But it’s such a good stereotype.

I’m currently reading The Blue Place by Nicola Grittith. As always when it comes to her writing, it’s solid and sharp. And the concept it incredibly tickling and right up my alley, a dykey Spencer Tracy planting flowers and solving crimes in the grimey and heat stricken Atlanta. It’s all good. It’s all kinda perfect actually. Except for one thing, the main character is Norwegian and it’s pointed out every other chapter.

No, this isn’t going to turn into a bunch of Norwegian jokes (even if I do have them, I am after all a half Swede). What I wanted to write about was the power of the stereotype, and boy is it powerful. Because despite the solid writing I am writhing under and struggling with the concept of this big bad butch as a Norwegian. Aud Torvingen is supposed to be a little too cool for school, cold, calculated, skilled and ultimately a through and through badass. But like…she’s Norwegian! Norwegians come draped in lusekoftor, take long hikes along the fjords and have ruddy red cheeks and bright eyes glowing with good health. This is so ingrained in me that my mind is having some serious problems trying to compute the noir hero with this notion of a people full of a gentle language and easy-going attitude.

I’m not foolish enough to equate all Norwegians with my silly stereotype. On a logical and intelligent level I know there is nothing that prevents a Norwegian from being a badass. I mean once upon a time they even made a name for themselves as such as their ancestors pillaged and plundered across Europe. But damn it is hard to break your emotional centre out of your expectations (and past experiences). And this is only in relation to something as silly as fiction and the stereotype is for the most part benign (if possibly somewhat belittling, as they all are).

My struggling mind says a lot about how incredibly powerful the stereotype is and how deeply we’re affected by it. From the smallest of things to in some cases the really big things. The frightening amount of expectations we put on people due to a label they themselves might not even have claimed. It’s a scary notion. Also a nice little wakeup call.

Still Aud the badass Norwegian will continue to be awkward in my mind. The stoic Norwegian is too much to handle. I say this in part jest, but part serious. And because of it I have no problem understanding those who are dead serious about their stereotypical perception of other people. I’m not saying it’s right, because it isn’t, far from it. But I have no problem understanding where they’re coming form. I just wish they in turn would open their eyes enough to realise we create the stereotypes and that they are only true if we decide they’re truth.

Despite this it’s an entertaining book and since there is a clear draught of lesbian noir heroes it is a must read.

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~ by Ape on October 11, 2012.

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