Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is

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.

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.

Comments

10 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Mike H,

    On the same tack as Louis C.K.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  2. John B.,

    “…choose the difficulty setting for the game. Got it?”

    No, I don’t get it. You can choose to be straight, white, or male?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 13

    • This is addressed in the article.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

    • John B, try reading the article before commenting next time.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

      • MacCrocodile,

        I’ll comment on whatever I want to comment on!

        This article is great and everything (probably), but how does it address the current financial crisis in the EU?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

    • John B.,

      [ed. Deleted. Work it out on your own and don't waste our time.]

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Hrimgrimnir,

    I popped my head out to take a look around before coming out, good thing too – I would have been born in Catholic!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  4. McGee,

    I’m a straight white male, and not only can I not get hired, I can’t even get a call for an interview.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

  5. Rick,

    Just need to add one qualifier – that’s wealthy straight white male. Or, as I’ve also heard it said: to succeed in life you must choose your grandparents very carefully.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  6. scumbad,

    [ed. another person who can't read an article.]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1


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