This article uses a metaphoric system I can get behind; comparing life to a videogame. I love doing that. It opens with this line though
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.
Okay tiger, explain life to me based on my skin colour and sexual orientation – because that’s all one needs to know about a person and there’s no taboos about it. Tell me all about me and my kind. Okay we all know what the world thinks of SWM and it’s not new.
Everyone likes to imagine a hypothetical job interview in which two identical-on-paper-candidates apply but oh snap one’s white and he gets the job every time. Freakonomics actually did an experiment showing that even a black sounding name costs fake applicants the job all other things being equal. I can’t count the number of times I’ve met my exact afro-doppelganger at job interviews, college admissions, meetings at the stone-cutters lodge, etc., and crushed the poor guy every time. Worse when he’s a she. Poor Female-Afro-Doppelganger. Who’s also a lesbian.
Straight White Men are super facetious, everyone says so. You can see the point I’m making that no two people are identical. There are millions of ways someone of a different demographic could have advantages over me, and millions of people of my same demographic who have advantages over me. I’m under billions of people on the global list of who has access to what. SWM privilege on the second-to-bottom rung of the North American ladder is like having a hand fan in hell. Let’s go to something Chris Rock said that I found really inspirational though I disagree with the point he’s making. I like the idea that you gotta knock’em out, If you tie you lose. Regardless of demographic that’s great advice. Me, I’m poor, unattractive, introverted, with barely a high school education, I can’t assume I’ll coast by anybody. And the reality is anyone coasting at any level can only get by until they come up against someone who isn’t coasting.
I prefer to think of life Gattica-style; if someone can run like a champ with little effort then I’ll have to put in a lot of effort to beat them. Simply said and hard to live but it’s true. It doesn’t match our society’s concept of fair but it’s what life is. The grand demographic playing field is uneven and it will always tilt the way the powerful want it to but that doesn’t have to mean shit to anyone’s individual life. Statistics and experiments aren’t life. Relativism isn’t life. There’s just each of our goals, our successes, and our failures. And that’s our privilege as free-thinking human beings.