Guest Blog: Yasmin Islam

Guest Blog: Yasmin Islam

Tuesday, 19th of February

Guest Blog: Yasmin Islam
Stereotyping and Condescension of Teenagers

by Yasmin Islam

Teenagers – the most misunderstood people in the world. According to the stereotype we are all loud, rude, arrogant children trying to act like adults. Why? You only have to look around you to see that this is fiction rather than fact. If you think of teenagers you think of a bunch of troublemaking juveniles - however, the reality is a majority of genuinely nice people.

I’m not saying that nobody is the stereotypical teenager; after all, a stereotype has to come from somewhere. However, it is the minority of adolescents that mug, mock and murder. Teenage pregnancies are rising, but this does not mean that we are all going to have three children before we are nineteen. Again, I emphasise the word MINORITY. Prejudging is something that adults pretend that they are devoid of but they all do.

People on the street, they look around and see groups of teenagers ‘loitering’. The most likely explanation is not that these teens are armed gangs waiting to mug someone; they are merely friends on a day out together. In addition, the use of a hood: it does not mean that the wearer will assault you. Even when it is raining, people have been seen to swerve around a teenager simply because they have their hood up.

Treated like children and expected to behave like adults, what are adolescents supposed to do? Constantly being looked down on, ordered around like slaves and being treated with never-ending disrespect – and even when teenagers argue their opinion it is seen as rude. Sometimes adults can be impossibly stubborn; sometimes it seems like it does NOT matter what your opinion is, it is and always will be invalid. Being treated like this, who should blame us for getting frustrated every now and then? It is not stroppiness, it is not spontaneous anger, it is frustration. Unheard: a feeling that a teenager has felt at least once.

There is always that one aunt that feels the need to pinch your cheeks as though you were four rather than fourteen and recount about the times when you actually were four, as you stand there, embarrassed, awkward and completely unable to do anything to prevent the horrors that are your childhood stories from being told. What is even worse are the baby photos and the constantly used phrase ‘I remember when you were only this high’. The condescension comes mainly from your relatives although sometimes from strangers – that is, if they aren’t keeping their distance and complaining about the young generation.

They say that our generation is the worst yet, which is ironic considering the generation who are saying these things are the generation who raised us. A newborn baby in all of its innocence; how can people say that even from this age bad people are bad people? Part of what defines you is your environment in which you were brought up in, part is who you are and the best part is how your parents brought you up. There is no such thing as ‘bad blood’, but there is such thing as ‘bad parenting’.

The gratitude for some of the things that we do for other people is almost, if not completely, lacking. How many times have you let somebody older than you onto the bus before you, only to be ignored and not thanked? We are doing other people a favour by letting them on, yet it seems to have become a rule that does not need thanking. And if you do not obey this rule, then you are patronisingly told to ‘let other people on first’. Getting told off by strangers is unbelievably condescending, and this only happens if you are a teenager. If an able adult gets on before an elderly person, all is ignored. ‘Unfair’, it seems, is becoming a synonym for ‘teenage life’.

Another thing that can be incredibly irritating is some of the things that teenagers can be called by. I’m not talking about ‘juveniles’ or ‘delinquents’; I am talking about the things that pass for acceptable. ‘Kids’, for example. The word itself seems patronising, not to mention its definition. Newsflash, adults – we are not baby goats; we are the future. Even the law, which is supposed to enforce equality, refers to people of our age as ‘minors’ – how condescending is that?

I am in no way saying that all non-adolescents are like this; it would be the worst type of stereotyping to stereotype about stereotyping. However, an adult who has been through the teenage years who remembers and understands how it feels to be the odd stage out in the circle of life is increasingly becoming a ‘rare species’, as it were.

Overall it seems like we are stuck in Victorian social hierarchy: the teenagers are the labourers to the aristocracy and royalty of all who have passed this stage in life. And indeed, it is as though some adults think of themselves as royalty. Many may think that teenagers do not in any way support society - many think that we are an unruly burden. I disagree – many people forget that teenagers are the future, and it is the things that they experience at this stage of their lives that affects their lives dramatically, and definitely affects all of our futures.

I must be clear; I am not saying that every teenager is perfect and every adult is a hypocrite, for it is crystal that this is incorrect. I am just pointing out the increasing lack of respect that adolescents seem to be receiving. Teenagers that do not show respect to adults only do so because that is the treatment that they have received from their supposedly wiser elders.

I thought I would end on an inspiring quote about teenagers and how they are misunderstood or something. It turns out, the only quotes that people have made about teenagers are criticising, and justify all of my previous points on stereotyping and sympathise for the parents – so much for understanding and inspiring. But eventually I found a fairly fitting quote from Oscar Wilde: ‘the old believe everything: the middle-aged suspect everything: the young know everything.’

Yasmin got this blog published through a challenge she entered on the MyKindaCrowd website. If you want to get published too, why not enter? Just click here to learn more

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