Discussion question – When you see stereotypes

Imagine you’re watching a TV show or film. A male character runs to his car as he’s being pursued by someone or something. As soon as he reaches the car, he drops his keys, and the time he spends scrabbling around for them gives whatever was chasing him time to catch up.

Do you think:

(1) “what an idiot”.
(2) “what bad writing”.
(3) “yet another writer who thinks all men are stupid”

Now ask yourself the same question with a female character (changing the “men” reference in #3 to “women”, of course). For men, my answer was 2. For women, my answer was 3. It really should be the same answer, shouldn’t it?

I’ve been challenging myself lately to examine my own thinking. I’ve spent my whole life reprogramming and deprogramming so I wouldn’t just inherit the thoughts of the people around me unfiltered. But that’s how we learn, so it’s an ongoing process, flushing out the garbage. And I’m finding more than I expected.

How did you guys respond to the question? I think there are a lot more we could ask like this, too – would be interesting to see how we respond.


  1. Brandon says

    It did seem a little unusual to find a man in that position, but I mostly thought the guy must be scared. Whether it was bad writing or not depends on what was chasing him and what kind of man he is. Not all men are action heroes after all and being scared is perfectly reasonable at times. And I tend to drop my keys when I get in a hurry.

    As for if it was a woman, it just felt like lazy writing because that scene has been over done.

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