Short post, and not even super aggro. There are two common stereotypes (actually there are a lot more, but I just explained both of these to some young uneducated minds today. and by young uneducated minds I mean some UNC Chapel Hill (forevermore known as UNC) Dental College students) I actually sort of know the history of and can explain to you. Hopefully this will help you and make you a little less stupid. Let’s make this one thing super clear right now. These are GROSS over simplifications of ideas. These are just kind of basic templates where you can learn where some of these things come from. I’m thinking about doing this on a regular basis when things come up.
The first is on gossiping women. There’s this commonly held idea about women gossiping a lot and it’s all they do and why do they do it and bla. Well, I can tell you why women gossip. It requires a trip in a time machine all the way back to whenever societies moved to the extreme forms of patriarchy that went into societies with courts and stuff (like regencies and stuff but not just those. some of the forms before regencies and all that. It’s late, I’m forgetting the words but you get the idea.)
For the record, the rest of this part of the conversation deals solely with women of the upper classes. Let’s stay in this middle europe (home to so many of your favorite fantasy stories). In these societies men had ALL the power. This is just one of the many eras of ‘women as property.’ Women are married off for political gain. What keeps them useful are their looks and the prosperity of their family. They can help by being decently skilled at spinning or other crafts. They’re typically out of agency except for the fact that they’re not people.
By virtue of them being property they have the ability to hear and be told a lot of important information. They’re often in charge of servants and stuff like that so information gets to them. They can’t use any of that for power for themselves, but what they can do is exchange it with other women in their station. It’s a form of power for them. It works enough. This is their social capital and their part in the game. It’s a natural evolution from their societally given positions.
So. Why do women gossip? Because over their years it’s their source of agency and power. You can help your friends and bring rivals down by just knowing other people’s secrets. You can help your husband and family by just knowing that woman’s husband is barren and that baby totally isn’t his by semen.
The other one is Black folks talking in movie theaters. This one is a lot easier and shorter. Movies, at least in the states, were a communal experience. You packed people into theaters to see things because of scarcity and novelty. Black movie theaters tended to not exist in and of themselves and when they started to it was a different experience. Segregation and the fact that (much like today) white people could just go around and kill black folks with no fear of legal repercussions made black communities function differently. So when you go to the movie you’re going to the movie with family. It’s part of the thing where some of us call people we aren’t even remotely related to aunts and uncles and so forth. Big family thing.
The thing is, everyone talks during movies. Most just don’t do it in public. Most black people don’t do it in public. Most people talk in private with their friends and family. It’s a fun social activity. Movies aren’t the serious things we’ve made them into. The stereotype comes from a time when black people would go to movies as giant forty piece families and no one cared that people talked through parts of it. There’s more involved, but that’s kind of the history of it. Even that incidence was a rare occurrence, but it’s stuck with us. There’s also the thing about black folks having parties wherever they go cause life sucks so why not party?
So there you have it. Very brief, full of holes, histories on two common stereotypes.