Quote of the Day: playing the Game of Life on the lowest difficulty setting

As a 6 foot tall, 200 pound, greying white straight male I can assure you that the main feature of the “easy” setting is that the rest of the world gives you a certain amount of respect when you walk into the room that they tend to not give other players on “harder” settings. There is an assumption, that I know what I am doing and/or if I fail I made a “honest” mistake. The “ref’s” are less likely to call fouls and assign penalties. So, the issue is what can we do about it??? First, what I try to do is make sure that I give others the same respect they give me and I second I actively confront others who treat those on the harder settings with less respect. I view it as an obligation for having been smart enough to figure out the game is rigged.

That is a comment from Chuck Repke about 100 comments in on this post by John Scalzi, which I really recommend reading.  There’s a lot of heavy lifting on the Privilege-101 front going on in the comments.

Scalzi post via @JessamynSmith

Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, social justice

Tags: ,

10 replies

  1. I’d definitely recommend reading it (disclaimer: I’ve commented too – keep scrolling riiiight the way down, there’s a lot of comments). I admire Mr Scalzi for managing to come up with a metaphor which actually steps around the word “privilege” to put the point that the whole privilege theory encompasses and I also admire him for his willingness to sit through and moderate the discussion which results (there’s ample evidence that he’s wielding the Mallet of Loving Correction throughout the thread). Plus he’s very definite about setting the rules of discussion at the beginning of the whole thing (one of the rules is that the discussion isn’t allowed to get sidetracked into a pseudo-semiotic ramble about whether “privilege” is the right word or not – instead, we’re supposed to stick with the metaphor given).

    • I liked this comment too (about 200 comments in – SWM is abbreviation for Straight White Male):

      iiii says:
      May 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm
      “But what can I do?”
      – Buy and read at least as many works of fiction by people who are not straight white men as you do works by SWMs.
      – Listen rather than waiting to talk, and don’t interrupt people.
      – If you live with other people, figure out how many hours per week are spent on housework in your household, and readjust your schedule so that you’re doing at least your share of it. Make sure to count executive tasks, like keeping track of what’s in the pantry and whether the kids have enough clean socks, towards the total.
      – Practice the phrase, “Dude, not cool.” Trot it out whenever a fellow SWM says something homophobic, racist, sexist, or expresses other bigotry.
      – Consider the possibility that the non-SWM who is “crucifying you” because you’re a straight white guy is, in fact, speaking to you very calmly about something you *did* or something you *said,* not what you are. Consider the possibility that, in fact, they’ve understated their case because you react to criticism from non-SWMs by throwing tantrums about how you’re being HORRIBLY HORRIBLY ATTACKED.
      Already doing some or all of this? Here, have a cookie.

  2. I thought he was pretty great when the only thing I knew about him was taping bacon to his cat (briefly). This is a whole new world of awesome.

  3. The post is awesome. But some of the comments just make me mad – all the ones going on about “stop piling all the guilt on us already!!” Seriously. Everyone feels guilty sometimes about their position in life. Get over it and do something, without complaining that everyone else doesn’t tell you what to do!
    And then all those people missing the point and going “but look, this person is a SWM, but also this which makes him really unlucky!” Gah.

  4. I admire Scalzi (and he could teach hugo Schwyzer a thing or two about being a feminist ally) for trying to spread 101-level knowledge about privilege – unfortunately he is more likely to get through because he is a SWM but he seems to get that, and is trying to use it for good.

    • From the MetaFilter thread discussing Scalzi’s post:

      You know, this metaphor is going to break down with anything more than a superficial glance. Which is what metaphors do. They are inexact, and don’t typically hold up very well, because they substitute something that isn’t a thing for the thing itself.
      The thing itself is privilege. And Scalzi went with a substitution because one of the benefits of privilege is that you don’t have to think about it if you don’t want to, and can, instead, try to argue away the existence of it altogether by pulling out dictionaries and such.
      But the thing about the substitution is that same impulse is going to work differently. In order to show how inexact the parallel between role playing games and privilege is, you must discuss what privilege is. And to do that, you can’t talk about what it isn’t, or that it doesn’t exist. That defeats the fun of being contrary. No, you have to point out, for instance, that the metaphor breaks down because Scalzi failed to include third-world experiences, and that being white, straight, and first-world is an EVEN BIGGER advantage in the metaphor. In order to tear apart his metaphor, you must discuss privilege.
      posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:37 AM on May 15 [34 favorites]

  5. I was so worried for a second that John Scalzi, whose books I’ve just started reading, would turn out to be another Orson Scott Card. Happy to be wrong! *trundles happily to Amazon*

  6. And a follow-up post: A Child’s Treasury of Deletions – the lowlights of the comment thread, with the comments left after the Mallet of Loving Correction has been applied.
    Nice to see moderation in action. Most of the deletions are for either trolling, not reading the original post and deciding to comment anyway (and actually mentioning this…), misogyny/sexism, racism, homophobia, or sheer stupidity (as determined by moderator).

  7. There’s been lots of responses to Scalzi’s post online – I like this one from Dr Sheila Addison: “So What if Privilege is the Lowest Difficulty Setting?” A Response to Scalzi’s Post

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