Friday, September 16, 2005

Shaving prejudice

Today's Friday. I think I'm going to shave, both my head and my beard. Another inch and I'm a candidate for Santa Claus of the Year. That regards my beard, not my head hair, which is about an inch long. It looks silly, having the hair standing straight out like some some kind of halo. My fringe moved to the top of my skull at the ripe age of 30 and is soon to meet up with the bald spot that emerged a couple of years ago. Shaving it all of looks a lot better.

And I look a lot younger too, according to the very nice women working at my local store. My wife likes my shaved head, but at the same time she envys me, since people think that she's the older one of the two of us. That's a good reason to shave.

Now, I know there are people who think white guys look like giant penises with their heads shaved. That's another good reason to do it... ;o)

Yesterday, RazorTongue asked me if she could interview me for a school project about prejudicm. I said okey since I like to explore myself. She asked me to sit comfortably, close my eyes and describe what I saw when she mentioned different people. No one is free from prejudice so I thought it would be a good experiment.

She started out by asking me what a typical swedish male looked like?
I immediately saw the swedish actor Rolf Lassgård. He's sort of a mix between the big, softspoken guy from the northern part of Sweden and the not so nice, all-around tough guy. If you're only going to see one swedish movie in your life, let it bee "The Hunters", swedish title "Jägarna".

Describe a typical swedish woman?
That one was tougher. I saw both actresses Lena Olin and Helena Bergström and just couldn't decide which of them was closest to my inner image of a swedish woman. I went for Lena Olin, since I love her eyes. On the other hand, I love Helena Bergströms cheek bones too. No, I chose Lena.

Describe a norwegian male?
I saw a big, strong wiking with long redish hair and a beard to match.

A female norwegian?
I saw a very slim brunette, probably a childhood memory of someone I've met. Possibly an old friend of my mother.

A danish male?
I saw the danish actor Mads Mikkelsen.

Danish female?
Easy-peasy! The Queen of Denmark, of course. The best thing about her is that she gives you the impression of being just like the woman next door.

A guy from Finland?
I saw a really drunken guy with high cheek bones, dark blond, dirty hair, and a knife in his hand.

Finnish female?
A woman much younger than she looked, broad face, blond, short and slightly plump. Strong, big boobies, blue eyes and a broad mouth with rounded lips. This is probably also a childhood memory of a girl who used to work for my father.

Now, with the scandinavian people out of the way, it was time for the really heavy stuff, namely the rest of the world. RazorTongue started out gently with Europe:

A german male?
My fathers youngest brother came to mind. Tall, broad shouldered, short blond hair, blue eyes and a red face.

German female?
A huge opera diva, singing Wagner's Götterdämmerung, dressed in something inspired by wikings, with the horns and everything.

And so she continued, country after country. A french man was slim, had a moustache and carried a loaf of bread. A spaniard female was olive-skinned, voluptous and had big dark eyes. A turkish male was muscular, short and had a lot of body hair. And so on. I just can't write all my answers here. I thought it would take about an hour. Instead it took three, coffe break included. I'll just list those that might interest my readers. I can only hope you won't rip my head off...

A typical englishman?
Michael Palin. I just love this guy.

A typical male african?
A zulu-warrior. Tall, slim and muscular, dark as fresh brewed coffe. Kind of like this guy. And no, I don't believe africans are cannibals.

A typical female african?
The most beautiful woman I've ever seen was african. I don't know where she came from exactly, but she was at least 5.9 feet tall, if not more, like 6.2. I only saw her for about 30 minutes as she was dancing at an ethnic festival in Lund in the late 70s. I've never forgotten her, even if I can't describe her better than tall, slim and really black skin. She had this aura around her that's very hard to describe. She represents african women for me.

A typical white american male?
I'm sorry to say that the image that came before me was the image of a fat, obnoxius, beer-drinking red-neck leaning against an old rusty truck with a rifle in his hand and a Stetson on his head...

Typical white american female?
The image of a housewife from the fifties emerged.

Typical black american male?
Some kind of mix between Wesley Snipes, Tu-Pac and Mike Tyson.

Typical black female?
(Please don't kill me...) The image that emerged by this question was a loud-mouthed, obesive, woman in her mid-twenties with five kids, living on social security and with a boyfriend who beat her up once in a while and she saw nothing wrong with it.

The last two questions were about a typical gay males/females and the two images I got were Mark Levengood, a swedish tv-personality and writer and Ellen DeGeneres, the american comedienne.

(This is not good. I really have to work with these inner images, especially the one on afro-american women. I know that they don't look like that, but that's the image that constantly is being promoted by the media, especially talkshows like Rikki Lake. The only obesive white woman I've ever seen (or remember) on any american show is Mimi in the Drew Carey show.)

However, this was a useful trip inside myself and it raised many questions. How come I see white american women as housewives from some old movie and not the men? Why is the image of the "red-neck" stronger than for instance an image of James Stewart, Gary Cooper, Gene Kelly or Clark Gable, which would have been much more fitting to my image of the housewife?

Why do I see black american men as "dangerous"? Why not more like Bill Cosby?

Anyway, I really got my job cut out for me. Prejudice is not to fool around with.

[A little later]

Now I've shaved. Next time I'll try Veet.


Piggy and Tazzy said...

So so hope Michael Palin isn't the typical Englishman !

I can't stand him.

PissedOffPencil said...

pig & taz:

Why not? I had to choose between him, John Cleese and that butler in "Upstairs, downstairs".

I chose MP because he LOOKS like a typical englishman, not because he really is one. :)

Catherine Vocalist said...

Lena Olin is a Goddess. :)

We all have prejudices so what you described I'm sure others have imagined also including myself. It's very unfortunate that Black men and women are seen in such a manner but that IS how the media portrays them especially the news.

Your post was very open and honest. Good job!

Maidink said...

I'm actually the American version of what you did with your daughter.


I look at the US and chop up the country into different identities. Californians - laid back and wealthy surfers. New York city dwellers - coffee drinking young punk professionals with crappy attitudes and inflated salaries to match their egos. new Englanders - they all look like LL Bean adverts. Everyone in the Bible belt is a baptist. Good heavens! I can go on for days.

And ALL Western Europeans look alike.