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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.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 6th, 2013 04:22 pm (UTC)
I tend to think of it in GURPS terms--various social attritutes give you disadvantages.

The problem with the issue is that regardless of how you describe the problem there's going to be disagreement over the remedies. A lot of people think just acknowledging the problem exists means you should accede to their proposed solution. Doesn't follow.

Sure, lots of black boys get a raw deal in the USA. Admitting them to colleges where they don't have the academic background to do the classwork makes things worse, not better.
Sep. 7th, 2013 12:43 pm (UTC)
Very true...from my standpoint my thinking is that what matters more than the social aspect are things like money, willpower, intelligence. Not to mention that just being born in the US, no matter the race or wealth, is a HUGE advantage against the rest of the world. Here, even if you are dirt poor, you will get an education, have access to fair and impartial courts, have police that are generally uncorrupt, have fire service that will put out the fire no matter if you have paid your taxes or not, and have a national gov't that, for the most part, leaves you alone and lets you succeed or fail. Compare that to most nations and being American is not just a lower difficult level...its like we are playing chutes and ladders and everyone else is playing russian roulette.

As an example...I would not even have been allowed to have been born in China (3rd child). What about Columbia...it wasn't too bad when I was born, but the height of the drug war was during my prime military years. Soviet Union? I visted there in 85...no thanks. How about Saudi Arabia, or Iraq, or Syrian...for a very select few its pretty nice,but for most its crushing poverty and oppression. I suppose I would have been OK in Rhodesia, or South Africa...for a while...but who knows.

There is a hastag on twitter called #FirstWorldProblems and they complain about things like forgetting their cell phone charger, or cracking their smartphone screen, or deciding which college offer to accept.

In the end though, I do really think that its a function of short sighted perception. Its about what do I get out of life. My parents, and my wife's talked about how they were going to give us more than they had...and we have given our kids more than we had. I think that too many people are more concenred what they get as opposed to helping others (even their kids). It means that we have lost a seminal drive to make the US better and bigger all the time. Its not a bad thing to know of our faults as a country, but to swell on them...to teach them and raise a couple of generations of kids who are more concenred with those faults than with all the good we have done...that just hastens the fall of the Pax Americana.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )