothing to do with. This essay is going to look at four groups that have been victims of stereotypes. These are the politicians, tattooed people, feminists, and senior citizens.
People found in these groups have been portrayed negatively and as such, they struggle in life to try and break the many stereotypes that have been used to label them. For many years, politicians have been thought of as being self-serving hypocritical, con artists, and dishonest. During campaigns, they try to out do each other with political advertisements to the extent that no matter who wins, the public has already been conditioned to the negative advertisements. People see feminists as being man-hating, people who will not settle for second place status but those who want same rights as men. Senior sets have always been taken to be forgetful, hard of hearing, and bad drivers. Those who decorate their bodies with tattoos are generally taken to be rebels, criminals, gangsters, and also sadists. All these are stereotypes because they are simply thoughts or images of groups that are based on little or no evidence at all.
These negative perceptions of stereotypes usually come into the society in a very innocent way. They center on how the general public look at a group as a whole. Perhaps one individual, for instance, a politician, used negative rhetoric on his opponent; this worked and therefore became an obvious tactic that many other politicians employed, and before all politicians were generalized into one pool. This is also true to the existing misconceptions about feminists. It started as a liberation movement but now holds all feminists captive to that initial frame of mind. Negative perceptions are also brought into the society through the media. If a wanted criminal is seen in the media having tattoos, then all tattooed people become criminals. Similarly a newscast linking elderly persons to accidents automatically associates the whole group to that opinion (McDole, 2010).
The choice of words that are used to describe a group or an individual poses a big burden for how the general public sees a particular group as a whole. The phrases or words used to slant statements in positive or negative ways are called rhetorical devices. One such phrase is what is called a weaseler. These are usually used to cushion someone's argument from the opposition so that it becomes almost impossible for one to argue the claim. If these words are not used carefully, they can cause an opposite effect to what was intended. They can put a negative effect to a positive comment without any negative utterances. Such words include phrases such as; the majority of, has been popularly believed, for many, and many others. People use them to demystify the common stereotypical beliefs, but they can have an opposite effect. It is natural for many humans to absorb and remember negatives. People tend to pick out negatives more than positives; therefore a negative of a stereotype will stick in the listeners' mind than the positives. They are these negatives that influence evaluations strongly when compared to the positives (Green, 2009).
On many occasions people have told me that am diplomatic, this can be a derogatory or complimentary statement, it all depends on how one defines the term. This simply means that I am in a position to look at issues from more than one point of view. But this also enables me to be cautious when dealing with arguments especially in my writings. I hate stepping onto the toes of others and this has shown me to be leaving myself an "out" in my persuasive papers. Because I now know that this can just be a weaseler rhetoric that might just harm my writing credibility. I therefore take great care to critically look at an issue from both sides, using reliable sources to back up any argument and also support the opposition. I carefully chose words that I use in making my conclusions, words like; the public in general, is a common belief and most people, because I now know that all these can easily become weaselers if not well supported. What I have learned is very important especially when am dealing with groups that come with stereotypes. If I have to make a statement indicating that a particular group shares a trait or quality, I know that I have to back it up with a source that is credible to avoid downplaying my own arguments, ruining my credibility, and squashing any chance of making a difference. I now know without doubt that if I use back up statements, I will be able to prevent my use of weaselers to pad the rhetoric of my arguments. I will therefore be forced to delve deeper into the particular topic so that I can gain a greater understanding of those involved (Fisher, 2001).