shweta_narayan (shweta_narayan) wrote,

I am college-educated; I am not American. Which modifier did I remember to put in That Post?

This post, I mean.

I said, "Able neurotypical not-fat not-poor straight cis white anglophone American Christian men are considered to be prototypical humans."

Someone on boingboing pointed out that college-educated should be in that list. They are absolutely right. I missed it because we are often unaware of the ways in which we match the prototype. The default is unmarked.

Someone on metafilter claimed that I'm falling into my own categorical trap, which I think means projecting my own experience, when I say that Americans are prototypical, since they are a tiny percentage of the global population.  If I interpreted them right then this is wrong, for a few reasons.

1) I'm an Indian national. And, yes I live in the US now, but I didn't when I wrote the post. And I've lived in a lot of countries; US-centrism is a phenomenon I've encountered in all of them. (Consider the impact of white Americans getting killed. The whole world is expected to care. It's just not true for anyone else - unless it plays conveniently into existing bigotries/narratives of course.)

2) Percentage is irrelevant. Americans' position (in the absence of other context) as global prototype human has to do with their global power and prestige, and their extremely effective imperialism.

3) Going back to college-educated - if I were American, I probably wouldn't have thought to put that modifier on the list. Like I didn't think to put college-educated on the list. The default is unmarked - and the way I fall into my own categorical trap is in the things I don't notice.


Having said all that - prototypes absolutely do vary between people & communities, based on experience; and relevant categories and thus prototypes do absolutely shift with context. Take all generalizations as exactly that.
Tags: categorization, nitpicks, or further thoughts, something like that

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