John Scalzi wrote an awesome post entitled: Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.
I highly recommend you read it – including the 800 comments.
Scalzi’s post struck a strong chord in me (who, according to his game metaphor got the hardcore setting, thanks to being female, Latina, queer).
I find it fascinating and not a little disheartening to see the same old “stop blaming me”, “what am I supposed to do about it” comments from so many straight white males. As an adjunct to that, a lot of “but my life was anything but easy because [insert reason(s) here].
Dudes: you are missing the point by miles. I don’t know if my analogy will help, but here’s an attempt: (and all my points are based on US/Western Culture)
Imagine there’s a pile of cards in play for the game called Life.
The objective is how you play during your journey, not some vague “winning” of the game, since the final outcome is the same for everybody.
Each card represents points a person can play throughout their personal journey. Points can be translated into real world advantages (jobs, money, opportunities, etc.)
At birth, each person gets 1 card to play based on the fact that s/he lives.
If you’re white, you get a second card, if male, yet another. If you are heterosexual, you get another.
Based ONLY on these criteria, at the start of the game, straight white males already have the advantage in having more cards.
No, this doesn’t mean that their entire journey through Life will be easy, simple and without roadblocks, only that they get more cards to start with. Some folks will get extra cards along the way (for money, education, other aspects of Life that affect their journey). That’s a given.
What Scalzi was pointing out that, at the start, straight, white males have more cards to play. What they do with those cards and how many other cards they get are variable.
So, we’re not blaming you for this, it’s just a statement of fact. You (the straight white male) have more cards at the beginning. You can choose to use those cards to lord it over others, or you can choose to stop, think and be inclusive.
It’s up to you.
For those of you who asked “what do you want me to do?” – I will repeat Scalzi’s answer (from the comments) – What do you want to do? It’s not my call. I am not the captain of your underpants.
If you want to sincerely know what you can do to level the playing field, I suggest you start by increasing your awareness–of your surroundings, of the language you and your friends use (do you laugh at homophobic, racist jokes or do you stop them?), of anytime you can reach out a helping hand to someone who is not a straight white male. Small steps lead to bigger ones.
Some other thoughtful posts on the same topic:
(Please note, discuss as you wish, however, like Scalzi, I have the Crossbow of Courtesy primed & loaded…aka, don’t be a dick or I shall have to shoot down your comment.)