Drawing an American (analysis of Practical Exercise)

Today in class we were separated in three groups. One group was made of guys and two of girls. A picture of a statue of a man was given to the groups of girls and a picture of a statue of a woman was given to the group of guys. Then each group had to think and analyze what the American male/female identity mean for each group.

Girls used drawings to define the prototypical man. Among these images we can find: iPod, McDonald, money, surf, beach, the American flag, Harley-Davidson, Hollywood, Levis, baseball, Starbucks etc. The guys, on the other hand, attempted to find key words to define the prototypical women: mother, conservative, hard-working, puritan, liberal, protector, head of the family etc. These images and concepts, however, are nothing more than mere stereotypes.

Why did we use stereotypes? I think the main purpose of this activity was to understand the way in which we, human beings, map the world around us. The whole reality is too vast for us  to ever comprehend its totality. This is why we make use of both images and key concepts to represent certain elements of this universe, and this is what we do with nationalities and cultures that are unknown to us. It is really hard for an average human being to understand or get to know all the cultures of this planet. I think this is why we use stereotypes in this exercise. Regardless the fact that we have been studied North American Civilization, It is still really hard to describe an identity in a sheet of paper, for culture and nationalities are too complicate for being described in a few lines. There are too many nuances, too much complexity only in one single person, not to mention a whole community. I think this was the purpose of this exercise. As Americans say, there is more in the United States than the eye can meet.

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