There was a time when I cringed at people saying “straight white male.” It was a strange statement to me. The kind of statement that bunched together a very large group of men together and treated their entirety as wrong.
But the more, and more I live in Asia and see how US politics is being led astray, the more I understand what the term means.
It isn’t an attack on the individual white male, like me, but it is an attack on the power that comes with being an ignorant and victim playing straight white male.
What I Think A Straight White Male Is
The tweet above is from a libertarian comedian. He equates “straight white male” to the n-word. The fuck is this fella going on about? The n-word’s origin goes back to slavery and was a word that was used to enforce that sense of social dominance in a United States that had Jim Crow Laws to remind people that they were not the same human as others.
Josh is basically what a “straight white male” is. He ignores the etymological, cultural, and historical relevancy of oppression to better serve his own needs to create a narrative of being oppressed. He is victim playing because it is easier for him – like a lot of right-leaning folks – to make sense of oppression of others on their own terms.
It’s Not About You, It’s About The Dickheads
I come from the Falls Road in Belfast. There, I’m a fenian and a tadgh. I grew up working-class for the most part and wasn’t privileged there. I could tell you stories, and I could go on all day about the struggle many in Ireland fought through history for the simple right to vote, own land, and not be burnt out of their homes, but that’s honestly not got anything to do with the term “straight white male.”
My experiences aren’t relevant to other’s experiences. It isn’t a game of who was oppressed more. It’s not about how far back in history you can go and see “everyone was oppressed at one time, why does it matter nowadays?” The answer to that question is really simple; everyone’s people, race, religion, identity etc. were oppressed at one time or another, but;
- Not everyone is still being oppressed today because of it
- Not everyone can simple move continent and remove prejudice (Foreign nationals in Taiwan)
In Ulster, I was probably part of an oppressed group of people, but in Asia, I’m what people think of when it was comes to what the ideal foreigner is; white.
In Belfast, there is a discourse that I do belong to a group of people (Irish, Catholic, nationalists) that were oppressed by society and law for a long time. Hell, even today, the Gaelic language of the Irish people is still being put down.
But here’s the truth, and here is why I recognize what a straight white male is. In Asia, I am not a fenian and that discourse does not exist here. When people see me, greet me, think of me, see me in the media, I am mostly a force for positivity. I am the guest. I come from a place that people like me were oppressed for generations, but here, nobody treats me that way.
I’m white, working-class, and come from an oppressed group of people, yet, here, none of that matters.
But, if you’re a person of color, people are going to judge you in a way that is different to a person that is white. Hence, white privilege (I know it’s way more complex than just that, but for simplicity just run with that).
Being called a straight white male isn’t about belittling you as a person. It is about recognising that oppressed or not oppressed, you’re still going to be treated, in many cases, better than most people of colour in Asia. Whether it be in the US or parts of Asia, you’re going to be treated well.
So, stop making the term straight white male about you, and understand what it means.
Stop trying to make yourself the victim
Back in 2016, the story of Hugh Mungus broke. A father of a heroin-addicted daughter had taken part in a discussion on increasing the police presence in Seattle. He was mocked and jeered by idiots that tried to suggest that being white was the problem. Turns out, he is Hispanic. Whilst trying to leave he was confronted by someone trying to ask him for his name, to which he replied to most dad joke possible “my name is Hugh Mungus.” He was accused of sexual this and sexual that and it was thankfully all captured on camera.
This guy got shit he didn’t deserve from someone that decided to take a shot at a guy who was defending the men that saved his daughter from heroin addiction.
Hugh Mungus was a victim of ignorance, not a victim of being a “straight white male.”
For every single Hugh Mungus story, there are so many more stories about straight white men taking advantage and using their status to get themselves out of trouble or into power. Sometimes straight white males use their status to get themselves out of trouble and into power at the same time.
You see, straight white male isn’t a term used to describe every single white male as being the bad guys. It is there to describe a mentality and power structure that is brought out from belonging to a straight white male mindset. Sure, there could be a better way of putting it, but then you’re dancing around semantics and not dealing with the problem.
To me, arguing about “well, not all white people are privileged” or “well, not all men are like that” is stupid. Yes, of course, are you stupid? Everyone knows this! Straight white male isn’t a term to describe everyone, it’s there to describe dickheads with the mentality that they are doing the white man’s burden in the 21st century.
The mindset I’ve been discussing does exist throughout Asia with expats coming from a variety of partisan leanings from all over the world. I’ve met Brexiters, Trump Fans, and Nazi sympathizers. All of whom are straight white males. I think the only person that gets out of that stereotype is Milo Yiannopoulos, but then again, look how much his supporters took care of him after he was left by the curb.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on what a straight white male is. You can disagree with me, agree with me, but do please join in on the discussion.
I also realize the irony of writing a lot about myself when I’m saying it’s not about you.