Thursday, May 17, 2012

But It's Not My Fault and Besides....

So John Scalzi wrote another post.

It contained an analogy which attempted to explain straight white male privilege to straight white males.

You may guess what happened next. Yep. The internets exploded.

I will not attempt to address the many layers of FAIL which followed from many SWM and their lackeys. (Though as Scalzi notes here, many SWM did not, in fact FAIL, so, yay. Though, really, my response to that has to be -- as it was when my brother shouted at me that men had "given" women the vote, so what else did we want -- uh, dudes, you want a cookie for that? Seriously?)

No, what I want to address is a response I kept seeing in the comments to the original post: SWMs and their lackeys who kept saying something like this: Okay, even granted I have something like this privilege you say exists -- which I don't accept, and which I didn't create, so it's totally not my fault, even if it exists, I'm just the accidental beneficiary of it, right? So what do you expect me to do about it?

Like, okay, I just happen to get put on third base in every single contest, and all those other folks are stuck in the parking lot, can't even get through the gates. Not my fault! I didn't ask for this privilege. What do you want me to do about it?

And they seem to think that settles something. Like they've refuted an argument. Like they can't be expected to do anything about the problem of the uneven playing field.

The fact is, if the playing field is unequal, and you are getting an unfair advantage -- if, as a straight white male (or a straight while female, for instance) -- over other candidates for a job, or slots in a journal, or publications slots in a magazine, or access to education, you can do things about that.

Do them.

If you run a journal or magazine, actively seek out voices that are not SWM/SWF. And by actively, I mean advertise and email and find writers who aren't SWM/SWF. Because it's a fact that writers give up hope of submitting to a journal when all they see getting published are the same dozen SWM names.

If you're on a hiring committee, do the same. If you run a scholarship, or have access to those who run a scholarship, or if you give grants, do that.

Oh, but this discriminates against SWM! No one is actively recruiting SWM! No one is advocating for SWMs! Yeah, sorry. Only the entire society advocates for SWM. See starting on third base, above. All we're doing here is leveling the playing field. All we're doing here is removing the privilege. I admit it does feel to SWM like being discriminated against. Having to give up the advantage you have always counted on can feel that way. It's why cops get so pissed if we don't cringe and grin and shuffle when they're giving us a speeding ticket -- they're so used to being treated like they're the Lords of the City. Not being granted the privilege stings.

In short: yes, there is something we can do it level the playing fields. It's not even that hard. (Some) SWM men and their allies are acting as though there is nothing to be done. Why? Because they don't want those things done. Why? That's also not hard to understand. They don't want to give up their privilege. Well, who would?

Don't wait for them to give it up. As MLK Jr said, the privileged class never willingly gives up its privilege. We have to take it.


Athena Andreadis said...

Now imagine the responses Scalzi would have got to this piece if he had been a woman.

Athena Andreadis said...

Or, better yet, don't.

delagar said...

That privilege. Yes.