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The RPG of Life...

At last, a really useful way to bypass the "p" word... Thanks, John!

Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is
May 15, 2012 By John Scalzi

I’ve been thinking of a way to explain to straight white men how life works for them, without invoking the dreaded word “privilege,” to which they react like vampires being fed a garlic tart at high noon. It’s not that the word “privilege” is incorrect, it’s that it’s not their word. When confronted with “privilege,” they fiddle with the word itself, and haul out the dictionaries and find every possible way to talk about the word but not any of the things the word signifies.

So, the challenge: how to get across the ideas bound up in the word “privilege,” in a way that your average straight white man will get, without freaking out about it?

Being a white guy who likes women, here’s how I would do it:

Dudes. Imagine life here in the US — or indeed, pretty much anywhere in the Western world — is a massive role playing game, like World of Warcraft except appallingly mundane, where most quests involve the acquisition of money, cell phones and donuts, although not always at the same time. Let’s call it The Real World. You have installed The Real World on your computer and are about to start playing, but first you go to the settings tab to bind your keys, fiddle with your defaults, and choose the difficulty setting for the game. Got it?

Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.

btw - some of the comments are even more fun than the article.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 17th, 2012 09:37 pm (UTC)
So. I was born into a Navy family, where we lived in Tin shacks until I was 9. Mom divorced, and then I lived as a poor kid in podunk until I turned 18. I busted my ass and worked 5am Sat and Sun to pay for a car so I could take my girl out. I got out of pudunk by gambling with my life and entering the military, where I recieved enormous RF burns which affect my memory to this day (I'm very bad with names). But I got through college, working my way every day except for my senior summer.

I have never had a vacation other than occasional 4day weekends.

I bought my first new car at age 42. The wife had hers long before I did. Most of my vehicles have been jalopies I've repaired and held together with prayer and llama spit.

I work and slave nearly fulltime for my wife and my daughters. I work to maintain the house and all its systems for them. I have little free time to devote to my numerous projects. And likely a number of them will go to the grave with me when I die early from a heart attack. Then my wife will enjoy all of my life's savings for an average of 15 more years while I moulder into worm food in a box.

And this, somehow, is supposed to be a man's world?! I fail to see how I have anything that I didn't have to scrap and fight for, and my white skin and genitalia didn't help one bit. And that those I'm caring for are getting a LOT more happiness from my life than I am getting.
May. 17th, 2012 10:01 pm (UTC)
The setting you start on has little enough to do with the rest of the game - I've gotten hammered on Diablo in Normal on some occasions, and done just fine in Nightmare in others. So it makes a fairly decent metaphor, for a discussion of a statistical class. It's just necessary to recognize that it IS a statistical discussion, and has zippo to do with the experience of any individual. And even LESS to do with blame for the situation.

May. 17th, 2012 10:19 pm (UTC)

Sorry, that's a sore spot with me. Sorry if I griped a little there. I'm tired of people who had it much easier than I did telling me how priveleged I was and how they wish we could trade places. I usually say yeah, so do I.
May. 18th, 2012 03:17 am (UTC)
It is a problem to be sure - it's hard to explain sometimes that having a potential advantage is NOT the same thing as oppressing anybody who doesn't. And that having this explained is not the same as requiring you to fix it. But understanding that not all of your experiences are universal is priceless sometimes. (Go read John Griffin's Black Like Me sometimes for an example of someone with one difficulty level trying out someone else's difficulty level in particularly trying times.)

Edited at 2012-05-18 03:19 am (UTC)
May. 17th, 2012 10:20 pm (UTC)
Btw: I'm too busy to play games anymore either :)
May. 18th, 2012 03:18 am (UTC)
Sounds like it. At least you have time to converse on the net. The occasional break is important, regardless of how much is on your plate!
May. 18th, 2012 12:49 am (UTC)
I always liked how Howard Stern refered to people born into privilage-- "winning the sperm lottery.'
May. 18th, 2012 03:19 am (UTC)
May. 18th, 2012 02:15 am (UTC)
He hit the nail on the head. It's just the luck of the draw - and I want to know who loaded the dice.
May. 18th, 2012 03:18 am (UTC)
Hear hear...
May. 20th, 2012 10:14 am (UTC)
and the article is more condescending than anyone pretending to open a dialogue should allow.

Straight white men in Western civilization get lots of "privilege." If by privilege you mean equal parts "responsibility" and "blame."

All BS aside-- a white, straight male is still expected--- note, not "given the option', EXPECTED--- to be either independent and self-reliant, or a homemaker and breadwinner. A woman may choose to be a career woman, a working mother, or a full-time housewife and mom, and be praised for it by society. Even if she never leaves home there is far less stigma upon her than upon a man.
It is the male who gets in the lifeboats last and is cursed as a coward otherwise.

It is the male who is required BY LAW to make themselves available for the draft.

It is also the man who is expected to pick up the gun, the baseball bat, or other improvised weapon and go investigate that sound the wife heard.

It is the white, straight male who is expected to step aside in the job application line so that a less qualified woman, or a less qualified person with a different skin color or taste in bed partners may be employed.

It is the white, straight male who is expected to pay "reparations" to people who were never slaves in their lives, for the acts of slaveowners who have been dead for over a hundred years--- and the notion is taken seriously.

It is the white, straight male who can be falsely accused of assault, battery, and rape, lose his job, his home, even his freedom, without benefit even of a trial, and when finally proven innocent, his accuser suffers no consequence whatsoever--- because of "the victim culture" that "oppresses women."

It is the white, straight male who can be accused of sexual harassment with no proof whatsoever, and again his false accuser will suffer no penalty. Yet if the white, straight male is sexually harassed by a female, or better yet by a homosexual man, the law literally gives him no legal recourse.

It is the white, straight male who is screwed to high hell by divorce law. the gross majority of all divorces are filed by women, the gross majority of divorce trials are decided in favor of the woman, even when it was the woman who cheated, beat the kids, and treated her husband like crap. A man has so little legal protection in the marriage contract that he could go out every five years, find a woman he hates and buy her a HOUSE.. and he'd STILL be better off.

The white, straight male is expected to sign a prenup. But he's also a pig if he asks for one himself.

The white, straight male, in spite of building western freaking civilization and nearly every single thing in it that has benefited the lives of all those living in it, male and female, red, yellow, black OR white, is never allowed to be praised for anything he has made, and in spite of the savage barbarity found in EVERY corner of the world and on both sides of the gender line is singularly blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong in the world anywhere, ever.

With the advent of climate scaremongers, he is now even held to blame for bad weather.

Screw you and your "easy mode."

May. 21st, 2012 06:47 pm (UTC)
Bitter much?

And one last thing to make you happier:
Not even responsibility, as the "Nanny State" is moving in on taking that away.

Blame it is!

May. 22nd, 2012 03:16 am (UTC)
No, we still get the responsibility too. After all, someone has to work the salt mines to pay the taxes to keep all that welfare flowing...
May. 24th, 2012 04:00 am (UTC)
As has been pointed out elsewhere...
An excellent analogy, and as was pointed out elsewhere (by MANY people), having the "easy" setting doesn't mean an automatic win. (I've experienced that little problem in Starcraft II a time or two ... :-)).
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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