May 18, 2012

On equality and the "easy" setting

John Scalzi, author of sci-fi books and beloved to his fans, wrote a piece on his blog recently called Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is. In it, he used a video game metaphor to describe life in the western world for a straight, white male: it's the easiest setting there is.  Being a straight, white male comes with certain benefits unheard of to those of a minority race, or gender, or sexual orientation.

And the internets went wild.  He shut off comments on the piece once they reached 800, and he policed those comments for useless, nasty vitriol.  He didn't delete someone for disagreeing with him; rather, he deleted the jerks.

I'm sure this piece has been linked to hundreds of times already, but reading it, and his follow-up here, made me want to throw my opinion out there as well.

So...I pretty much agree with Scalzi. In so many ways in this Western world, what you are can define how you are perceived, and thus the way you are treated.

Look, I'm a straight, white female. On the hierarchy of ease, I'd say that puts me in something like second or third place for the easy life. But even so, I've faced my share of doors...not necessarily closing, but certainly being harder to open. I work in technology. I used to take support calls where IT guys would ignore whatever I'd tell them, only to respond well to the exact same advice given to them when I put a male member of my team on the phone.

I'm also a chick who writes sci-fi/horror, and don't think I haven't realized my journey to publication might be a bit easier if I'd written as Liam instead of Leah. I get that. Chicks write YA romances and, well, chick lit. Not sci-fi/horror. (Unless you're Ursula Le Guin...and she has the benefit of the Coolest Name Ever on her side.) And there's nothing wrong with YA romance or chick lit. I have many friends who've gone that route. For me, though? It's just not where I feel comfortable.

Now, I get it. These are choices I've made, and they're also not exactly life or death, right? I have a job; I can write whatever the hell I want.

But again, like I said, I'm second or third in that hierarchy. I have it pretty easy.

There are people in the world who don't get to choose. There are people who have dark skin in a world which rewards light skin. There are people who love someone of the same gender as themselves, and they can't change that because that's who they are. Not what they chose. I firmly believe that.

So they immediately have a little bit of a harder life than I do. They face judgments I will never receive.  They face discrimination I will never see.

I guess what I'm trying to say is...Scalzi is right. If you disagree, that's your prerogative.

It doesn't change the fact that he's right.

1 comment:

Jen said...

I don't have anything new to say... just that I thought Scalzi came up with a great metaphor for talking about privilege. Yay for metaphors, and yay for him. =)

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