Scalzi explains the concept of ‘privilege’ in a way that gamers can finally understand!
That article was written on easy mode, for readers with level 1 reading comprehension, and I feel bad having read it.
Now I feel dirty.
Great article. To bad the target audience will never be able to read it since it contains the word “privilege”.
The problem isn’t so much that straight white men don’t understand (in theory) what privilege is, and that they’re supposed to have a lot of it, which is somehow bad.
It’s that they don’t really understand how privilege makes their life better/easier if they don’t perceive themselves to be rich/have easy lives. The standard refrain is “I work at my crappy job every day like everyone else, my car/apartment is crappy like everyone else’s is, or I got laid off like everyone else, or I got cancer, or my house burned down, or I got mugged (by minority people!), or my boss is a woman, and no one has come around to give me my straight white guy care package, so this privilege stuff is clearly bunk.”
Then (I’ll use this example since it’s a game forum), someone will say something like “Man, I wish there were more minority lead heroes in video games.”, and those same dudes will go “Why are people even complaining about this? Aren’t there more important things to worry about? I never care what the color of the main character is a videogame is. And most gamers are white men, so the game companies are just being sensible and catering to their main demographic.”
And then I want to kick them in the shins.
What’s the ideal result of this kind of article, do you think? Will teaching privileged people that they are privileged affect their behavior?
Its also a terrible analogy. For every Mitt Romney, there are tens of thousands of straight white males living on the economic or social fringes of society. Meanwhile, are straight white males given easier test question on exams? Do corporations automatically given their straight white male employees 30% extra pay? Do straight white males recover from drug addiction quicker? Does anyone here believe Malia and Sasha Obama will have a harder time succeeding than their (for sake of argument) white, male, straight children?
Now, I am not arguing against any or all affirmative action programs, or saying discrimination isn’t real. I am saying its a lot more complicated than white guys have it easy or easier.
“It’s that they don’t really understand how privilege makes their life better/easier if they don’t perceive themselves to be rich/have easy lives. The standard refrain is “I work at my crappy job every day like everyone else, my car/apartment is crappy like everyone else’s is, or I got laid off like everyone else, or I got cancer, or my house burned down, or I got mugged (by minority people!), or my boss is a woman, and no one has come around to give me my straight white guy care package, so this privilege stuff is clearly bunk.””
head in hands
Privilege manifests in other ways. They get the same tests, okay, but they get extra credit in many social situations for no real reason.
Do corporations automatically given their straight white male employees 30% extra pay?
Sure, there’s all kinds of income disparity based on gender. Glass ceilings and all that.
Does anyone here believe Malia and Sasha Obama will have a harder time succeeding than their (for sake of argument) white, male, straight children?
Just because there exists a large number of women who can deadlift more than I can, doesn’t mean that it’s crazy to say that males, as a whole, can lift heavier things than women.
P.S. I’m sorry Hugin. That must have been painful for you.
To stick with the analogy, there should be a second screen: What country are you starting in?
United States [EASY]
I laughed at the article title, so not bad.
In discussions of privilege, “all other things being equal” should generally be understood. Obviously you’re probably in better shape in life as a rich black American than a poor white Albanian.
Oddly, since moving to Baltimore, nobody I’ve met denies the existence of privilege. Maybe it’s because it’s the kind of city where pretty young women get sexually harassed on the streets, trains, and buses every time they travel, so I can use that as a trivial example, and everyone just stops and goes “Huh. Y’know, you’re right.”
Yes, if you are willing to consider the same question posed to people from different backgrounds easier for one because it better reflects their cultural background.
Consider the relative performance of two groups on an analogy test. Both are posed the question:
Anyone familiar with baseball can recognize that the pitcher and batter have an adversarial relationship, with one trying to stop the other from achieving something. However, in this case one of the groups taking the test is from the suburbs, and the other is from the inner city. The first group have a local Little League organization, as well as large, grassy parks that are ideal for playing baseball. Meanwhile, the inner city kids have cramped play areas that lend themselves better to basketball. This disparity reaches across generations, so each group is more likely to have parents who are fans of the local sport and correspondingly know more about that sport.
So when kids from both groups are confronted with this question, who do you think will have an easier time with it?
The world is filled with stupid, brain dead video games with good titles.
How about a poor white American vs. a rich black American? How about a genius white American in a backwoods school vs. a mediocre black American in a major city school? How about Jewish white Americans vs. protestant white Americans?
The thing that annoys me most about the race dialogue in this country is that everyone should subconsciously realize that we’re talking about culture, not race, but nobody seems to be able to articulate that. I recall interviewing folks for a basic front-line IT support position. An old white guy comes in and tells me that he’s “looking for a job where he doesn’t have to think too much, just something with steps he can follow every night.” A young white guy comes in wearing, I shit you not, an untucked t-shirt and cutoff jean shorts. I despise both of these people culturally, not racially. That isn’t to say that a lot of people make judgments based more on skin color than total appearance and carriage but to paint the entire conversation as white vs. black is reductive and pointless.
Privilege isn’t a bad thing; it’s the reflection of generations of hard work. What are you supposed to do? Reject your own identity? You should simply recognize privilege for what it is and do your best to make good on it. Live a purposeful life and do something meaningful.
As always Louis C. K. Is very wise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG4f9zR5yzY
Oppressing all of those people was probably pretty hard work.