'Straight White Male' is the Real World's easiest difficulty setting

Celebrity Death: The Final Taboo.

Mixolyde wrote:

John Scalzi wrote a pretty lengthy blog post using video game metaphors as a way to describe straight, white male privilege to people who have a hard time understanding it (i.e. - straight white males). It's a pretty interesting metaphor, and fairly well thought out and described in the article.

He does mention wealth several times as one of a "player's" starting stats and how it affects the game, and several people discuss it in the comments in more detail. Some commenters attempt to make a case that wealth trumps straight white male, and not vice versa, which is an interesting topic, too.

Also, people raise the question of what should be done about this issue, above and beyond awareness.

Thoughts?

These sorts of articles are really great for people who believe the same thing so they can pat themselves on the back and talk about how progressive and thoughtful they are. It doesn't change anyone's point of view and it doesn't want a discussion. I don't like this point of view because it, and the people who peddle it, believe that race, sex, and sexual orientation are the only variables that matter. My wife was asian, female, and comes from wealth and I mean, she had a butler and driver wealth not this "i grew up in overland park" wealth. She came to the United States and had immediate access to the Taiwanese Student Association, Asian American associations, female associations, Chinese Student Scholar Association, and all sorts of support groups. She could have moved anywhere in the United States and day 1 has a safety net built in to support and help her. She needed none of that help. She got her job with the CPA firm because her father. I got my internship with Goldman Sachs because her father knew the head of the HK office.

I think financial background is far more important than someones race, sex, or sexual orientation. I don't fall for the white guilt that somehow because of generations past misdeeds that I'm supposed to be held accountable for beliefs I've never had and never directly benefited from. There are far more variables in life than these three things and we need to stop thinking that, today, this minute, those are what matters. In the past they were extremely vital and held people back. But, we aren't there anymore. We need to look at what we can do in the future and talking about "white privilege" and when someone disagrees, the immediate response is "well your privileged position allows you to disagree, but me, who is so much more above it than you can see this"

All these articles do is get people, like me, defensive, and doesn't change my mind. But, it makes people who already agree with this feel much more superior and I guess that's fine. But don't act like this is for anyone in the gaming community and he's trying to change anyone's mind.

Seth wrote:

Celebrity Death: The Final Taboo.

Speaking ill of the recently dead: A reasonable and long accepted social taboo.

Oso wrote:

I think it is more complex than that and I'm more likely to cut Scalzi slack, but I see where Bloo is coming from.

To be clear, I am extremely unforgiving about how I perceive tone and intent on article like this, and I recognize that. As I mentioned earlier, this (my take on it) is not something I am trying to put out there as the only way to read it.

Bloo Driver wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but you did know who John Scalzi was before you made your comments, right?

This has become some sort of amazing Escher staircase back on itself of the model of white male privilege thought patterns. I couldn't have known this and also come to the same conclusion? I can't even begin to guess if you're asking me this in seriousness or not!

No, you can know who he is and come to the same conclusion you did. It just seems weird to say this:

I'd like to add that personally I get really annoyed and sometimes even offended when people think that they can ride the current social trend towards going "see I'm doing/saying GEEKY THINGS! LOOK!" to pass things off as suddenly interesting. It's horrible that people are pandering to such a trendy thing and thinking it's such a good strategy.

And this:

It doesn't change the fact that the article's premise was a thin, poorly-delivered pander that's really just there to cash in on the current "I'm such a geek!!!!" social trend.

About John Scalzi. That's the part that people are confused about, specifically.

You can argue that Scalzi is pandering to his audience by using geeky metaphors to discuss the concept of privilege without actually putting forward any solutions as a way of drawing attention to himself as the Most Enlightened White Guy in the heap. That's what you've done, and it's a fair criticism to make even if I don't agree.

However, that got mixed in with your comments suggesting that this was somehow a cash-in on some social trend where people are proclaiming geekery in order to get attention. Scalzi might be playing to his audience, but it's the audience he's always had and he's written what we would have regardless of whatever broader social trends might be occurring.

You say this:

While it seems that you guys have decided "pandering" implies "false presentation", that's not really the case.

But it was your first addendum comment that created that confusion of what you meant by "pandering."


Seth wrote:

Stop pissing in Scalzi's fans' cheerios, Bloo!

Not really. I'm not a fan of Scalzi at all. Not sure I've ever read anything written by him. My interest is primarily in (as above) dissecting where miscommunication happened here. I don't really have a dog in this fight one way or another.

Oso wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

I won't deny he's stirring up the game community with a controversial post. But that's not pandering.

The potential source of the pandering is that he's giving the {Scalzi-Wheaton-consortium-of-sensitive-new-aged-guys-on-the-Internet} yet another reason to pat themselves (ourselves) on the back. The danger in writing a post like this is that structurally, it is indistinguishable from man-splaining. The post assumes that Scalzi (and those who agree with him) are the "good" kind of straight white dudes because they understand.

At least for me, when I read the post I felt good about myself for being an enlightened feminist man who, while heterosexual, is not hetero-normative. If one were to assume that spreading that kind of feeling to people like me was the main point of posting the article, then that is textbook pandering. I think it is more complex than that and I'm more likely to cut Scalzi slack, but I see where Bloo is coming from.

This, and Ulairi's complaints, are, I think, more or less exactly what Bloo was driving at, but it got mixed up by some asides about a social trend.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

You say this:

While it seems that you guys have decided "pandering" implies "false presentation", that's not really the case.

But it was your first addendum comment that created that confusion of what you meant by "pandering."

And I can see the implication, which is why I should have been clearer. My point is that he took something outside of the nerd monkeysphere and "geeked it up!!! LOL!" in order to sell it to an audience. It is a trend, and in this case, despite where he starts from with his background, it definitely seemed to be a grab at using that social trend.

Ulairi wrote:

I think financial background is far more important than someones race, sex, or sexual orientation. I don't fall for the white guilt that somehow because of generations past misdeeds that I'm supposed to be held accountable for beliefs I've never had and never directly benefited from. There are far more variables in life than these three things and we need to stop thinking that, today, this minute, those are what matters. In the past they were extremely vital and held people back. But, we aren't there anymore. We need to look at what we can do in the future and talking about "white privilege" and when someone disagrees, the immediate response is "well your privileged position allows you to disagree, but me, who is so much more above it than you can see this"

All these articles do is get people, like me, defensive, and doesn't change my mind. But, it makes people who already agree with this feel much more superior and I guess that's fine. But don't act like this is for anyone in the gaming community and he's trying to change anyone's mind.

I think this illustrates Bloo's comments pretty well. The article does nothing to move the discussion forward for those who deny the existence of white privilege, it exists as a feelgood essay that I am labelling fan-nonfiction. or textual masturbation, I haven't decided.

For what it's worth, I liked the analogy, but I agree that it won't be changing any minds on the topic. Which I assume by Scalzi's first line was his intent.

So the follow up question: "how does one illustrate the concept of privilege to those ignorant of or hostile to it?" is never broached.

Likely cause it's easier to write fan nonfic than change people's minds. I'm doing it right now, in fact. Feels good, man.

I know I'm going to get attacked for this, and I mean this in a respectful way, but is this how you liberal arts guys actually talk to each other? I went to 4 years of university, and have two graduate degrees and none of the time have any of the people I hang out with and that includes gay people, women, minorities and all of that ever had any conversation like this at all. I didn't even know what " hetero-normative" was until Oso said it. Now, I may be a complete idiot (and the evidence supports this position best) but I feel like you guys live in a completely different planet than I do. And my passive observation seems that this is a very "artsy" or "liberal artsy" topic that you guys sit around discuss this stuff. Where did the interest come from? I don't think there is anything wrong and I'm not doing the stereotypical "I was a mathematics, engineering, science, or accounting major" put off (though I am two of those things) and I know that some of you could have a similar background and engage in topics like this, but I mean, in general, it seems people from the art/liberal arts this is a big topic of discussion. I just feel like I must be the most backwards person on the planet but if it wasn't for the internet and this forum, I think I would have gone through my whole life without ever having these topics enter my worldview at all and I have lived in Hong Kong, China, been to Europe, and Taiwan extensively so it's not like I'm not well traveled and I read a lot to, so it's not like I'm some dullard who never picked up a book. My assumption that in college you guys on that side of the fence had to take classes that covered this sort of material and it just suck with you. I think boogle and I need to get some controversial topics going.

Bloo Driver wrote:
Oso wrote:

I think it is more complex than that and I'm more likely to cut Scalzi slack, but I see where Bloo is coming from.

To be clear, I am extremely unforgiving about how I perceive tone and intent on article like this, and I recognize that. As I mentioned earlier, this (my take on it) is not something I am trying to put out there as the only way to read it.

I wouldn't have seen that perspective if you hadn't explicitly pointed it out, so I'm saying thank you. You took some heat for it, but I learned something.

Ulari's point is also well taken. One of our missions where I work is to teach the benefits of diversity. We are located in one of the more homogeneous parts of the US and so it is a HUGE struggle to teach a nuanced understanding of privilege and culture without coming across as saying "You should feel guilt and shame for being who you are. Ethnic and sexual minorities are better than you are." Of course, living and working around a lot of people who come from different backgrounds and share different perspectives will cure this kind of simplistic reasoning quickly. But this is a homogeneous community and we can't send everyone into New York, Chicago, or LA for a couple of years. Barring that kind of real-life experience of living and working around a variety of people, folks from a homogeneous area need something to break the ready assumption that what is familiar to them is normal for everyone. I really wish there was a magic pill people could take so that they realize that they are weird, just like everyone else.

Ulairi wrote:

I know I'm going to get attacked for this, and I mean this in a respectful way, but is this how you liberal arts guys actually talk to each other?

To be fair, this is actually an extremely big topic in economics and business management. Has been for awhile.

I can understand that sitting down and actually sorting through it is not exactly in the life experience or interest of a lot of people, though.

Well, I'm just saying it's not all liberal arts "we have nothing else in our skillset than to talk about feelings" stuff.

Bloo Driver wrote:
Ulairi wrote:

I know I'm going to get attacked for this, and I mean this in a respectful way, but is this how you liberal arts guys actually talk to each other?

To be fair, this is actually an extremely big topic in economics and business management. Has been for awhile.

I can understand that sitting down and actually sorting through it is not exactly in the life experience or interest of a lot of people, though.

business management and (some) economics are squishy. That's why I segmented the math, engineering, science and accounting from the rest because from my experience people in those disciplines tend to be similar to one and other. (in general)

EDIT: Maybe it's an empathy issue? When I hear this stuff, I am like "So? What am I supposed to do?" and maybe I'm not supposed to do "anything" but just understand? It's not that people like me are uncaring or anything it's just our minds think of trying to solve things. I am not a good writer so maybe this point isn't coming through well and doesn't make any sense.

Seth wrote:
Ulairi wrote:

I think financial background is far more important than someones race, sex, or sexual orientation. I don't fall for the white guilt that somehow because of generations past misdeeds that I'm supposed to be held accountable for beliefs I've never had and never directly benefited from. There are far more variables in life than these three things and we need to stop thinking that, today, this minute, those are what matters. In the past they were extremely vital and held people back. But, we aren't there anymore. We need to look at what we can do in the future and talking about "white privilege" and when someone disagrees, the immediate response is "well your privileged position allows you to disagree, but me, who is so much more above it than you can see this"

All these articles do is get people, like me, defensive, and doesn't change my mind. But, it makes people who already agree with this feel much more superior and I guess that's fine. But don't act like this is for anyone in the gaming community and he's trying to change anyone's mind.

I think this illustrates Bloo's comments pretty well. The article does nothing to move the discussion forward for those who deny the existence of white privilege, it exists as a feelgood essay that I am labelling fan-nonfiction. or textual masturbation, I haven't decided.

For what it's worth, I liked the analogy, but I agree that it won't be changing any minds on the topic. Which I assume by Scalzi's first line was his intent.

So the follow up question: "how does one illustrate the concept of privilege to those ignorant of or hostile to it?" is never broached.

Likely cause it's easier to write fan nonfic than change people's minds. I'm doing it right now, in fact. Feels good, man.

Then why isn't is just an essay that it failed at what it set out to do? (Which is what I thought when I read it.) Why does it have to be pandering?

Bloo Driver wrote:

Well, I'm just saying it's not all liberal arts "we have nothing else in our skillset than to talk about feelings" stuff.

I didn't mean it that way at all but I can see how it comes across that way. There is a bias among the EMS fields but I think that mainly comes from the experience of how school is so different between the colleges.

kazooka wrote:
Seth wrote:
Ulairi wrote:

I think financial background is far more important than someones race, sex, or sexual orientation. I don't fall for the white guilt that somehow because of generations past misdeeds that I'm supposed to be held accountable for beliefs I've never had and never directly benefited from. There are far more variables in life than these three things and we need to stop thinking that, today, this minute, those are what matters. In the past they were extremely vital and held people back. But, we aren't there anymore. We need to look at what we can do in the future and talking about "white privilege" and when someone disagrees, the immediate response is "well your privileged position allows you to disagree, but me, who is so much more above it than you can see this"

All these articles do is get people, like me, defensive, and doesn't change my mind. But, it makes people who already agree with this feel much more superior and I guess that's fine. But don't act like this is for anyone in the gaming community and he's trying to change anyone's mind.

I think this illustrates Bloo's comments pretty well. The article does nothing to move the discussion forward for those who deny the existence of white privilege, it exists as a feelgood essay that I am labelling fan-nonfiction. or textual masturbation, I haven't decided.

For what it's worth, I liked the analogy, but I agree that it won't be changing any minds on the topic. Which I assume by Scalzi's first line was his intent.

So the follow up question: "how does one illustrate the concept of privilege to those ignorant of or hostile to it?" is never broached.

Likely cause it's easier to write fan nonfic than change people's minds. I'm doing it right now, in fact. Feels good, man.

Then why isn't is just an essay that it failed at what it set out to do? (Which is what I thought when I read it.) Why does it have to be pandering?

Well, to me, it is pandering because I think he wrote the article to appeal to people who already agree with him feel more superior to people that don't. IT's like when the rock band talks about how awesome "insert city" here is and it's so much better than "insert city" in milwaukee, bands love to talk trash about Chicago because Milwaukee people eat that up. It's pandering.

Ulairi wrote:
Bloo Driver wrote:

Well, I'm just saying it's not all liberal arts "we have nothing else in our skillset than to talk about feelings" stuff.

I didn't mean it that way at all but I can see how it comes across that way. There is a bias among the EMS fields but I think that mainly comes from the experience of how school is so different between the colleges.

Sorry I didn't mean to imply you were trying to be insulting or dismissive. I get that you're saying "look some people go study topics where examining social interaction is a big deal, but I missed out on this and it confounds me." My counterpoint was just that it expands to other spheres!

kazooka wrote:

Then why isn't is just an essay that it failed at what it set out to do? (Which is what I thought when I read it.) Why does it have to be pandering?

Because... I thought it was both of those things? If I said melting ice felt wet and cold, I don't know if someone would ask me why I didn't just say I thought it was cold.

Ulairi wrote:

EDIT: Maybe it's an empathy issue? When I hear this stuff, I am like "So? What am I supposed to do?" and maybe I'm not supposed to do "anything" but just understand? It's not that people like me are uncaring or anything it's just our minds think of trying to solve things. I am not a good writer so maybe this point isn't coming through well and doesn't make any sense.

This is somewhat on the mark I think. In fact, my main problem with these kinds of articles is that awareness/understanding seems to be their only goal. Which then leads to the air of superiority because they're so aware.

There is something everyone can do: stop self-identifying as either male or white (or anything else, for that matter). It is a subtle shift in world view and it may seem like it's pointless and unhelpful. To understand how it helps, one has to understand that the world is made up of individuals, and you are yourself one of those individuals. Changing others can be monumental, even impossible, but changing yourself is always possible. To start changing the world, change yourself.

The core thrust of this effort is to eventually stop this thought process in most of the population:

"I am normal."
"I am white."
"White is normal."

It is almost impossible to stop "I am normal," because you can't know what you don't know. If you have not been exposed to something, you can't know that you don't know it, and you simply assume that how you are and what you see are normal (because that's how the human brain works, I suppose).

Thus, it makes more sense to stop the second assumption in the thought process: "I am X."

LarryC wrote:

It is almost impossible to stop "I am normal," because you can't know what you don't know.

Couldn't agree less with your post, and this part in particular. The fact that I don't know what everyone else is like is exactly why I can not say "I am normal."

Ulairi wrote:

EDIT: Maybe it's an empathy issue? When I hear this stuff, I am like "So? What am I supposed to do?" and maybe I'm not supposed to do "anything" but just understand? It's not that people like me are uncaring or anything it's just our minds think of trying to solve things. I am not a good writer so maybe this point isn't coming through well and doesn't make any sense.

This is a GREAT topic. It's so f*cking rare for a discussion about privilege to get to this point (see: previous 2 pages and countless locked threads) that I would be very interested in what others' thoughts are. What is the responsibility of a straight white male conscious of his privilege?

SixteenBlue wrote:
LarryC wrote:

It is almost impossible to stop "I am normal," because you can't know what you don't know.

Couldn't agree less with your post, and this part in particular. The fact that I don't know what everyone else is like is exactly why I can not say "I am normal."

I'd counter that you only say that with respect to things which you know have different normative standards elsewhere. Chances are you have standards which you will defend as "normal" or "right" in some way or another. I could be wrong with you as an individual, but I think that it's a lot harder to teach "I am not normal" to a large segment of the population.

To test: how do you feel about eating other people?

Ulairi wrote:

When I hear this stuff, I am like "So? What am I supposed to do?" and maybe I'm not supposed to do "anything" but just understand?

That's a huge part of it.

All the time on the internet and unfortunately in real life too, I hear valid concerns of minorities being dismissed by privileged people without really listening. Oh, women are upset about their portrayal in comic books? It's not really a problem, look, see, the men are idealized too, it's all in your head. These minorities are complaining that non-whites still don't get promoted as often as white people? Well, gee, I doubt those people are trying to be racist in this day and age, I'm sure it's just because they're not as qualified. And the list goes on and on.

Being aware of privilege means that when a member of a less-privileged group has a complaint, you don't immediately dismiss it as an overreaction, or irrational, or not really as big of a problem as they claim. Sure, sometimes people overreact, but it's important to listen carefully to their argument and consider that yes, even though this problem isn't immediately apparent to me, maybe it is as important as they say.

EDIT: I'm not saying you personally do those things. I'm saying it's one of the reason that making people aware of privilege is important.

LarryC wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:
LarryC wrote:

It is almost impossible to stop "I am normal," because you can't know what you don't know.

Couldn't agree less with your post, and this part in particular. The fact that I don't know what everyone else is like is exactly why I can not say "I am normal."

I'd counter that you only say that with respect to things which you know have different normative standards elsewhere. Chances are you have standards which you will defend as "normal" or "right" in some way or another. I could be wrong with you as an individual, but I think that it's a lot harder to teach "I am not normal" to a large segment of the population.

To test: how do you feel about eating other people?

You're right, this may just be me as an individual.

In this particular case I know enough about human cultures across the world to know that eating humans is not normal. I don't equate right and normal though. I can say for my culture, eating other people is not considered right.

Please don't make that a Christianity / communion gotcha. Please.

Seth wrote:

Please don't make that a Christianity / communion gotcha. Please.

?? I'm Catholic, like LarryC and I don't see how you got a gotcha from his post.

Communion is a sanitized version of cannibalism. Don't you guys read the Bible?

Seth wrote:

Communion is a sanitized version of cannibalism. Don't you guys read the Bible?

I knew what you were getting at but I don't see how you thought he was playing a "Gotcha" game.

Seth:

Er, huh? Where'd that come from? There is a culture in which eating some of the remains of your enemy as a symbolic gesture of respect as a warrior is considered normal. I forget where - I believe it's a Pacific culture in New Zealand or some such.

SixteenBlue:

Another test, less obvious: What do you think is not normal about your body? Hair color? Eye color? Number of limbs? Number of toes? Absence or presence of nose? Head count?

Ulairi wrote:
Seth wrote:

Communion is a sanitized version of cannibalism. Don't you guys read the Bible?

I knew what you were getting at but I don't see how you thought he was playing a "Gotcha" game.

I was envisioning some moment where he got 16Blue to say "cannibalism is wrong" then triumphantly exclaimed "but what about all the Christians who use it in their worship??"

This was not the case, so my apologies.

LarryC wrote:

Another test, less obvious: What do you think is not normal about your body? Hair color? Eye color? Number of limbs? Number of toes? Absence or presence of nose? Head count?

Normal needs context? For a Caucasian? For a human? For a 29 year old white man with Irish, Italian, and Eastern European heritage?

The last 4 I can answer for any group of humans, the rest depends.