I think stereotypes get so ingrained into us that it’s possible for us to express them without actually buying into them. Which is why it’s so important to point out to someone when they’re expressing a stereotype, and to try not to do it again once someone points it out to you. It’s important for us to become aware of the biases we’re expressing, and choose to avoid them in the future.
This has come to mind because of one particular sexist stereotype I run into occasionally when reading books that annoys the hell out of me (it’s becoming a bona fide pet peeve of mine). I don’t believe that most authors who use this stereotype are sexist. I think they just don’t realize this is a stereotype and what the implications of it are. Hopefully if people point it out to them they won’t use that stereotype again.
Said stereotype is when women (usually of similar age) in a piece of fiction cannot trust each other, cannot rely on each other in a pinch, and often backstab each other over the affections of a man. Often they’re rivals in one sense or another–for those aforementioned affections, and/or in other ways. Usually in these books there are no positive female-female friendships depicted. The message it sends is that women cannot trust or rely on each other–only on the men who profess to care for them.
Now you know. So please avoid this particular stereotype so I don’t have to keep grumbling about it every time I run into it!