When I lived in the south, I never really put much thought into specific southern stereotypes. This all changed when I moved to Wisconsin. I am currently enrolled in a history course, and at the beginning of the semester my professor wanted to discuss common assumptions made about different regions in the United States. When he asked the class to yell out some stereotypes about southerners, this is what he got:
You can imagine how far my jaw dropped when I realized this is what people thought of Southeners! I spent the rest of class grumpily slouching in my seat with my arms crossed.
While I don’t blame my northern friends for thier mispreceptions (I mean The Beverly Hillbillies and The Dukes of Hazzard don’t help the southern cause), I can’t help but get frustrated every time I’m asked if I live on a farm or know how to drive a tractor…the answers are no and no. While I’ve learned to laugh it off with the occasional eye roll, I’d like to prepare my fellow southeners with some of the common questions you’ll be asked if you move North. But, more importantly, I’d like to stomp out the stereotypes all together.
Do you live on a farm?
One of the most common questions I’m asked is if I live on a farm. And I hate to break it to everyone, but not everyone in the south was raised among chickens and cows. I’m actually pretty positive that I know of more people in Wisconsin that grew up on a farm than in Tennessee.
While Clarksville is known for its tobacco farms (so I was raised with an appreciation for the farming community), I have never worked nor lived on a farm. But for some reason, southerners have quiet the farming reputation. I personally live in a medium-sized house in a quiet neighborhood with no farm animals in sight.
Do you marry your cousins?
While some of you, both northeners and southeners alike, may be laughing at the thought of this, I get asked this question on a regular basis. And unfortunately the steroetypoe is justified as marriage between first cousins is legal in the majority of the southern states, including Tennessee.
However, it is also legal in numerous midwestern states as well, to include Wisconsin. Marriage between cousins is not as uncommon as most believe, and it’s certainly not limited to the southern states. Here is a site that provides the laws on a state by state basis regarding marriage between cousins.
Are you redneck?
This question is a little silly I have to admit, but it falls under the top three questions I’m most commonly asked about southern stereotypes. First off, I’d like to specify that the term “redneck” is used out of context on a regular basis. It actually means, according to dictionary.com, a white farm laborer, typically that lacks an education. Well, I don’t believe I fit this definition, since I dont work on a farm and I’m currently pursuing a college education.
However, I’ll assume that everyone uses the Urban Dictionary definition for redneck: a southerner with a glorious lack of sophitication…While I’ll assume no one means to be offensive when asking this question (because shows like Swamp People and Gator Boys don’t help), you can sense way maybe this question is a little frustrating.
So in all cases, I would simply avoiding asking or responding about this stereotype.
Now that I’ve finished venting, I must admit some Northern stereotypes that I was convinced of before moving to Wisconsin:
- Everyone’s rude: not true
- Always busy: not true
- Wealthier: not true
- They drink a lot of beer: true
It’s unfortunate that stereotypes exist at all and moving to Wisconsin has opened my eyes to the diversity among people. So my advice to both northerners and southerners would be to not sterotype anyone. We’re all alittle different.
Until next time,
NEXT WEEK: Bring Your Chapstick