John Scalzi explains: "Being a straight white male is 'easy mode' for life"

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Scifi writer John Scalzi comes up with an explanation of Privilege that even nerds can comprehend.

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

This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it's easier to get.

(And oh god the comments.)

It's true. Although, I really regret making athleticism my dump stat. :(

Sounds about right, unless the straight white male happens to be a Pagan, Fascist or Anarchist or something.

No genetics are "twiddle your thumbs and wait for it" easy mode, even if some people try to make it out as such.

Dumb article is dumb.

Clearly, the gaming community has trouble understanding the (overused) concept of priveledge, so trying to dumb it down for us was necessary. Thanks.

Cakes:
Sounds about right, unless the straight white male happens to be a Pagan, Fascist or Anarchist or something.

Tack on "with mainstream beliefs" on the end mayhaps?

Awesome. Someone else who thinks they know what white privilege is talks out their ass about it.

"Even" nerds can understand it? I'm actually a bit offended.

tstorm823:
Dumb article is dumb.

Clearly, the gaming community has trouble understanding the (overused) concept of priveledge, so trying to dumb it down for us was necessary. Thanks.

Yeah, what he said.

Eh...ok, not exactly wrong as such (beyond the usual stuff about there being lots of ways to be oppressed, it's not just a straight line), but yeah, a bit condescending, and missing the main point.

People that don't understand privilege do so because they don't want to, not because of big words.

LetalisK:
Awesome. Someone else who thinks they know what white privilege is talks out their ass about it.

You mean Scalzi or the posters here? I can't tell.

(I _know_ I've got Easy Mode on. I can't turn it off, but I CAN tell the mods it's imba.)

Aidinthel:
"Even" nerds can understand it? I'm actually a bit offended.

tstorm823:
Dumb article is dumb.

Clearly, the gaming community has trouble understanding the (overused) concept of priveledge, so trying to dumb it down for us was necessary. Thanks.

Yeah, what he said.

It wasn't "Even nerds can understand it" It is about getting people to understand how privilege works without say privilege under the false theory that it is the word people have an issue with. But really it is the idea that people have an issue with. Most people want to believe that what they have they have earned by the sweat of their brow and pulling themselves up by their own boot straps.

Being a straight, white, male I know I come with certain advantages. I'm statistically less likely to be imprisoned or, if I am, it will be for a shorter sentence. A straight, black/latino, male is statically more likely to end up in prison. Now I believe that people are born more less equal. So why is that a minorities are more likely to end up in prison then me? I'm don't believe it has anything to do with me, or white people in general, being somehow innately better than minorities. (To believe otherwise... kinda racist. And by kinda, I mean a lot.)

So what explains it? Privilege or racism. And when you boil it down, they are two sides of the same coin.

Granted his analogy gets a little stretched when he glosses over economics too fast but, all in all, I agree with the premise.

arbane:

LetalisK:
Awesome. Someone else who thinks they know what white privilege is talks out their ass about it.

You mean Scalzi or the posters here? I can't tell.

(I _know_ I've got Easy Mode on. I can't turn it off, but I CAN tell the mods it's imba.)

The former. His explanation is a great example of how the theory of white privilege is often misunderstood and misused. The term "white privilege" is often misused as a blanket term for any and all possible advantages whites may enjoy, and often as a universal constant, when in reality its a very specific advantage a white person may enjoy. I'll go into more detail tomorrow if anyone cares, but right now the bottle of painkillers for my ankle is calling me.

edit: Or I'm talking about something irrelevant, as was pointed out to me below.

Add in the term "Christian", and that is mostly correct. Straight white male anything else, and you only get the straight white male privileges.

However, condescending article is condescending. I can understand "society tends to pander to me" without the article pulling Bioware ME3 debacle tactics, no less. Thank you for insulting my intelligence..

LetalisK:

arbane:

LetalisK:
Awesome. Someone else who thinks they know what white privilege is talks out their ass about it.

You mean Scalzi or the posters here? I can't tell.

(I _know_ I've got Easy Mode on. I can't turn it off, but I CAN tell the mods it's imba.)

The former. His explanation is a great example of how the theory of white privilege is often misunderstood and misused. The term "white privilege" is often misused as a blanket term for any and all possible advantages whites may enjoy, and often as a universal constant, when in reality its a very specific advantage a white person may enjoy. I'll go into more detail tomorrow if anyone cares, but right now the bottle of painkillers for my ankle is calling me.

Note that at no point in the article 'white privilege' is actually mentioned (except in the comments, but I really don't ant to read those). Scalzi uses the blanket term 'privilege', by which he probably means 'white privilege, straight privilege and male privilege' rolled into one convenient term.

Mathak:

LetalisK:

arbane:

You mean Scalzi or the posters here? I can't tell.

(I _know_ I've got Easy Mode on. I can't turn it off, but I CAN tell the mods it's imba.)

The former. His explanation is a great example of how the theory of white privilege is often misunderstood and misused. The term "white privilege" is often misused as a blanket term for any and all possible advantages whites may enjoy, and often as a universal constant, when in reality its a very specific advantage a white person may enjoy. I'll go into more detail tomorrow if anyone cares, but right now the bottle of painkillers for my ankle is calling me.

Note that at no point in the article 'white privilege' is actually mentioned (except in the comments, but I really don't ant to read those). Scalzi uses the blanket term 'privilege', by which he probably means 'white privilege, straight privilege and male privilege' rolled into one convenient term.

Good point. You may be giving him too much credit, but on the other hand, I may be enjoying the smell of my own farts too much.

arbane:
Scifi writer John Scalzi comes up with an explanation of Privilege that even nerds can comprehend.

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

This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it's easier to get.

(And oh god the comments.)

*Remembers time spent in West Virgina doing charity work* Hmmm...bullshit. Go to West Virgina and tell them that because some middle class suburban white families in other states have it easy, that means all straight white males in West Virgina have it easy too. See how far that gets you.

Funny thing is, they article says that white males in the entire Western World have it easy. I guess Belfast isn't part of the Western World then, either is places like Malmö, Sweden. I want to hear how easy a Catholic Irishmen in Belfast has it when he says that he is proud of people like Bobby Sands, or when a Swedish man says in Malmö how he doesn't like Islam or the country's current immigration policy.

Helmholtz Watson:
*Remembers time spent in West Virgina doing charity work* Hmmm...bullshit. Go to West Virgina and tell them that because some middle class suburban white families in other states have it easy, that means all straight white males in West Virgina have it easy too. See how far that gets you.

Funny thing is, they article says that white males in the entire Western World have it easy. I guess Belfast isn't part of the Western World then, either is places like Malmö, Sweden. I want to hear how easy a Catholic Irishmen in Belfast has it when he says that he is proud of people like Bobby Sands, or when a Swedish man says in Malmö how he doesn't like Islam or the country's current immigration policy.

The author has cringable oversimplified things, yes but is more or less correct. It's not that straight white males automatically have it better than everyone else, it's that if you change one of those factors but keep everything else the same, things will almost always be worse.

A straight white male living in poverty will be better off than a gay white male living in poverty, for example.

arbane:
Scifi writer John Scalzi comes up with an explanation of Privilege that even nerds can comprehend.

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

This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it's easier to get.

(And oh god the comments.)

Not this again. You know by perpetuating this lie it indeed becomes true. There is nothing more moral boosting than believing you have it easier or demoralizing than believing the world doesn't like you.

Rich straight white males without any chronic diseases or other issues have it easier than anyone, in the US at least. I think Obama probably had an easier time in life than Cleetus the buck toothed working class boy from Arizona.

I'd say class is what matters most, even in countries where it shouldn't. We have completely free education all the way to the top here in Sweden, but I still am less likely to make it there because I don't come from a rich family, statistically. I'm also less likely to make it there than a woman. I am more likely to make it there than a poor immigrant from Nigeria. On the other hand, I don't know if there have been studies on if I am more or less likely to make it there than a rich, well spoken immigrant named John (who is still black), from Nigeria.

Even then, if I was blind, had disfiguring adult acne or was born a midget I think that would throw my "privelige" out of whack.

If he had said, being a healty, rich person of the same gender and race as the majority power holders in your country, then you will have it slightly easier in life. Then I might have agreed.

Being white does not come with superpowers, or with the automatic respect of everyone around you. Being black is not a crippling ailment. And I think it is ironic that so many "anti-racists" seem to hold so dearly to such literally racist views.

I should re-roll as lesbian minority for the challenge. Yeah I can't really complain I was born a (relatively) wealthy straight white male.

On average, white males have it easiest because they are more likely to come from middle class families. But only on average. I'd wager that it's better to be a black homosexual living in London than it is a poor white guy in South Africa who can't afford to live in a gated community.

I'm not sure how far his analogy works either. In the past before there were anti-discrimination laws then yes, "parts of the map" were shut off to non-whites and females, but not so much anymore. For Muslims that may well be true, but i don't think that applies to blacks and females so much. In fact you could argue that being a attractive white female gives you more benefits than an ordinary white guy. The authors correct if we're talking averages here, but he's simplifying a bit.

And the simple reason why whites on average have it easiest is because that group is most likely to come from more wealthy families. And wealth has a far greater impact on how easy the game of life is than ones race or sexual orientation or gender.

Helmholtz Watson:

*Remembers time spent in West Virgina doing charity work* Hmmm...bullshit. Go to West Virgina and tell them that because some middle class suburban white families in other states have it easy, that means all straight white males in West Virgina have it easy too. See how far that gets you.

This is about averages.

On average, men are taller than women. Whilst there are some very short men and very tall women and plenty of men shorter than plenty of women, the average that men are taller than women is true. The same concept is behind Scalzi saying that being a white male in the West is on average an advantageous factor.

Nickolai77:
On average, white males have it easiest because they are more likely to come from middle class families.

Not exactly. It's a cause, yes, but not always a direct cause. A black person is generally going to have it worse than a white person, all else being equal, even if they are of the same class, because white people dominate the wealthier classes.

Great, this again. My opinion of making sweeping statements about "privilege" is that they're just that; sweeping statements, generalisations, unwarranted assumptions about an individual based on the nebulous associations of their race and sexuality and gender. Furthermore, these "privilege" assumptions are exactly the kind of prejudiced statements that you wouldn't be allowed to make about any other race, gender or sexuality.

While potentially (heck, probably) true for the statistical majority, this idea of privilege is so sweeping and vague that it becomes all but useless, and at worst damagingly false, when applied to any sample size smaller than the entirety of straight white males. At that point it just becomes a tool to justify denigrating an individual, or subgroup of, straight white males.

Predictably, I'm sure some posters will note my lack of outspoken, self-flagellating enthusiasm for this particularly perverse form of self-deprecation and conclude that I'm trying to "protect my privelege" by denying that it exists.

Batou667:
Great, this again. My opinion of making sweeping statements about "privilege" is that they're just that; sweeping statements, generalisations, unwarranted assumptions about an individual based on the nebulous associations of their race and sexuality and gender. Furthermore, these "privilege" assumptions are exactly the kind of prejudiced statements that you wouldn't be allowed to make about any other race, gender or sexuality.

While potentially (heck, probably) true for the statistical majority, this idea of privilege is so sweeping and vague that it becomes all but useless, and at worst damagingly false, when applied to any sample size smaller than the entirety of straight white males. At that point it just becomes a tool to justify denigrating an individual, or subgroup of, straight white males.

I don't personally have that much of an issue anymore with the notion of privilege as a concept, but I generally dislike how people use it nor do I often agree with the frequencies of how it arose.

It's often used as clobber jargon. I like your second paragraph as it chimes with my personal definition of prejudice - treating an individual by the statistics of their group rather than an individual.

I often feel with issues like this supporters of an idea conflate non-acceptance of an idea with a lack of understanding. If you keep having to explain the idea then it's also possibly (a) just not a very good idea or (b) you aren't explaining it very well.

Atrocious Joystick:

Even then, if I was blind, had disfiguring adult acne or was born a midget I think that would throw my "privelige" out of whack.

Yep. there's lots of different kinds of privilege. Able-bodied people have privilege, attractive people have privilege too.

Atrocious Joystick:
If he had said, being a healty, rich person of the same gender and race as the majority power holders in your country, then you will have it slightly easier in life. Then I might have agreed.

White men are the majority power holders in most countries. In the ones without a significant white population, it's men of other races.

Atrocious Joystick:
Being white does not come with superpowers, or with the automatic respect of everyone around you. Being black is not a crippling ailment. And I think it is ironic that so many "anti-racists" seem to hold so dearly to such literally racist views.

I'm not sure anyone actually believes this.

arbane:
Scifi writer John Scalzi comes up with an explanation of Privilege that even nerds can comprehend.

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

This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it's easier to get.

(And oh god the comments.)

Im so fucking pissed at this! Everytime I have a good idea for an essay I waste it and someone else does it.

Here is my exact same concept in a thread 3 fucking months ago

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/528.345783-What-Skyrim-can-teach-us-about-race-in-America#13829181

Edit: do you guys think i have a credible law suit? White man always stealing a brotha's ideas. RAAAAAGE

WolfThomas:
I should re-roll as lesbian minority for the challenge. Yeah I can't really complain I was born a (relatively) wealthy straight white male.

Real hardcore players re-roll as an omnisexual, transgendered, quadriplegic, deaf, blind, mute and mentally disabled minority.

Anything less than that is casual as fuck.

thaluikhain:

Nickolai77:
On average, white males have it easiest because they are more likely to come from middle class families.

Not exactly. It's a cause, yes, but not always a direct cause. A black person is generally going to have it worse than a white person, all else being equal, even if they are of the same class, because white people dominate the wealthier classes.

But in a liberal and tolerant society i don't really think a black middle class person surrounded by equally middle class white people isn't going to be oppressed. He or she's going to be very concious that they are a minority, which may lead to self-esteem issues, but i wouldn't put a black middle class person at any serious disadvantage compared to a white middle class persons. So long as they are in a liberal and tolerant environment.

Captcha: Om nom nom

Win... XD

WolfThomas:
I should re-roll as lesbian minority for the challenge. Yeah I can't really complain I was born a (relatively) wealthy straight white male.

Isn't that why people play MUMMORPERGERs in the first place?

The article may have been a bit condescending, but when I see the childishness that comes out of the gamer community sometimes, I wonder if a little condescension isn't needed.

Nickolai77:

thaluikhain:

Nickolai77:
On average, white males have it easiest because they are more likely to come from middle class families.

Not exactly. It's a cause, yes, but not always a direct cause. A black person is generally going to have it worse than a white person, all else being equal, even if they are of the same class, because white people dominate the wealthier classes.

But in a liberal and tolerant society i don't really think a black middle class person surrounded by equally middle class white people isn't going to be oppressed. He or she's going to be very concious that they are a minority, which may lead to self-esteem issues, but i wouldn't put a black middle class person at any serious disadvantage compared to a white middle class persons. So long as they are in a liberal and tolerant environment.

Oh, yeah, sure, if they were ina society which wasn't racist (or, more likely, it was racist against people that weren't them). As it stands in the west, though...

Nickolai77:

thaluikhain:

Nickolai77:
On average, white males have it easiest because they are more likely to come from middle class families.

Not exactly. It's a cause, yes, but not always a direct cause. A black person is generally going to have it worse than a white person, all else being equal, even if they are of the same class, because white people dominate the wealthier classes.

But in a liberal and tolerant society i don't really think a black middle class person surrounded by equally middle class white people isn't going to be oppressed. He or she's going to be very concious that they are a minority, which may lead to self-esteem issues, but i wouldn't put a black middle class person at any serious disadvantage compared to a white middle class persons. So long as they are in a liberal and tolerant environment.

Captcha: Om nom nom

Win... XD

First, we dont really live in liberal tolerant societies, and second that still is unlikely.

The black middle class etc person may not be opressed, but there will still be clear social, physical, and cultural distinctions that they have that are not "default" Therefore, they still have to do something beyond what the default character must do to ge to the same spot.

the abyss gazes also:
Most people want to believe that what they have they have earned by the sweat of their brow and pulling themselves up by their own boot straps.

If this wasn't the *only* context *I've* ever seen it used in, I'd be more inclined to have a discussion about it. Nothing like having people tell you you were handed everything on a silver platter while they had to work harder for less. They can explain it whateverthehellway they want to, but that always seems to be their point.

Privilege can only exist within context. And every discussion always assumes the same context. Bah.

The blatant racism in that article kind of made me sick to my stomach, I couldn't read far enough to see if he made an actual point.

Agema:

Helmholtz Watson:

*Remembers time spent in West Virgina doing charity work* Hmmm...bullshit. Go to West Virgina and tell them that because some middle class suburban white families in other states have it easy, that means all straight white males in West Virgina have it easy too. See how far that gets you.

This is about averages.

On average, men are taller than women. Whilst there are some very short men and very tall women and plenty of men shorter than plenty of women, the average that men are taller than women is true. The same concept is behind Scalzi saying that being a white male in the West is on average an advantageous factor.

That sounds like a no-true-Scotsman argument. Why shouldn't Irish people count? Why shouldn't people in West Virgina count? Why shouldn't men in Sweden count?

thaluikhain:

Helmholtz Watson:
*Remembers time spent in West Virgina doing charity work* Hmmm...bullshit. Go to West Virgina and tell them that because some middle class suburban white families in other states have it easy, that means all straight white males in West Virgina have it easy too. See how far that gets you.

Funny thing is, they article says that white males in the entire Western World have it easy. I guess Belfast isn't part of the Western World then, either is places like Malmö, Sweden. I want to hear how easy a Catholic Irishmen in Belfast has it when he says that he is proud of people like Bobby Sands, or when a Swedish man says in Malmö how he doesn't like Islam or the country's current immigration policy.

The author has cringable oversimplified things, yes but is more or less correct. It's not that straight white males automatically have it better than everyone else, it's that if you change one of those factors but keep everything else the same, things will almost always be worse.

A straight white male living in poverty will be better off than a gay white male living in poverty, for example.

The author might be right about middle class Americans, but when I went to West Virgina, the white people were just as poor as the black people. Niether group had any advantage. Also, as other people have pointed out, the straight white male would probably be treated worse in West Virgina than a black male if the white male was an Atheist or another kind of non-Christian.

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