David Broussard (dbroussa) wrote,
David Broussard

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Why John Scalzi is wrong about White Straight Male as a dificulty level

Recently Hugo award winning author John Scalzi wrote a blog piece about how to explain "white priviledge" without using the word priviledge.  His basic point is that if life were a video game that being a Straight While Male would be like playing on the Easy difficulty.  I disagree with him on a number of levels most notably the level of selfishness that it alludes to.  I would note that jordan179 had some thoughts on this in regards to a similar sentiment posted in another persons journal.

To play inside his analogy, the question becomes, what amount of difference does playing as a S-W-M make as opposed to say getting more points assigned to INT, or WIL, or starting cash?  The answer, of course, depends upon the level of selfishness of the individual which I call the victimhood index. With a high victimhood index, one sees one's failings as the fault of the difficulty level, or a bad starting character, in other words...they are the victim of another person or of fate itself.   A low index, on the other hand, has the person looking at how they have performed with what they were given and recognizing that their life and their happiness is truly what they make of it.  A low victimhood index teands to result in a more successful outcome long term because the individual realizes that sometimes the long play is to give your children more starting cash, or a higher EDU modifier, even if that means that you don't get everything you want.  In short, to continue the gaming analogy, I may get killed in this team deathmatch, but I'm gaining XP for my account and eventually I will be better.

Victimhood index is really a measure of selfishness where the individual's current well being is more important thatn the future well being of others (namely their kids).  I look at my Grandmothers as an example. One of them worked as a live in domestic while her Mom and Sister raised her two kids after her husband abandoned her. She didnit without assistance from anyone outaide of family.  She eventually was able to get a factory job closer to home, but she scrimped, saved, and lived frugally. She demanded that my Mom got good grades and sent her to college even though it meant more sacrifice for her. That enabled my Mom to not only attend college, but to eventually earn a Masters Degree and raise three children who all went to college.  My other Grandmother raised her family during the height of the Great Depression.  While my Grandfather was a Fireman he often got paid in script (essentially an IOU from the city).  They made ends meet by growing their own food, and taking in boarders.  That sacrifice had her children go to college and her grandkids as well.

My life...my priviledge if you will, is in large part due to the sacrifices of my parents, my grandparents, and back many generations.  I treasure those sacrifices because it has given me a chance to give my children more than I had...and to call that Straight-White-Male Easy Difficulty insults those sacrifices.  We choose what to make of our lives.

I did have one other point I developed at lunch with a friend of mine today.  We were talking over this issue and she brought up an interpretation that I think also has value.  I won't do this complete justice, but the essence was that we can choose to allow the "patriarchy" to control us, or we can realize that it is an illusion and control ourselves.  She also had a nice insight into the selfishness that I alluded to earlier.  It shows a lack of realization in something much larger than oneself.  This could be religious (the belief in an afterlife), or the desire to leave behind a legacy (better for children), but if you lack that belief...all that is left is satisfying yourself in this life.
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