Well, my time this morning is limited, so let me start by saying that I did not read each individual post, but rather enough so that I feel I have an understanding of what's being discussed.
To laurabeth- I think most, if not all, people can relate to where you are coming from with your feelings of frustration. I know I can. We live in a world where more and more, individualism is brought tumbling down. All around us, we stereotype constantly, as one poster said, "to make sense of the world." Its a human trait, one that allows us to have memory, as well, by grouping things we know together with new things, to build our knowledge and understanding of that new thing.
You strike me as a sensitive person. That is certainly not meant to be a stereotype, simply an observation. I personally am a sensitive person. How much of my idea that you are sensitive, as well, is based on empathy? How much is based on actual knowledge? This is the heart of this issue, in my opinion.
Many times, I have talked with people online or in "real life" who will tend to put me into a box; and many times, this has frustrated me, as well. But my reaction to that frustration is simply to acknowledge that a particular person needs to "think outside of the box". Allow me to briefly rant what I mean..
I had my son at 18, totally single, having left a bad relationship and needing some serious "me time" to learn to demand much better for myself. Everyone from my parents to doctors to people on the streets "stereotyped" me as a young girl who would not put her child first, who needed to grow up, etc. Well.. I knew different, and by and by, I "proved them all wrong" so to speak. Whether or not they actually knew they were being contradicted; or for that matter, whether or not they even cared, was not my concern. I knew I was doing the best I could, and how I felt, each little intricate emotion of love. Therefore, I didn't seek their approval in the first place. Does this mean that things didn't hurt my feelings? Absolutely not. However, feelings are part of being alive, part of being a resident of Earth, in my opinion.
My other point is that I feel its important for each soul to express who they are, what they think, etc, whenever they choose. Naturally, through this process, people will tend to "stereotype" others, even themselves. IMO, if you limit that process by using only language and sentence structure that is completely politically correct, then you often lose your point in the first place amid all of the whish-wash. Certainly, I do not personally feel it is any person's right to degrade or humiliate another person; but I do feel it is every person's right to say what they think, regardless of whether or not they know what they are talking about, and regardless of whether or not they have each minute detail of a thing. After all, that is the reason conversations are often two-sided, and often continue for several sentences, IMO.
I would lastly like to echo many of the posters that I've read by saying that I encourage you to continue posting, and stating your precise views and opinions, so that everyone here can get a more clear sense of who you are as an individual. I would also encourage you to remember that whomever offended you, they are also very much an individual, and likely just need to be able to elaborate on what exactly they were trying to say in order for you to feel understanding.
I love these boards!