Hello, stranger. Or friend. Whoever is reading this.
I am afraid these days. My adventure began a year ago, and here I am. Not much smarter than before, but I definitely made a lot of experiences. I met interesting people and stupid ones. (Not saying one excludes the other)
One question I heard a lot in the last year was “Do all Germans like/do/have/….[insert random stereotype here]?”
So, I want you to do something. Get out your ID. Look at it and think what it says about you. It is only a piece of plastic with some letters and probably a bad picture on it. Yet it determines a lot of things.
It gives you the rights and privileges of living in the country that issued your ID, it makes it possible for you to travel and possibly makes it possible to buy alcohol. It may make people hateful towards you, it may make you interesting to them.
The nationality itself is printed on it. People will assume that I like beer, blasmusik and the Oktoverfest because I was born in Munich – even though I may hate all of it. They will say I am efficient even though I may be the laziest and most unorganized person on earth. Can this little credit card really tell you that much about me?
In some, if not many, countries people will suffer because there is a “F” instead of a “M” in the column for “sex”. Women are not allowed to vote, drive or leave the house alone in some states. Moreover, it will raise expectations on how you look, dress and behave. A “M” makes it socially unacceptable to wear a skirt or dress in public.
Do we want a little piece of plastic to get so much into our personal space, influence our choices? I don’t think so, and hope this helps you think about the role of that little letter. Germany is the first European country that finally stopped this random assignment of expectations by introducing a “undefined” option.