Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Lowest Difficulty Setting is "Rich," not "Male"


I'm probably not going to discuss this, because people basically cannot be reasoned with on this point. Different types of people have different advantages, and there's no doubt about it that certain important advantages attach to being white, and certain important advantages attache to being male.

But, having had to listen to such lectures many times from e.g. females who had basically every advantage over me--wealth, highly-educated parents, educations at the best schools, and on top of that, affirmative action advantages when we were competing for jobs--I have to tell you, I'm not 100% behind the idea that I need to admit that I got the best deal there. It's an empirical question, and I'd be eager to get the straight dope on this. I certainly appreciate the advantages I have as a white male. I know things are tougher in lots of ways for women and non-white people. But, having grown up on a farm in the rural Missouri Ozarks, having gone to an extremely crappy college because I was the first person in the family to go to college at all, and we didn't know any better...having clawed my way up the academic ladder, only to then be told that e.g. females who had every advantage from day one still deserved additional advantages over me...well... I know that, on top of everything else, I'm supposed to happily and enthusiastically admit that the preponderance of illicit advantages still worked out to my advantage...  (I'm usually told this by leftist females who got all those advantages mentioned above...)

But I have to say...

It's just not obvious to me.

The opposite isn't obvious either.

Neither is obvious.

It's funny that I've often thought of this in gaming terms as well, though I thought of it like this:

Suppose you can choose to be instantiated as a rich, urban or suburban female, with successful, well-educated, professional parents, or a poor, rural male with uneducated parents. You want to win the game...which route do you choose? Choose the latter, and you're a fool is what I suspect...

Look, it's not that an issue like this can be settled in blog posts. It's not like I don't understand the burdens born by females and e.g. blacks. I'm not that oblivious to the ways of the world. I don't tend to see things from a white, male perspective or any such thing. If your options are white male or other, choose white male in the game of life. But if your choice is more fine-grained...if you can choose, say, white female from professional family rather than white male from the farm...well, I suggest that the choice is, at the very least, not so obvious as some on the left might have you believe.

Having been the rural white male who's argued for a roughly liberal position most of my life, who's fought his way up, who's gone out of his way to understand the challenges faced by non-whites, who's seen affirmative action give the already-advantaged additional advantages over him, and who, nevertheless, remains committed to the liberal ideals in rather bugs me to still get lectured to on the subject of my failure to appreciate my alleged advantages.

That is all.


Blogger The Mystic said...

Dude, in spite of your tentative nature, I put forth that there is an abundance of evidence for your position. I mean would a rich white female have wasted her $10 on an obviously crappy Steam game?

Fuck no. And that shit builds up. Pretty soon, she's on her way to college and we're sobbing our way through DinoZombie Attack 4.

We got it rough, man. The problem is, that y chromosome is a disadvantage which women can never face. They are simply not capable of understanding that sinking feeling in your stomach when you watch that load bar fail to progress. Like ignorantly sitting in a theater awaiting the new vampire movie, knowledge of which you had obtained solely from that ad you just saw five seconds ago, your snap decision has condemned you to an unholy punishment.

"God damn it. I knew it," you might say, but it's too late. You look around yourself, you go to the Internet for support, and quickly find that your companions in this venture are incapable of even the vaguest attempt at serious communication, for they uniformly incapacitated, be it on account of youth or sheer stupidity, and have made this purchase in accordance with their nature.

What woman, I ask, can understand this?

I'd choose rich female.

8:24 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Not to mention March Madness. That shit ruins like a month for me every year, if you include conference tournaments. That's 1/12th of my life! Imagine what I could accomplish...

9:52 PM  
Anonymous StatRex said...

DinoZombie Attack 4! When is that going to be released?!

10:28 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

The defense rests.

10:30 PM  
Blogger matthew christman said...

Where does the whole "might get raped" thing fit into the empirical nexus?

4:12 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

That would be one of the clear disadvantages clearly acknowledged in the post.

6:34 AM  
Blogger C-Nihilist said...

i don't know how affirmative action works. does it really come into play when you're up against someone richer, presumably more well connected, and with a "better" education than you? i just assumed AA was more of a tie-breaker between two "equal" candidates.

i agree the lowest difficulty setting is rich. better yet, powerful. but that's kind of a no brainer. it's easy to see that most of the power rests with rich white guys. so insofar as you are oppressed by privileged rich ladies, so too do you oppress an excess of women, just by dint of persevering within the system.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

AA is sometimes used as a tiebreaker. Other times, the Dean tells you "you need to hire a [person of type x]." Other times it's in between. Sometimes the dean will give you extra money if you have a chance to hire a person of a certain type. Sometimes the department decides "we will hire a [person of type x] unless absolutely no qualified [person of type x] applies." AA, as I've seen it in the academy, is neither as bad as conservatives think, nor as innocuous and wonderful as liberals seem to think.

Nope, I don't oppress women by merely pursuing my career. It's saying things like that that makes the left kooky.

9:24 AM  
Blogger C-Nihilist said...

please note, while i borrowed the language that makes the left sound kooky, that i was not saying you are an oppressor. (only insofar as you yourself are oppressed.)

9:56 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, it's not the personal point I'm really interested in. Rather, in general, males do not oppress females by pursing their careers. SOME males oppress females by, y'know, oppressing them--undervaluing their abilities and contributions, harassing them, etc.

It's important to distinguish between actual oppression and hollow, unfalsifiable, lefty fantasies about all white males being oppressors by their very existence.

10:00 AM  
Blogger C-Nihilist said...

you're right. i agree, and observe the distinction. the hyperbole was just silliness.

but what we do have a system of hierarchy which affords advantages and disadvantages unequally. in pursuing a career, one competes for a position of power within that hierarchy.

you seem to be arguing for a more perfect form of meritocracy, rather than one where position is hereditary, or there are thumbs (like AA) on the scale. it may not be especially useful, but i'm arguing from a distaste of hierarchy in the first place. so tend to be concerned with my role in it and the effects of my striving, more than, say, the lay of the land. (it is what it is.)

12:38 PM  
Blogger C-Nihilist said...

meant to extend my last point out, that in examining my role in hierarchy, that i feel my advantages and disadvantages are owe less to maleness than to overarching factors of circumstance, like money, heredity, history and the state of existing power structures.

i don't think feminist and racial perspectives of the very same factors are wrong, in terms of who has held and still largely holds the greatest advantage.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

I skipped this the first time around, because I was busy, but (despite my now tainted opinion) I disagree with you.

Even though the percentage or racists and sexists and homophobes continues to decrease, it is still not a non-zero number. This means that those who fall into a non-white, non-straight and/or non-male category on a regular basis.

Often these people are in positions of power but are smart enough not to get caught acting on their bias.

Other times these people aren't in power, but you still have to deal with them. It may not seem like a big deal, but having your opinion regularly ignored because you are female (the status with which I am familiar) is both enraging and exhausting.

Every interaction with these individuals is an exercise in futility and rage--energy that should better be spent doing productive things.

You brushed off the comment about the threat of rape earlier, but that again is something that pervades the life of anyone who is female and not an idiot. It makes up the little daily decisions that you don't even think about: there's a big guy coming towards me, is he a threat? There's someone walking behind me. If I walk faster, do they speed up as well? Is there somewhere I can stop and let them get past me without being obvious? Where are the lights in this parking lot, in case it's dark when I leave?

These aren't even conscious thoughts anymore, but they pervade every part of your life.

Yeah, it sucks that you and other nice guys automatically get lumped in with the jerks, but you all don't wear signs saying, "NOT AN ASSHOLE" so the default (at least for me) is to assume someone is a threat until they have proven otherwise.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

...and I completely forgot what made me come back to this post.

It was seeing this in my blog feed:

Immediately followed by this:

11:09 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I take your comments here very seriously, RMK.

But I didn't mean to brush off the rape point. I acknowledged that being male comes with certain advantages--way less rape being one of them...unless, I guess, you end up in prison.

However, let me point out that wealth makes rape less likely, too. Apparently half of all rapes are committed against low-income women (specifically, the lowest 1/3 of income).

Wealth is such an enormous advantage that it even has profound effects on rape, which one might think is the paradigm disadvantage that women face.

I'm going to say some more stuff about this in another post, and try to see whether everybody here can't figure this out.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

I'd be very curious to see those statistics on rape. Most of the middle class girls I know who were raped or sexually assaulted never reported the assaults, for the most part because they knew their assailants, or (as happened in my case) because they were too drunk to know what was happening.

But that's the second point I made.

The first point is that sexism and all the other -isms tend to fall into the category of "nibbled to death by ducks" rather than the big events that get people fired (though I know people who have dealt with the later.)

It's the wear and tear of being brushed off, of being ignored, and of never knowing who is going to ignore you or your opinion, just because you lack a Y chromosome.

It's the never knowing whether strangers are a threat or not, but having to plan your life as if every male stranger you mean IS a threat.

It's the frustration of working in a culture where your technical opinion is ignored for that of a male co-worker, even if you are the more knowledgeable and educated.

My friends and I have hundreds of horror stories, of the day-to-day shit that comes from being a woman in a male dominated workplace.

Dealing with jerks--and never knowing whether a male I have to deal with is going to be one of the 10% who are horrific--is draining and disheartening, but it's there, mostly background noise, but more frequently than you'd think it comes right out and slaps you in the face.

9:11 PM  

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