What do you think?
I read the article and some of the comments. I am a straight white male. I haven’t walked in anyone shoes but my own. I’ve heard this arguement before, that everyone who isn’t a straight white male is going to say we have it easier. As one of the key comments points out, however, being a straight white male is no guarantee that things beyond your control will give you a life of considerable challenge. Abuse, mental or physical illness etc. I’ve had negative assumptions made about me because of the colour of my skin. And been discriminated against because of my appearance (I have a skin disease) and economic class. I guess my response to this article is a big SO WHAT? The author takes the easiest point of attack possible (white straight males supposedly start off with advantages others don’t possess). Ok, we do. And we SWMs are all subject to prejudice, infirmity and injustice the same as everyone else. So the author stated the easy and the obvious. Congratulations, what an accomplishment.
I had a straight white male friend (who was in a sporting accident that left him disabled) who once mused he’d like to come back in his next life as a beautiful straight white female, and then listed off all the ways in which he believed these women had the easiest life on the planet. So you see, here’s a representative of what is supposed to be the most privileged position on earth stating he wishes he could come back as something else, something he believes to be more priviliged than he is. Do straight black women wish to make the same arguement about straight black men? How about Oriental gay males versus Hispanic lesbians? Should we get out the blackboard and draw up an official “Hierarchy of Oppression” chart? Is there anyone out there who, if a Genie came by and granted you three wishes, would like to change the colour of their skin or sexual orientation? And what, if anything, does the author wish anyone to do about these percieved advantages? What is the author’s intent in pointing out what it is so utterly safe and uncontroversial (amidst liberal circles, at any rate ) to point out?
Any considered viewing of the world will make it apparent that it is still a place where prejudices of all manner are prolifigate, and cross all boundaries of “race”, economics, sexual preference, religion (or lack of). And these prejudices cross lines in every direction. What has the author done here other than gotten on a high-horse and shouted out the obvious? As a SWM who has dealt with mental and physical illness, poverty, and discrimnation, I’m perfectly aware that my being black or gay or anything else may have made my situation worse. Or not. Who is to say what supposed “weakness” or “disadvantaged” condition I may have been able to turn into a strength. Or not. I’m also aware that my infirmities may have given me a sense of compassion and understanding, and a strong will towards social justice that I may otherwise have lacked.
To state that SWMs can count their skin colour and sexual orientaiton as advantages others do not possess is to single out three characteristics in a constellations of factors that will determine a comparable host of life outcomes. Three factors which no one can (and most will not choose to, even if they could) do anything about. We can, however, work to eliminate the prejudices that surround and injure us all. That would seem a more productive line of discourse than the one the author of this article is pursuing.
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