Disrespect, Harm, and Wrongful Stereotyping

Erin Beeghly: Disrespect, Harm, and Wrongful Sterotyping


In 1981, Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga published This Bridge Called My Back, a transformative anthology centering queer, working-class women of color and their vision for feminism. This chapter uses the testimony of Bridge contributors to develop a modestly pluralistic theory of what’s wrong with stereotyping. I begin by documenting two themes that run throughout the volume: the disrespect of stereotyping and the harms of stereotyping. Then I introduce a theory that formalizes Bridge contributors’ insights. According to this theory, an act of stereotyping is wrongful when it is disrespectful or causes harm. I turn to discrimination theory to interpret the theory's two main concepts. What does it mean for stereotyping to cause harm and to be disrespectful? Keeping discrimination theory in conversation with the lived experiences of Bridge contributors, I argue that the best theory of when and why stereotyping is wrong must feature hybrid understandings of “disrespect” and “harm.” What emerges is a novel theory of morally wrongful stereotyping that riffs on prominent, modestly pluralistic theories of what’s wrong with discrimination, while also challenging them.